Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grace when you need it: Italy's small shrines

Italy is a Catholic country, and we're reminded of it at every turn. There are over 300 churches in Rome, and hundreds more shrines on, it sometimes seems, every corner. It's easy to become inured to the ubiquitous symbols. Yet, there are shrines that make us stop and pause, and here are a few of them.




Almost every mountain top in Italy (and sometimes even just the top of a hill) has a cross. It's often the only way we know we actually got to the top, since usually there are no other markers. The one below, which we've posted previously, is particularly poignant. I thought an out-of-sorts teen had bent some of the metal around this cross, but the metal turns out to be a part of a small military plane that crashed into Monte Pellechia on Christmas Day, 1960.





The Virgin Maryshrine at the top of this blog would appear to be like hundreds of others. But this one made me stop because it is lit by a modern, eco-friendly fluorescent bulb. In the small hill town of Segni.


Shrines where people have died are increasingly common in the U.S., as well as in Italy. This one is beautifully arranged and maintained--complete with cigarette lighter, and it touched my heart. In the seaside town of Fregene.






Statues, usually to Mary, but not always, often show up on the beginning portion of a hike, and usually bless the mountains, the mountain town and, we hope, the hikers. On this hike, we went from the town of Sonnino to the top of the Lepini mountains' Monte della Fate (Mountain of the Fairies), part of a brigands hide-out area in the 18th and 19th centuries. The vista overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea and Circeo. Here we were protected by not one but two Marys--one at the beginning of the hike (with an apparent attempt to shield her from vandals) and one at the top.














We welcome additions to touching and unusual shrines and shrine locations. Dianne

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