In the small town of Avellino, Italy there is a beautiful opportunity for a pilgrimage to the Santuario di Montevergine (The Sanctuary of Montevergine). The pilgrimage itself is a walk that climbs nearly 4,000 feet (1,300 meters) up from the town below. It takes about 1.5 hours for most individuals, with the most breathtaking scenery as you climb.
There are several local stories of miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary to her devotees as they make this journey. However, no matter what you experience yourself on the trail, if you open your heart you will be able to feel the devotional love that thousands of pilgrims have had traveling the same path.
Throughout the trail there are several shrines, with two of the chapels you will see while walking within the first 30 minutes. The first is an outdoor chapel (The Barefoot Chapel) dedicated to those who will remove their shoes in honor of their dedication to walk for the Virgin Mary without protection. Along the way there are also a lot of peaceful places to stop and picnic if you want to spend more time in nature or meditation.
Once you reach the top, you can enter the main basilica and go through the back to a special shrine dedicated to Mary. It is a really beautiful and peaceful place to spend some time in meditation or prayer.
On the way back, my partner and I traveled during sunset, and even a bit in the dark. But a little dog we met at the sanctuary began to follow us down the trail and ended up walking with us the entire way back to town.
I felt a very sincere blessing for taking the time to visit this unique (and off-the-tourist-track) sanctuary. I would highly recommend it for anyone visiting southern Italy, especially those in the Naples area as it is only a short train ride or 45 minute drive away.
Below are some more of the pictures taken during the pilgrimage: