One of the benefits of undergoing therapy at a spa-wellness center in the Giudicarie area of the Trentino is the free time I had in between therapeutic baths to explore a host of nearby villages and hamlets just waiting to be framed by my lenses.
One such locale is Deggia, a minuscule dot on the map that’s home to only three families, a llama ranch, an organic nursery and the reason for my visit: Il Santuario della Madonna di Caravaggio (The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Caravaggio).
According to Roman Catholic tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the countryside around the village of Caravaggio in the Lombardy region back on May 26, 1432. Since that time, there have been other Marian apparitions attributed to Our Lady of Caravaggio, and votive churches built by humble communities who prayed to Her for divine intervention in times of great peril — like my photo-shoot destination of Deggia, just beyond the reach of San Lorenzo in Banale.
The sanctuary was built shortly after Deggia and other nearby hamlets and villages were spared sure death, due to their prayers to Our Lady of Caravaggio, from a cholera epidemic that ravaged the rest of the Trentino back in 1858. Consecrated in 1862, the Santuario della Madonna di Caravaggio votive church was enlarged in 1894 and again in 1898.
With several cameras draped around my neck, I set off down a roughly paved road to visit the Sanctuary, take in the pastoral scenery and soak up the peace and quiet along the way.
I was pretty much on my own throughout the three-hour photo shoot, stopping often enough to snap away and even chatting it up with the only breathing creature I came in direct contact with: an animated llama who stood out from the rest of the herd grazing freely around the hamlet wherever it was green.
Three-hundred-plus shots later, I waived goodbye to the tiny hamlet of Deggia and the photogenic llama [Fernando] and headed back to the spa-wellness center for for my nightly soak in the therapeutic waters.