what to visit

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary - cannobio

The Sanctuary of the Most Holy Piety, on the beautiful lakeside of Cannobio, with Il Portico standing on its sides.

It was built by the will of San Carlo Borromeo between 1575 and 1614 following the miraculous events of 1522 that took place in the house of the Zacchei family. In their house, hanging on the wall of a room, there was a small painting depicting Christ emerging from the tomb with the Madonna and Saint John next to Him, which was seen to fill with blood and tears.

On the evening of January 9th, a little bone, the Sacred Rib, similar to a rib proportionate to the body of the Christ depicted in the painting, emerged from the side.

Today, the small painting and some cloths soaked in blood belonging to those who witnessed the events are kept in a niche of the main altar of the Sanctuary. The Sacred Rib is preserved in a reliquary in the Church of San Vittore.

The single-nave building, with a rectangular apse and an elegant lantern, houses a rich decoration dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. It features paintings, stucco work, and the use of polychrome marbles. The most precious and valuable work of art is undoubtedly the altarpiece, an oil painting on wood depicting the Ascent to Calvary, created by the renowned Gaudenzio Ferrari around 1540.

Every year, on the evening of January 7th/8th, the anniversary of the miracle is celebrated with a solemn procession that involves the transportation of the relic of the Sacred Rib from the parish church of San Vittore to the Sanctuary of the Holy Piety. The procession is illuminated by hundreds of candles, which have replaced the traditional “Lümineri” (paper balloons with a candle inside) over the years. These candles are displayed in windows, along the streets, and on the boats accompanying the procession from the lake.

During the celebration, it is a tradition for the people of Cannobio to enjoy the typical dinner in their homes or in restaurants. The meal typically starts with a pasta and bean soup as a first course, followed by luganighe (local sausages) with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut as the main course.

The Festival of Madonna del Rosario, which takes place every year on the first Sunday of October, is particularly enchanting. It begins with a three-day preparation period and culminates in a lakeside procession along Via Castello, featuring the statue of Madonna del Rosario, which is lowered from the altar in the Sanctuary for the occasion.

The evening before, it is a tradition to have a bonfire at Castello, on the beach by the lido.