During your holidays on the Tuscan coast, would you like to have a different setting for some of your photographs? Perhaps you’d like to know more about the history, culture and traditions of the area you’re visiting? Or maybe you just fancy a different point of view….
If you want to take a break from the beach for a few hours, but you don’t want to be too far away from the sand, here are six churches you should visit.
1. The Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero
Near Livorno, in the hills, there is the famous and important Sanctuary of the Madonna di Montenero. Its foundation is said to be linked to the discovery of an image of the Virgin Mary in 1345 by a poor and crippled shepherd; he decided to bring the painting to the “black mountain” (Montenero), also known as the “devil’s mountain” that was a secret hide out for bandits. The monks then decided to build a small church in honor of this image, which was considered miraculous. Due to the increasing popularity of the icon a larger church soon replaced the original, and the building was further expanded in 1575, and again in 1720. This is also the best place to learn about the ex-votive tradition in Tuscany. In the Gallery of ex-votives there is in fact one of the largest collections of votive offerings in Italy: about 600 pieces, collected since the early 1800s. This is not only a testimony of faith, but also a mirror of everyday life during the different periods, from customs, transportation, jobs, activities and points of view.
2. The Convent of the Padri Passionisti
A white building located in the hills of Monte Argentario, between Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano. From up there, you can view the charm and suggestion of the Orbetello Lagoon. Surrounded by woods, the Convento of the Padri Passionisti is also a quiet and shady place… in case you are looking for some “sunscreen”! To reach the convent take the road between Porto Santo Stefano and Orbetello.
3. The San Pietro Apostolo Church
When visiting the San Pietro Apostolo Church you will enjoy an amazing view overlooking Giglio Island. The church is at the center of the fortified village of Giglio Castello; it hosts a 16th-century ivory crucifix by Giambologna and a considerable amount of religious relics. The most venerated of the relics is the Arm of San Mamiliano: the story goes that the inhabitants of Giglio Castello used to show the arm from the top of the city walls to scare away pirates!
4. The Church and Convent of St. Antonio
Overlooking the crystal sea waters of Capraia Island is the Church and Convent of Saint Antonio, which was built by a Franciscan monk in the second half of the 17th century. When the island was turned into a penal colony, the Convent became its administrative centre (1873-1986).
5. The Madonna della Neve Sanctuary
One of the many sanctuaries and churches to be found on the Island of Elba. This little sanctuary near Capoliveri offers a beautiful view of the Gulf of Lacona. Built in the 16th century on top of a previous Romanesque structure, it was altered several times between the 17th and 20th centuries.
6. The Santo Stefano a Magazzini Church
Another “church with a view” on Elba Island. It overlooks the entire Portoferraio bay and is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The little church of Santo Stefano a Magazzini, once called “alle Trane”, is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture.
Fancy a different view? Here are the top 5 churches with a (mountain) view!