Sanctuary of Montenero (Santuario di Montenero)
In 1345, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a local shepherd, who immediately led her to this spot on Montenero that was a notorious lair for thieves. According to legend, the outlaws renounced their lives of crime and built a chapel on the spot, which soon began to attract pilgrims. The original church was extended and the present sanctuary dates from the late 18th century.
Things to know before you go
- The sanctuary is a popular pilgrimage destination, and respectful decorum and modest dress are required to enter.
- The hillside location offers beautiful views over the surrounding countryside, so be sure to bring your camera.
- The sanctuary is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to get there
By public transport, take the LAM Rosso bus to Montenero and get off at Piazza delle Carrozze in Montenero Basso, the final stop. From there, take the scenic funicular up to the sanctuary.
When to get there
The best time to visit is the 8th of September for the Festa della Madonna, honoring Our Lady of Grace of Montenero, patron of Tuscany. Special Masses and other religious celebrations are held, and the sanctuary is lively with pilgrims and visitors.
Ex-Votos at the Sanctuary of Montenero
One of the most striking elements of the sanctuary is its massive collection of hundreds of ex-votos, or votive offerings to Our Lady of Grace of Montenero in gratitude or devotion for purported miracles. The collection began in the early 1800s, and includes simple folk-art images of fishermen, soldiers, children, and women; photos, letters, and personal objects; and traditional silver anatomical symbols.