19 Jun The Hermitage of Calomini, the rock-carved shrine
Of special and very striking places I have visited and seen several in my many trips and outings. This one, however, that I present to you today probably beats them all both for the particularity of its architecture and for its location but above all because it is an absolutely regenerative place. We are in Garfagnana and after telling you about the wonderful Fortress of Verrucole today I take you to discover the Hermitage of Calomini.
Visible from afar to me, it immediately reminded me of the Shrine of Our Lady of Corona in the province of Verona. Both in fact are as if suspended in mid-air and above all built into the rock. The Hermitage of Calomini is theperfect example of the fusion between the hand of man, nature and the Divine work. A place that will completely regenerate you thanks to the silence, the welcoming nature of the complex and the beauty of the surrounding nature. Let's go now to see in detail this wonderful complex in Garfagnana and then move on to tell you about its history and legends. At the bottom of the article you will also find information on how to get there!
HAVEN'T YOU READ THE ARTICLE ON THE WART FORTRESS YET ??
The description of the hermitage
Once you arrive at the square in front of the entrance you will be immediately greeted by three fountains of the purest and freshest water coming from the mountain. This is the place where the apparition of the Madonna is believed to have taken place in one of the legends about the origin of the Hermitage, and you will be reminded of this by both the statuette and also the effigy. Continuing on you will find a small avenue that on the left will let you admire the wonderful green of the Garfagnana while on the right the rock wall on which the church is built and the entrance to the Sacred Grotto. Here inside you will be catapulted into an atmosphere of pure religiosity and this you can perceive both from the beautiful image of the Madonna and also from the altar dedicated to Padre Pio. All this made even more suggestive by the small lights that make the rocky "ceiling" look almost like a starry sky. Continuing on you will come across the entrance to the church. It has a single nave carved a good 20 meters into the rock of the mountain. Inside of particular note are: the carved walnut choirs; the miraculous effigy of the Blessed Virgin of Martyrs; valuable paintings; marble and stone side altars; and the wonderful tabernacle.
To visit the church, admission is free but it is open only on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. while on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon. All other areas of the complex are always open for visitors.
The history of the Hermitage of Calomini
The Hermitage of Calomini was erected around the year 1000 in a place where there is believed to have been an apparition of the Virgin Mary. From a simple and small hermitage that housed a few devotees over the years the veneration of the Virgin spread considerably so that it was necessary to enlarge the church. Beginning in the 17th century pilgrims arrived from various dioceses, making the hermitage one of the most important prayer and religious places in the area. In the early eighteenth century further work was carried out such as the construction of the double colonnade, the enlargement of the cave, the arrangement of the floor, etc., all thanks to large donations from the faithful. The hermits of Calomini guarded this shrine until 1868, then the Capuchin Fathers of Lucca took over and since 2011 the Disciples of the Annunciation of the city of Prato(a city I mentioned in the article you can read HERE). Let us now look together instead at the legends about the origin of the Hermitage of Calomini in Garfagnana.
Legends about the origin
On the origin of the Calomini Hermitage in Garfagnana there are mainly three legends that I am now going to tell you in detail.
1) The first legend tells of a shepherdess to whom the image of Our Lady appeared at the place where you still find the fountain of pure water today. The news of the apparition spread to the nearby villages so that some shepherds decided to collect the sacred relic of Our Lady and take it to a church in Gallicano. The next day, however, it was found again at the place of the apparition, so they all decided that the image should be left there and that they should build a church around it.
2) The second legend says that some shepherds found near the mountain a statue of Our Lady. These decided to store it inside a cave safe from the weather. As a result of this fact, so many miracles took place that the place became a pilgrimage destination and later a church was built there.
3) The third legend about the origin of the Hermitage of Calomini is a little bit "darker" and tells of a woman who while climbing the high rock face of the mountain stumbles and falls into the void. As she fell, however, she invoked the Blessed Virgin not to die, and once on the ground she was miraculously unharmed. The news spread to nearby villages and as a result it was decided to build a church at the place where the girl fell.
How to get to the Hermitage of Calomini
The hermitage is located at an altitude of about 400 meters in the municipality of Fabbriche di Vergemoli above Gallicano in Garfagnana. To get there you have to follow the signs leading from Gallicano to Grotta del Vento to the junction for Trasillico.From here you will have to go down a very narrow road (I had difficulty with this too) that takes you all the way to the square. If you don't want to go all this way then the other way to get to the hermitage is to park at the beginning and take about 20 minutes of the trail on foot. I remind you that at the top near the complex you will also find an excellent restaurant where you can stop for lunch or just a cool drink.
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