The splendid city of Loreto Marche, central Italy, is one of the main Christian pilgrimage sites in the world and is also a perfect destination for lovers of history, culture, and art.
Loreto rises among the fascinating hills of the Riviera del Conero, in the Ancona Province. The view from above stretches from the Adriatic Sea to the Monte Conero, up to the Apennines of Umbria-Le Marche.
This village, a city of faith, is famous for guarding the Holy House of the Virgin Mary, one of the most important holy places in the Catholic world.
Its atmosphere is unique and its beauty is impressive. It is difficult to describe the different scenarios that can be captured in Piazza della Madonna, the famous main square. Here, you can observe committed pilgrims, enthusiastic art lovers, and skeptics praying. At Loreto, there’s so much spirituality, hope, and reflection and it’s not possible to remain an indifferent observer.
Let’s discover more about the history that made this place so unique and its attractions!
Things to do and places to visit in Loreto Marche
Admire Piazza della Madonna
If you are able to visit this square for a day with just a few tourists and pilgrims, I suggest you admire its beauty, enhanced by its silence. Otherwise, consider the high number of devotees and tourists a real-life scenario. Watch the people passing by, their expressions, their amazement.
Visit the Cathedral (Basilica of Loreto) and the Holy House of the Virgin Mary
The Cathedral of Loreto (Basilica della Santa Casa) is a rare example of a fortress basilica, and a result of collaborative work by generations of renowned Italian architects, artists, and painters such as Giuliano da Sangallo, Giuliano da Maiano, Donato Bramante, and Vanvitelli.
The cathedral was built to preserve a precious treasure: the walls believed by the faithful to be from the house of Mary, where the Virgin Mary was born, grew up and had her Annunciation. According to Christian tradition, the house was transported by angels to Loreto. It’s located in the heart of the cathedral, just below the dome.
Inside the Holy House, there is the statue of Our Lady of Loreto (or Vergine Lauretana), a modern copy of the original destroyed in a fire in 1921. The statue, carved from Cedar of Lebanon, is a “Black Madonna,” a consequence of the smoke from votive candles.
This basilica is one of the beautiful cathedrals in Italy, in Gothic-Renaissance style. It attracts millions of Catholic pilgrims and visitors every year and it is one of the most revered shrines in the world.
Ph. Credits Giorgio Benedetti
3. Experience the Patrol Path of the Loreto Sanctuary
The patrol path (Camminamenti di Ronda) characterizes the appearance of the fortress basilica, which is very rare on Italian territory. Its function was to be a protected path that allowed the medieval guards to control the surroundings from the top of the walls, facilitating the territory’s defense.
The path is now open to the public on established days and times, and can only be accessed by a steep spiral staircase, known also as “Stairway to Heaven”. This visit takes about 45 minutes and rewards the visitors’ efforts with a breathtaking view of the entire Conero Riviera.
Discover the artistic treasures of Loreto Marche
Loreto is not only a pilgrim site but also an artistic town with an immeasurable cultural heritage. The Basilica hosts artworks and frescoes by famous Italian painters such Cristoforo Roncalli, known as Pomarancio. The “Palazzo Apostolico” hosts an art gallery which exhibits masterpieces by artists such as Lorenzo Lotto and Pomarancio, for example.
After the artistic and cultural visit, you can take a stroll through many ancient streets. In addition, you can visit the typical stores, stop in a local restaurant or in a traditional Italian bar.
Discover the history of religious tattoos (Lauretani Tattoos)
Here I’ll share with you a very singular aspect of the history of tattoos. In the past, many believers tattooed religious symbols to prove their devotion, after a strenuous pilgrimage and to be distinguished from the “infidels”.
So, this ancient rite in the Marche region was very different from modern customs. Wooden blocks were used with religious figures engraved in bas-relief. The image was printed on the pilgrim’s skin and the drawing was pricked with needles, following the lines of the stencil. After this step, the wound was colored with a liquid made with ash and cherry juice, fixing the symbol permanently to the skin.
This practice, rich in history, has been accurately reproduced by a tattoo artist from Le Marche, Jonatal Carducci. So, the artist now offers to devotees the opportunity to tattoo sacred symbols made manually with the Hand Poke technique, a method very close to the ancient traditions.
The ancient wooden tablets, carved manually, are kept in the Museum of the Holy House of Loreto, together with other objects related to the city’s devotion.
Visit the Aeronautical Museum
Madonna of Loreto is the patron saint of aviators: an important reason to have the Historical Museum of Aeronautics located in the city of Loreto.
The Museum, a few meters away from Piazza della Madonna, has an exclusive collection of unique and original pieces of the aviation history. These include authentic military uniforms of the Second World War, the post-war period, flight equipment, interpretive displays on the Air Force, and a specific area dedicated to model collecting. Admission is free.
Ph. Facebook Aeronautical Museum
Loreto Italy Map
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Loreto Marche is a special destination. So, I recommend you visit it with curious eyes and take your time while visiting.
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Thanks to Marche Region and Fondazione Marche Cultura for the Project Photowalk 2018. Thank you for showing me hidden angles and curiosities about Le Marche.
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