A spectacular sanctuary on Monte Baldo
Madonna della Corona is a salmon-coloured church dedicated to the ‘Madonna of the Crown’, in Spiazzi di Caprino in Northern Italy. The sanctuary is located 774 meters above sea level, overlooking the valley of the river Adige. The church stands on Mount Baldo or rather hangs against a rock face, between heaven and earth, a stone’s throw from Lake Garda.
It is not necessary to be religious to enjoy a visit to the church. You will, for sure, love the view over the valley whilst the nuns sing otherworldly, and chimes echo over the mountains.
Furthermore, the church allows anybody to light a candle; this will help you clean your karma. The money spent on the candle will go towards the maintenance of the church. Alternatively, have a drink and a bite in the cafeteria or stay at the pilgrim’s house connected to the sanctuary.
There are several ways to get to church. The easy one is to drive to Spiazzi by car and then descend. The more challenging approach is to walk the pilgrim path from the village of Brentino.
The pilgrim path to the Madonna della Corona
However, to hike the pilgrim path, it is helpful to be a believer. In this case, that means the belief in your ability. Clambering the 1540 steps can feel a bit like a penance, especially when the temperatures approach 30 °C, which is common in the Italian summer.
According to the church website, the walk takes about an hour and a half to the top. It should take an hour down to go down. Blissfully unaware of this, we had parked our car at Spiazzi and then thought it was a good idea to walk down.
Contrary to the optimistic estimate of the church, it took us two hours to descend the 600 meters. But of course, as hardcore atheists, we didn’t have divine support. Besides, we had to sit on a bench to communicate with a colourful butterfly.
Though quite a strenuous hike, there is still ample opportunity to enjoy sweeping views over the valley and to marvel at the church that appears to be glued to the rock wall.
At the end of the descent, you will arrive in the village of Brentino. A small, albeit pretty village, devoid of restaurants, shops and public transport. Consequently, there is no other option than to walk up the same stairs again to get back to your starting point. Unless you have a partner who says: ‘no problem honey, I will get the car.’
Lunch in the Adige Valley
While your travel companion walks back, stomachs need to be filled, and thirst quenched. A further three kilometres down the road, you will find Hotel-Restaurant/Pizzeria Belvedere.
This restaurant on the Don Cesare Scala, 31, in Rivalta is ideal for lunch. The Belvedere (beautiful view) – with the misleading word Pizzeria in its name – has a gorgeous view, at least for those that revel in heavy freight traffic on a provincial road.
It is possible to choose anything from the menu, as long as it is ‘Pasta alla Amatriciana‘. The sauce is made from pork cheeks, tomato, Pecorino cheese and onion and, as expected in this environment, tastes heavenly. For dessert, one naturally wants tiramisu.
Add a glass of wine and two litres of water. Finally, if there is no Italian family around, a cappuccino to round it all off. Yes, drinking cappuccino is punishable by death after 11 a.m. in Italy. And no, I don’t understand that either.
By the time your partner finally arrives with the car (‘Hi honey, what took you so long?’), you’ll probably have recovered from the effort.
There is, of course, severe muscle pain the next day, but that is to be expected.
Madonna della Corona near the town of Spiazzi
The more comfortable option is to drive to Spiazzi di Caprino, park in the village and then descend on foot to the church, which will take approximately 15 minutes. After that, you will have to go back up. Alternatively, take the bus that runs regularly up and down between the church and Spiazzi.
If you have difficulty walking or would rather be lazy than tired, take the same bus down from Spiazzi to the church. But then you miss the Way of the Cross.
If you walk down from Spiazzi, you will pass the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross. The life-size statues recreate Jesus’ suffering from the palace of Pontius Pilate to his burial.
- If you want to take the Pilgrim’s Path, make sure you carry plenty of water.
- The sun tends to shine, so make sure to bring sunscreen and a cap or hat.
- Do not try to descend the path on flip-flops. The chance that you will slip is relatively high.
- If you want to stay in the mountains for a few days, Spiazzi di Caprino is a nice place and has several hotels.
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