Crowning Feast

The chiesina of Sant’Anna is situated half way along the road which leads from Pieve di Monti di Villa to Montefegatesi. This road is very scenic with wonderful views both towards the Prato Fiorito and the main Apuane chain. From it spring many shady footpaths which lead through thick chestnut woods. It’s lovely at any time of the year when the sun is shining.

Every year the chiesina (little church) celebrates a feast day – the only time when it is ever used. Tables and benches are placed outside it and hearty country fayre is distributed.

This is how it looked at the end of July 2006.

This year the Festa was on 20th July and it’ll be around the same time next year.

The chiesina is correctly titled the “sanctuary of Foce Colonia”. For over four hundred years, the image of the Madonna has been venerated here, not only by the inhabitants of Monti di Villa, but also by other villages in the area. The building of this church is told by father Cesare Franciotti in his “Lives of the Lucca Saints” printed in 1613. In 1564 the two communities of Lugnano and Bugnano (two villages now completely deserted and being swallowed back into the forest) joined together to build a small chapel. Mastro Sebastiano from Lammari painted and donated the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is similar to that of Our Lady of Miracles of Lucca.

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So many were the graces received from this Virgin that it was decided to build the much larger chapel we see today and which was completed in 1609. The portico in front of the church was added in 1674. The celebrity of this image and the position of the church, facing out towards distant views of the sea, drew even the devotion of sailors who invoked the Virgin’s help in their dangerous sea voyages. Indeed, until the middle of the nineteenth century, the port of Livorno sent annual gifts to this chapel’s Madonna, known as “Stella Maris” (star of the sea) and invoked as “Our Lady of Monte Incoronata” (crowned mountain), the name of the mountain that stands next to the Prato Fiorito and which we climbed for the first time last summer.

Anyway, we were certainly blessed by a scrumptious repast when we attended the Festa. It’s nice to recollect these summer events now that we are fast approaching the winter solstice.

Gorgeous sunsets have been seen, so stunning that several of my friends have posted them in Facebook. Temperatures now will descend to freezing and we’re glad that our wood-stock is ample and that the electric under-blanket works!

This is my contribution of photos to an amazing sunset two days ago:

 

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