Friday, November 23, 2012


Eve and the Snake
A beautiful foto of street art in Naples by Rebecca Price Butler on her Tumbler blog

Everyday Miracles

The first time I heard of the Sanctuary on Montenero  was from Signor Solari, my then piano teacher, who took mum and me on an afternoon trip there many years ago. He was so proud to show off his little secret, a small jewel overlooking the port of Livorno  that houses a literal treasure trove of documented 'Miracles' that people have received after praying to a Saint or Divinity in a time of need.

While we were in Tuscany this summer I revisited Livorno and my good friends Soraya and Alberto  took us to dinner at their special place in the minuscule village of Montenero. During dinner I remembered what an impression the Sanctuary a little further up the mountain made on me so many years before.

                            The Funiculare to the Sanctuary begins & ends.

The next day Ani and I went to the beach in Castiglioncello and on the way back to Soraya's city house we turned off the Aurelia and headed up towards Montenero so I could in my turn share this special and strange place with my daughter. It has remained of my favorite places dedicated to the Patron Saint of Tuscany the Divine Mary

Our drive up was not nearly as harrowing as when Solari was manning the curves at 60 mph  - smoking his Gauloise, gesticulating the way Italians do when they are reminiscing or talking about beautiful women (which often happens at the same time).  We stopped to take in the view of the bay

The View from Montenero
As noted in tour guides, Montenero was also a big holiday destination for artistic types like Byron and Shelley and even Longfellow in the 19th century and it is no surprise when you look out from the promenade to the bay what attracted them.

As we arrived in the main piazza at the top of the mountain we parked and then walked along the edge of the tidily decaying promenade to the Church. Ani was ogling the silly trinkets at the kiosks the euros burning in her pockets.

No, no, no I say I want to show you these amazing pictures on the walls. We treated ourselves to a bite to eat and a juice at one of the bar/restaurants in the grand piazza watched over by this unusual painting before we headed in.

 A Grazie Ricevuta or an ex-voto is a votive offering (a painting or a plaque) to a saint or a divine being as showing thanks for a prayer asking for an intervention or help in time of need. Many churches in Italy have special rooms where they are displayed on the wall like this...

This is one of the beautiful paintings of the Divine Mary.."The first chapel was built to commemorate a miraculous event that happened in 1345. A shepherd found an image of Our Lady at the foot of a hill. He had a vision in which he was told to carry the image on top of the hill. When he arrived to his destination, the man was cured of a grave infirmity".

One of the many scenes on the walls..

This collection is truly fascinating on so many levels! Historically, decoratively and culturally the thousands of items are interesting and charming and speak volumes. Sometimes they are intricate but often drawn in a naif style, the common man describing the miraculous.

Here are other paintings, drawings of daily life tragedies overcome - very touching to see...

Saved from disaster

Saved from Drowning

Runaway Horse accident

Praying to the Mother

Prayer for a sick daughter

The Grazie Ricevute with Names & Messages