An Archway to the Madonna

June 11, 2013 / Places
Vicenza, Veneto

I’ve got the perfect destination for this latest edition of Vicenza Walks.  If you’ll simply put one foot in front of the other, join me as I lead the way up Monte Berico. Feel free to point-and-shoot along the way.

Portion of the covered archway along Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images | ©Tom Palladio Images

Monte Berico, a small hill that overlooks and dominates Vicenza, is part of the undulating and vast Colli Berici (Berici Hills) that spread out south of the city.

Located just a short distance from the Centro Storico (Old Town), religious pilgrims, tourists and local residents alike take the steep hike up this hill to visit il Santuario della Madonna di Monte Berico, the city’s patron saint.

This is a jewel of a walk, with architectural and religious significance. Those up for the climb to the summit arrive on foot via an impressive 700-meter-long, two-sectioned archway.

Constructed to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, the archway was designed by architect Francesco Muttoni and unveiled in 1746.

The procession-like design, consisting of 150 portici (arches) in groups of 10, symbolizes the 15 Mysteries and 150 Hail Mary’s of the Rosary which are recited during the Stations of the Cross and other religious traditions observed by Roman Catholics.

P1000336Fronting the Santuario is the Piazzale della Vittoria, with a national monument dedicated in 1924 to honor Italy’s fallen heroes from numerous battles fought against Austria during World War I.

From the large oval balcony at Piazzale della Vittoria on a clear day you can see just about forever: the panorama of Vicenza down below, the pre-Alps in the background to the north, and the Venetian Lagoon to the east.

I live here and never tire of the trek up to Monte Berico under the shade of the beautifully crafted covered archway. It’s a “must see” stop for anyone visiting Vicenza.

Covered archway up Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

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Underneath the covered archway - Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
Memorial honoring Italy's World War I fallen heroes - Piazzale della Vittoria, Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
Clock tower and basilica seen through the archway - Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
Center section of the archway up to Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images
Santuario della Madonna di Monte Berico - Vicenza, Italy | ©Tom Palladio Images

Panoramic view of Vicenza from Monte Berico overlook | ©Tom Palladio Images

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian Traveler.com, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based TravelingBoy.com, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

24 Responses to “An Archway to the Madonna”

  1. Thank you Tom… I’m always amazed by how much I don’t know about Italy, and I think I’ve seen or know just about everything about the country… There’s so much to absorb that it can’t possibly be taken in during one lifetime.

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  2. John – Thanks for your comments. I hear you. We both need to be “born again” so that we can continue to nibble away at all the great finds around the Bel Paese.

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  3. Rita Mantone

    Wonderful, thanks for sharing Tom. I don’t think a person can take in all the beauty and wonder of Italia in a life time, but let’s have fun trying!

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    • Thanks, Rita. I’ll do my best to chronicle as much of the Bel Paese as I can from my neck of her woods.

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  4. Mike Marshall

    I was in the US Army, stationed in Berlin in 1963. I drove down to visit a school friend, also in the Army, stationed in Vicenza in July, fifty years ago this summer. I drove around Vicenza one afternoon and took a slide of this church with my first camera which I bought especially for the trip, my first to Italy. I still have the slide, but I never knew anything about the subject of it until now. I married an Italian lady I met in Berlin and we return to her home in Brunico, Bolzano every summer. I’d like to get back to Vicenza and walk though this place I only have a picture of. Maybe next month.

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    • Mike — I get nearby to Brunico once a year for a ski week over in the Val Pusteria. I just love the Dolomites. Next time you come to Brunico make it a point to take the train or the 4-hour drive by car to the City of Palladio. You owe it to yourself to add to that single slide you took back in ’63. One more thing, have a Hugo/Ugo aperitivo when you get to Brunico.

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  5. Anna Mangus

    My favorite way to experience a place is through walks like this. It has everything that my senses require to awaken and appreciate where I am; lots of nature, architecture, and history. Thank you for bringing this beautiful walk to our attention!

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  6. Anna – You’re quite welcome. Vicenza is one of those places where you can lose the car and just go on foot.

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  7. Allan Mahnke

    Many thanks. We missed this on our visit to Vicenza, so we have another reason to return.

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  8. Jill Brax

    It seems the weather is always perfect in Vicenza. Beautiful picture, Tom.

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    • Jill, we have our good days and our bad ones, weather wise. It always looks nice because I try and shoot outdoors following rain storms when the clouds appear to give the sky that perfect look and the light is just right. Thanks for viewing.

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  9. Antoinette Shapiama

    Tom — My cousin and his family live nearby in Sandrigo. I forwarded to him one of your blogs about Vicenza and he commented that he never really appreciated the city until he saw it through the eyes of a “foresto”. Looking forward to more about the Veneto area since that is where my parents came from. I’ve been there several times, but of course but not enough to see it all!

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  10. Salve Antoinette — My wife’s family comes from Piovene Rocchette, Santorso’s next-door neighbor. Glad he liked the piece, but let him know next time you exchange info that this “forestiero” lived six years in his neck of the woods and am always roaming around up there with relatives.

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    • Thanks, Pete. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Maybe I’ll see you under the portici on the walk up.

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  11. Tom, thanks for the story and great photos. I’m more familiar with the Portico di San Luca in Bologna. It was built to protect the miraculous icon painting of Madonna and Child during the yearly procession taking it from the hilltop church to the cathedral in central Bologna during Ascension week. Do you know whether the porticoed walkway in Vicenza serves a similar purpose? (My take on San Luca is at http://fishandpeaches.blogspot.com/2011/07/san-luca.html)

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    • Salve Roberto,

      Bologna, now there’s a city that knows its portici. It’s filled with them. Here in the Vicenza, the portici up to the Santuario are used for the stations of the cross on Good Friday. There may be other occasions where they’re used for religious events, but on that I am not sure. I’ll have to investigate further as I’m working on a piece about the Basilica della Madonna di Monte Berico. Thanks again for commenting. Ciao for now. Tom

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  12. Anne Robichaud

    Ah, Italy, “land of the endless wonders”….thanks for reminding me, Tom, that time to get back to Vicenza…and re-visit old favorites, find news ones..

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  13. Massimo Russo

    Very nice pictures! Thanks for this article showing local beauty. My cousin living in CA sent the link to me (I live in Vicenza…). Let me add some additional info, there are others three way to Monte Berico, one is “Stradella del diavolo” open in day hours it’s a path in parallel to the archway begining at the start point of the archway. The second one is “Le scalette” a very high slope staircase from Borgo Berga to the middle point of the Archway and the last one is not open to the public is a hidden way inside the hill more or less the same path as the “scalette” staircase. Thank you again for sharing interesting monument info. Max

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    • Salve Max,

      Siamo “vicini.” Thanks for the feedback and the additional info. You can read my take on l’Arco delle Scallette at my personal blog site: . There are many more tidbits of info about Vicenza as well. Take a look around and do let me know.

      Ciao ciao.

      Tom

      Reply

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