They are the church and the Franciscan monastery of Sabbioncello, the church of Arlate (Calco) and the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Bosco in Imbersago, an imposing seventeenth-century church visited by hundreds of pilgrims every year
Two small religious architectural jewels - the Franciscan Church and Monastery of Sabbioncello and the Cluniac Church of Arlate (Calco) - and the Santuario della Madonna del Bosco at Imbersago, an impressive seventeenth century church visited by hundreds of pilgrims on Our Lady's related festivities, represent pleasant highlights of a tour around the Adda riverside in the Province of Lecco.
The first place to visit is the sixteenth-century church and the Franciscan monastery of Santa Maria Nascente, located in Sabbioncello (foto), a beautiful hamlet in the surroundings of Merate, upon a cliff overhanging the provincial road no. 342, a few kilometers before Calco, coming from Milan to Lecco. It belongs to the diocese of Milan and the management is entrusted to the order of Franciscan Friars Minor. It was known that a small church from the beginning of the fifteenth century was erected in Sabbioncello and this first building was then replaced by the new church, in late Gothic style, whose construction began in 1508. The votive frescoes that decorate the right wall of the nave date back to the first half of the sixteenth century. In 1540, four sided chapels were built in the south of the nave. In 1553 the bell tower was added. The church was later expanded and renovated, following the passage of the convent to the Franciscan Order reformed. The new presbytery and the great cloister were built and the square outside the church and the chapels on the hill with the Via Crucis were added.
The church is open for the celebration of the holy masses, on Sundays at 07.00am, 08.30am, 11.00am, 06.30 pm. On workdays at 09.00am, 06.30 pm. For arranging visits: tel. +39 9902027. Website: www.sabbioncello.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Sabbioncello you can go forth following the signs to Sartirana village and its small lake, surrounded by farms, and from there to the Santuario della Madonna del Bosco at Imbersago, the second stop of our journey, standing on top of the 349 steps of the Scala Santa (Holy stair), a valuable monument of the Lombard Baroque enjoying a scenic location on the river valley. The church (“Shrine of Our Lady of the Woods”) is devoted to Our Lady of the Woods or Our Lady of Miracles, because of the miracles handed down by the popular tradition. On the site of the Lady’s apparitions a small chapel was erected, enriched by a remarkable fresco of Barabino, representing the Virgin and Child. The Churche, rising above the chapel was built in later times, and solemnly blessed in 1646 and later extended. On top of the Scala Santa lies the majestic bronze statue of Pope John XXIII, which was inaugurated by the then Cardinal Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI.
The church is open every day from 6.30 to 11.30am and from 14.00 to 18.30pm- On May 9th, the day of the annual celebration of the sanctuary, and during the whole following week, a traditional open air market is held around the church. Tel. 039/9920163. Website: www.madonnadelbosco.org Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Santuario you must go down to the main road and immediately turn left to reach, after one kilometer, the church of San Gottardo e Colombano at Arlate is a small religious building standing on top of a hill overlooking the Adda valley, facing the hills and the Prealps around Bergamo and Lecco. Its core was originally built in the tenth century, when the church was was part of the system of fortifications of the castle of Cisano Bergamasco, which is not far away, on the opposite side of the Adda. After the Basilica of San Pietro al Monte in Civate, the church of Arlate (foto) is among the most important historic monuments the Province of Lecco boasts. The inside, like in other monastic churches, is simple and almost bare, divided into three naves, the central one is covered with wooden trusses, while square piers support the load of arches and walls with the stones left in sight. The numerous restoration works have changed the appearance of the church, which still shows on its dome the fresco of Christ Pantocrator in the late Romanesque style dating from the third century. Arlate can be reached from Milan through the provincial road no. 342 till the roundabout at Calco, then after 200 mt. turn right following the sign “Chiesa di Arlate”.
The church can be visited every third Sunday from March to October with free guided tour upon reservation (Calco Municipality - Comune di Calco – tel. +39 9910010 from 10am till noon). Website: www.comune.calco.lc.it Email: email@example.com
Last but not least, two suggestions for a refreshing snack or a quick lunch during the visits. “Osteria Bar Sala” (Calco), rather close to Sabbioncello on the main road after Calco roundabout: a bar and typical trattoria managed by the same family for more than a century, serving local Brianza dishes, and with a pleasant outdoor space under a wisteria, which has a wonderful blossom in late spring.
On the road from Imbersago to Arlate, just at the bottom of the stairs of the Madonna del Bosco shrine and also close to Arlate church, there is “Il Baretto”, a cafè and trattoria managed by a family for several years. From here you can enjoy a wonderful view on the village of Villa d’Adda on the opposite side of the Adda valley.