« I can see why everyone raves about Ravenna | Main | Dazed and Dazzled..... »

Did I ever need sanctuary, and a miracle.......


....to climb the 4 kilometres up, up, up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca! This was one tough climb up the Colle, or Monte dell Guardia, even though I was shaded from the sizzling sun by the 666 porticos covering the steps up!

For centuries, pilgrims have made the journey, seeking a miracle from the venerated Black Madonna -- an icon attributed to St. Luke, according to one legend -- which is housed in the beautiful and peaceful Sanctuary church.

Apparently, a church or chapel of some kind existed atop the hill for about a thousand years (which is roughly how long it took me to reach the top!) Okay, it wasn't that bad. But I started out cranky, as it took almost an hour to walk from my hotel to the foot of the hill and the beginnings of the porticos.

Then, the walk turned out to be really steep -- I knew it would be a bit of a grunt, but Oh My God. This was steep. Worse, an elderly man was gaining on me the entire way up and, being obsessively competitive, I couldn't allow him to pass me.

I prayed every step of the way for the strength to not try and trip him, or strangle the two young women who dared to eventually pass me near the top. I caught up with them inside the church, constructed in 1723, and glared at them until they left. Then, I could enjoy the miraculous Black Madonna and art works including paintings by Guido Reni (a local boy who has an entire room devoted to him in Bologna's very good Pinacoteca Nazionale, which I visited Sunday.)

In reality (a site I don't enjoy), the walk up only took about an hour -- and several gallons of sweat. And the views were gorgeous. And I didn't hurt anyone, so all in all, it was an excellent morning.

I rewarded myself with a great lunch back at the bottom, at Trattoria Meloncello where I had two glasses of wine (after all, I WAS dehydrated) a fantastic plate of homemade tortelloni with a ragu sauce, a nice serving of grilled vegetables and because I was drunk by this point, homemade semifreddo.

Comments (12)


I am just now catching up with your great blog of your travels to date. I am still laughing at the spanx bra (I have one too though am not as happy with it as you seem to be)and the skirts in Palma.

I too understand your feelngs of a bit of a let down in Bologna after the lovely Parma. But a tour really does put in in a different light and aren't the people so nice?

Ravena is all it's hyped up to be isn't it? I had goosebumps the entire time I was viewing those mosaics.

You are a better woman than me and Mindy-good for you climbing those porticos after walking a mile to get there! Especially in that heat and humidity. I'm sure you felt better about eating a lovely lunch afterwards though.

Enjoy Ferrara, I'm sure you will and thanks for taking us on your journey!

Barb Cabot:

I'm following you step by step. It all sounds so wonderful. I wish I was there or following in your footsteps. Thanks for blogging...so great to read about your adventures.

Wow! Sounds awesome-the lunch with wine and the climb. I bet the views and art works were way worth it.
LOL about the people you did not hurt!


Sandra, you are just too funny!

I was sweating right along with you as I read your post - I am not sure I would have attempted the walk in that heat. But, good for you!


Thanks, Colleen -- you and Mindy have given me some great ideas for this trip.Sorry to hear the Spanx bra isn't working out so well for you....it has some serious drawbacks (it really is straight out of a gulag, an anti-Victoria's Secret kind of affair. Maybe there's a SlowTrav thread in all of this.....)

Thanks for your comments, Barb and Nancy! And Candi, San Luca really was quite beautiful and well worth the effort.

Thanks for the morning laugh! I know just what you mean. I think that same older man passed me on the way up last year! It does sort of feel like 1000 years to get there! I ended up also walking almost an hour just to get to the start (bus strike that day). So glad you were able to eat at Trattoria Meloncello. Sounds like you had a wonderful lunch. Enjoy Ferrara!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, kudos for climbing what sounds like quite a hike up to the Sanctuary. Very funny about being competitive. :)

I'm sure it was well worth all the sweat to reach the top and see such a beautiful church. Glad to hear that you rewarded yourself with a delicious meal and also hydrated yourself. :)

Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us. Keep on having fun!

Oh, I am just about licking the screen and massaging my cramping thighs as I read this - love your style and thanks for the entry. andiamo, menehune

Haha, you are hilarious as always! I am sure you breezed up those steps like a gazelle. (I know you work out every day!!)

The lunch sounds awesome. One of the things I miss the most from my vacation is a delicious lunch of pasta (tagliatelle al ragu would be awesome right now, or tortelli di zucca) with a little glass of wine. Ah!

That lunch sounds like the perfect reward for that arduous climb.

I was thinking about you on Saturday, hoping that Venice wasn't too hot and crowded.


You're cracking me up! You should have tripped them! :D


Oh Sandra, the image of you glaring down the young women cracks me up! If I ever (I should say WHEN) I get to Bologna and make this climb myself, I'm sure I will be thinking of you!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)