Mariano di Montenero Monastery

Deeply rooted in Livorno’s traditions, is their dedication to the Virgin Mary or la Madonna. For example, after they were married, Livornese brides would offer their flowers to a shrine dedicated to Madonna, in the hope she would protect them from the European plague. Her love to the city was proved when in 1742, a tidal wave hit the city, but left it without any damage, and from then on, Livorno has celebrated its carnival on the 27th January, and the symbol of their affection towards la Madonna became the Mariano di Montenero monastery.

The story of the monastery starts though, 400 years previous to the tidal wave, in 1345, when according to tradition, a shepherd was injured on the banks of the River Ardenza, saw an image of the Virgin Mary, and was miraculously cured. The image was then displayed in one of the city’s chapels. The chapel we’re talking about is called the Chiesa dell’Apparizione, which was destroyed during the World War II, and re-built in the 1950s, and today is sunk in the middle of the motorway, and so the decision was made to move the monastery to the hills of Montenero.

Montenero is south of the province of Livorno, has woodlands and villas, and was once a famous holiday destination in previous centuries. The road leading to the seafront, is called the Panoramica, because of the gorgeous views and scenery. Once you arrive in Piazza delle Carrozze, which is the centre of Montenero, you’ve found the best place to reach the monastery, by taking the tramway.

The view from the monastery is truly awesome, and ranges from the fiery reds of the Tuscan rooftops, to the luscious greens of the local forestry, combine that with idyllic sea views where you can see many islands offshore, and it surely is a beautiful sight.

The monastery features a lot of marble, and you can see a lot of gifts that have been donated over the years (many from international locations), in fact, there are many rooms full of things that have been sent with thanks to Madonna, and for the ways she has blessed them.

There are also quite highly valued works of art here, for example, paintings by Fattori, and Natali, you can see these works of art about the amazing miracles the Madonna can perform, for example an injured soldier from 1935 holding his heart but still living. There are also more modern examples, like photographs of babies, of which, doctors said they would never be born, let alone, be perfectly healthy.

In the surrounding corridors, there are many coats of arms, donated by local Tuscan authorities, which perhaps, unofficially declares la Madonna, as the saint of Tuscany.

Another fact about the monastery is that it has a sort of mini-cave, which has been used as an air-raid shelter in times of war, and houses a water soure, rich in natural vitamins and minerals.


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