I've been going through some of my photos from my June trip to Italy, which included a week in Bologna, and a sweaty day walking under the 666 porticos that form the Portico di San Luca, which leads from the city's centre up, up, up to the very beautiful Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca (Santuario della Beata Vergine di San Luca.)
The 4-kilometre climb up the Colle, or Monte dell Guardia, was pretty grueling as the humidity level in the Emilia-Romagna region is extremely high, even when one is shaded from the sizzling sun by the porticos.
But I had read Girasoli's description of the climb and the sanctuary, and was anxious to see it for myself. (I urge you to check out the link to her blog, Girasoli's photos are always fantastic!)
Along the way, I found some interesting art, icons, and tiny chapels tucked into a few of the arches on the route up.
And at the top, the views were fantastic.
For centuries, pilgrims have made this 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. The church also boasts some wonderful art, including paintings by Guido Reni (a local boy who has an entire room devoted to his work, in Bologna's Pinacoteca Nazionale.)
According to Wikipedia (the source for the top photo) the monumental roofed arcade was built between 1674 and1793, and was meant to protect the icon as it was paraded up the hill. A yearly procession proceeded from the church of San Pietro in the center of Bologna up to the Sanctuary along this path.
Apparently, a church or chapel of some kind has existed atop the hill for about a thousand years.