Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso

Lake Como West Bank

On the heights above Ossuccio, this lavish sanctuary is the destination for devoted pilgrims who make the steep 30-minute climb, passing a series of chapels (built from 1635 to 1714) along the way. The climb up the so-called Sacro Monte di Ossuccio affords matchless views over olive groves, the Isola Comacina and the lake beyond. At the top, you reach the Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso, which houses a 14th-century marble sculpture of Our Lady to which miraculous powers were long attributed.

It sits in a side chapel, just to the left of the altar.

The church was built over various periods from 1537 until 1719, and its ceiling is swirling with richly hued frescoes depicting the coronation of the Virgin Mary and her assumption into heaven.

From Ossuccio, head up toward Piazza Papa Giovanni XXIII, where the pilgrim path begins (there's a parking area on the way just off Via Giovanni Castelli, if you're driving). You'll find the Trattoria del Santuario at the top.

Keen walkers could proceed uphill (about two hours for the moderately fit) to reach the splendid Romanesque Chiesa di San Benedetto, at the heart of a picture-postcard setting.

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