Churches and sanctuaries
Roadside shrines, engravings, chapels and sanctuaries witness the valley inhabitants’ widespread will to mark their territory by long-lasting artifacts conveying their bond with the afterlife and the unknown.
Along the times, the simplest and most common testimonials have been votive shrines, raised at a road crossing, and ex-voto chapels, offerings for God’s received grace. It will be easy to find these shrines of faith along trails and on roadsides, while the more you will climb the mountains the more you will have a chance to find chapels and rock engravings, not only religious ones, as those present on Torrioni del Ru at Balme.
Many bell-towers, nowadays still standing, were built around the years 1000, during the Romanesque age: St. Marcellina’s steeple in Ceres, St. Martino’s Church bell-tower in Mezzenile and the one in Monastero di Lanzo.
Nevertheless, the many sanctuaries, located in the most picturesque sites, are the real characteristic of the faith experienced in the Lanzo Valleys territory.
The tourist who, overtaking Germagnano, ventures in the valleys will be stricken by Sant’Ignazio Sanctuary dominating the country road. Its characteristic is the boulder behind the altar representing the summit of Monte Bastia on which it stands.
Two sanctuaries stand in Val Grande. The highest up of all the valleys is the Madonna del Ciavanis Sanctuary; it stands in a grassy hollow among pastures and mountain shelters still in use during the summer. The Nostra Signora di Loreto Sanctuary at Forno Alpi Graie is characterized by Our Lady’s ebony statue that, due to the color, is also called the “Black Virgin”. It is located at the base of ramparts and surrounded by centuries old trees and it may be reached by climbing 443 steps. The Sanctuary is nowadays a museum of Lanzo Valleys religious evidences.
The Santa Cristina Sanctuary is clinging to a vertical rock that divides Val Grande from Val d’Ala and offers a breathtaking panorama.
The last Sanctuary is the Madonna degli Olmetti at Lemie. It stands at the end of a beautiful shadowy valley, not very far from the Stura River. Arcades surround three sides and it seems a fisherman ex-voto stands at the origin of the church: inside there is an old shrine built as first place of worship.
This is just a part of our religious heritage…