Rapallo Tourism » What to see » The Sanctuary of Montallegro
The Sanctuary of Montallegro

La facciata del Santuario di montallegro

The Sanctuary of Montallegro is the Sanctuary of Rapallo inhabitants and one of the most important Marian shrines of Liguria. It was built to celebrate the apparition of the Virgin Mary at the farmer Giovanni Chichizola on 2nd July 1557 on the crest of what until then had been called Montis Laeti, the Mountain of Death and whose name has been changed in Montallegro (Mountain of Gaiety) as a result of that event. Built in 1559 by the express will of the Virgin, which, according to tradition, told to Chichizola "Go and say to Rapallo inhabitants I want to be honored here," has since become a reference point for the whole community of Rapallo. Every year, the anniversary of the apparition is celebrated with the famous festivities that take place for three days, 1, 2 and 3 July, with religious celebrations in the Basilica and Sanctuary and the awesome day and night fireworks on the sea.
The beautiful marble facade of the church was designed by the architect Revelli, in the late nineteenth century. Inside, the vaults are frescoes by the great Genoese painter Nicolò Barabino and altars are a real blast of decoration and polychrome marbles. On the walls, hundreds of votive offerings, mostly painted, embroidery and carvings in precious metals, bear witness to the devotion of the faithful towards the Madonna of Montallegro and the many graces received by those who have turned to Her in times of need.
On the high altar is guarded the miraculous image left by Madonna on the site of the apparition as a token of love to the community of Rapallo, along with the gush of a prodigious source, whose waters have been channeled into a drinking fountain that is still in the side chapel of the Shrine.
The picture, a Byzantine icon of rare workmanship, is the protagonist of another miraculous story: after being placed in the sanctuary, it was noticed by some people of Dalmatian coast that had gone to visit the Sanctuary and was claimed by them, asserting that it came from the city of Dubrovnic, Dalmatia. It was decided to send the icon to what it seemed to be his place of origin, but during the voyage to Dalmatia, the icon mysteriously disappeared and was found in the Sanctuary. The Dalmatian understood the divine sign and left the miraculous picture in Rapallo.
Panorama da Montallegro
The Sanctuary is situated in a splendid panoramic position, about 600 meters above sea level, on the crest of the mountain at the center of a dense holm oak. From the square in front you enjoy an extraordinary view of the west coast of the Gulf of Tigullio, with the towns of Rapallo and Santa Margherita interspersed with coves of San Michele and Paraggi, until the unmistakable shape of the promontory of Portofino.

Connected to the center of Rapallo by a road and a public transport bus service, the Sanctuary can also be reached by cable car that starts from the center of Rapallo and reaches Montallegro in just six and a half minutes, while offering a spectacular view the entire gulf from a privileged position.
Veduta aerea del Santuario di Montallegro
The white facade of the church is preceded by a pedestrian walkway and a high staircase that increase the sense of peace, but that made it difficult to access for the disabled. Since 2010 it is working an elevator for those who have difficulty walking, which leads directly onto the square in front of the Sanctuary.

Once you reach the Sanctuary there start streets lined with ancient mule tracks that connect the sanctuary with the villages of Uscio, Cicagna, Chiavari, with the hinterland, and even roads for trekking and mountain biking. For those traveling by train, just get off at Rapallo, and just behind the same station, is the cable car to reach the Sanctuary. For those traveling by car or bus on the A12 motorway, the exit is Rapallo.
 

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