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Montefortino, Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Ambro

Only a few kilometres from Montefortino, in a narrow valley enclosed in the triangle created by Monte Amandola, Pizzo Tre Vescovi and Monte Priora, stands the evocative Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Ambro. Immersed in the luxuriant nature of the Sibylline Mountain National Park, the building stands at 583 metres a.s.l. and enjoys the peace that the singsong rustling of the leaves and the constant flow of the waters of the Ambro never fail to transmit. According to the sacred tradition, as recorded on a commemorative plaque ordered by Father Federico da Mogliano, on a day in the year one thousand the Virgin Mary appeared to the young Santina, a shepherd girl who had been mute since birth. The girl, who went every day to pray to the image of the Madonna enclosed in the cavity of a beech tree rendering homage to it with the flowers that she picked along the way, received from the heavenly mother of the Saviour the gift of the word. Almost certainly at first a simple aedicula was built at the holy place of the apparition, and later a chapel, of which the first evidence is found in a testamentary legacy of 1073. Dating from the period between 1610 and 1640 is the construction of a new structure designed by the architect Ventura Venturi and the consequent transfer of the image of the Madonna of the Ambro. Since 1897 the Marian sanctuary has been occupied by the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin which from year to year has been responsible for maintaining it. In the 19th century the Capuchins also undertook the creation of a square capable of containing the abundant flow of believers who in all seasons come to visit the holy place. Every 15th August the sanctuary, considered the oldest in the Marche, becomes the backdrop for a glorious holiday, organized to celebrate the Queen of Heaven who over time has granted innumerable graces to the faithful who have appealed to her. Entering via the loggia dating from 1936 which adorns the simple a capanna faēade, we are enveloped by the mystical silence that dominates the interior, which is distinguished by a single barrel-vaulted nave. The sanctuary has six chapels of which the most important is in the area of the apse, housing the multi-coloured terracotta statue of the Madonna with Child dated 1562 and a series of paintings with the Stories of the Virgin, Prophets and Sibyls by Martino Bonfini. The chapel, entrance to which is through two doors opening to the sides of the high altar, is pervaded by the feeble light that filters through three windows placed along the wall dividing the temple from the rest of the church.

  1. There are many different and always exciting excursions among the natural marvels of the Azure Mountains. The Mountain Community Council has also maintained for years a dense network of paths, all rigorously signposted, which make it possible to enjoy nature in a perfect euphony between serenity and consciousness. Owing to its rich variety, of particular interest is the excursion along the valley of the Ambro, moulded by the tumultuous hands of the torrent of the same name which, like a sculptor with a chisel, manages to give matter an enchanting shape. Following the bed of the Ambro upwards the gorge narrows until it becomes a crevice called Infernaccetto (Little Hell). The colours, which before were brilliant, become matt, then from the growing darkness come hues full of mystery. The intense odours become pungent like air which gradually loses the warmth of the sun. The more expert, using adequate climbing equipment, can climb the steep walls to go on to discover the sources, while beginners are invited to continue along the path that leads towards the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Ambro.