Sunday, November 14, 2010

La Madonna di San Luca

The Madonna di San Luca sits outside the city of Bologna on Monte della Guardia. The church houses an image of the Madonna and Child attributed to St. Luke with miraculous powers which have made it a significant pilgrimage site. The church is joined to the city by an arcade composed of 666 arches stretching from the city gate out of the city, over the road and up the mountain. The arcade provides shelter for pilgrims and protection for the relic on its annual procession down into Bologna. The reasoning behind the peculiar number of arches is said to be an attempt protect the relic on its journey by beating the Devil at his own game. The arcade, gate and church were all designed by Carlo Francesco Dotti and built between 1674 and 1793. Sections of the arcade between the city gate and the pilgrim bridge now support five story buildings along what one hundred years ago would have been farmland, and since the builders seemed to have been more concerned with quantity than quality some of the arches list at disturbing angles. The walk to the top is quite a hike especially since each arch is numbered, reminding you how few arches you have passed.
 The beginning of the Portico di San Luca leading out of the city
The gate of the city facing the arcade

 The arcade stretching out to the fantastic gate and bridge over the road
 The gate from the inside
 View of the gate from the countryside. The pilgrim route climbs up a set of stairs, over the road and around the curve of the left wing of the gate and then up the mountain
The arcade stretching up the steep mountain
 Looking back down the arcade
The central portico of the church
The altar
The Madonna of St. Luke
An aerial view of the church and arcade
A great gypsy manouche band (Tolga During) performing  in Piazza Maggiore in front of the cathedral