Sacred mount Madonna del Sasso

Locarno

The sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina above Locarno is the most famous place of pilgrimage in the Italian part of Switzerland. It is rooted in the ancient tradition of votive gifts.

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Most striking of all Locarno's sights is the Franciscan Santuario della Madonna del Sasso church, an impressive ochre vision floating above the town on a wooded crag (sasso means rock) and consecrated in 1487 on the spot where, seven years earlier, the Virgin had appeared to Brother Bartholomeo da Ivrea from the San Francesco monastery in the town.

The twenty-minute walk up through the lush ravine of the Torrente Ramogno and past a handful of decaying shrines, is atmospheric enough in itself; or you could take the half-hourly funicular from just west of the station to Ticino's greatest photo-op, looking down through the palms to the sunlit arcaded main front of the church and glittering blue lake behind.

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