Most of you probably know by now that I like to walk. A lot. When I’m traveling, any mention of a hiking trail or pilgrimage gets me all excited and I’m virtually *compelled* to try it out. And so this past December when I was in Bologna, the arcade up to il Santuario di San Luca was calling my name and I had to answer.
The Sanctuary of Saint Luke is a church on top of Colle della Guardia (Hill of the Guardwatch) that was built to its current state to house the Madonna of St. Luke, one of the only two icons left believed to be created by the evangelist (taken from Constantinople in 1150, supposedly by direction of the icon itself). The arcade, a 3.5 km walk of 666 arches, was built to protect the icon when the town carries it in a procession on the 2nd Sunday of May each year, commemorating the “Miracle of the Rain” in 1433 when the icon of St. Luke’s Madonna is credited with stopping the torrential downpour that threatened to ruin Bologna’s crops.
A friend I made in Bologna suggested we drive up for a mass on Saturday afternoon and, when I told her I was planning on walking up the next day, she thought I was crazy. But when I got to the Saragozza Gate, the official starting point of the arcade, I saw people much older than me JOGGING along the path, so figure I’d be ok. At least, I hoped.
As a bit of an experiment I strapped my GoPro to me on the way up, pausing now and then to look out through the arches (otherwise the video would’ve been totally boring), going back once to pick up my dropped scarf and admiring the 15 small chapels that line the corridor, originally dedicated to the church’s patron families. I sped up the video – a lot! – so it’s fairly short, just the length of one of my favorite songs, which just happened to fit perfectly with my stops and starts and views of the valley below.
Side note: wondering why there are 666 arches? Seems a little, oh, I don’t know… demonic? That’s because it is. Supposedly the architect wanted to allude to the divine (the church) crushing the devil (the long serpent of 666 arches).
What do you think? Are you adding the “Portico di San Luca” to your “to-do” list the next time you’re in Bologna?