Portico di San Luca: Photo credit: Stefano Carnevali/Shutterstock.com
Atop a forested hill, some 300 meters above the city of Bologna, stands the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca, a 12th century Roman Catholic church. You can drive all the way up to the hill, but you can also walk through a specially constructed corridor. This covered monumental roofed arcade consists of 666 arches and stretches for 3.8 km making it the longest portico in the world.
The Portico di San Luca was built between the 17th and 18th centuries so that the sanctuary’s icon could be carried up the hill during an annual procession without it getting wet in the rain. Legend has it that around the 15th century there was an extended period of wet season that was ruining crops. When the icon from San Luca was brought down from the hill to the city, the rain stopped miraculously. Since then, every year on the occasion of the Feast of the Ascension, a procession has been taking place carrying the treasured Byzantine icon of the Madonna from the Basilica to Bologna’s Cathedral of San Pietro. With time, the path from the sanctuary to the city center was paved, and then covered with a portico to protect the procession and the icon from the rain that often accompanied the procession.
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. Photo credit: Superb Stock Images/Shutterstock.com
Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. Photo credit: Kartlyn/Flickr