From the top of the promontory that divides Monterosso into two districts you can see a magnificent stretch of sea. Whoever crosses the short pedestrian tunnel to reach the rocky spur will find himself before an breath-taking spectacle: a blue-painted panorama and, as if to protect its purity of color, the statue of a saint watching over it.
The Saint wears the habit, looking peaceful and serene, and has a wolf as a companion: all this clearly says that he is Saint Francis, the patron saint of Italy. In the Cinque Terre there are many celebrations that celebrate the friar of Assisi and the whole coast has been devoted to him for centuries: four hundred years ago, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, on the promontory that rises between Monterosso and Fegina, a small church was erected in his honor, consecrated in 1623. Right next to the church a convent of Capuchin friars was built, which still rests on the splendid Ligurian hill. In 1960, Father Daniele of Pra, in agreement with the Monterosso community of the faithful, commissioned a statue to commemorate St. Francis. The artist chosen was the Lombard sculptor Silvio Monfrini, who realized the admirable work and had it brought to the village, on a train, during the summer of two years later. On 5 August 1962 the statue was inaugurated. Since then, the patron saint of Italy protects that stretch of sea.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the construction of the convent, the Capuchin friars of Monterosso allow free visits to the statue of Saint Francis and the buildings, whose artistic heritage will be enriched with an exhibition of Silvio Monfrini’s preparatory works and sketches. Every evening until 31st August 2019 all Cinque Terre visitors can participate to the event.
The guided tours also include the Church of San Francesco, which houses a series of small artistic, sculptural and pictorial treasures. Among the most famous paintings are the Veronica by Bernardo Strozzi, known as “the Cappuccino” for his faith, and the Crucifixion, attributed to the Flemish painter Antoon Van Dyck.
The naturalistic and artistic treasures of the Cinque Terre are just waiting to be admired. Book your stay on the Ligurian Coast, among the saints who paint and artists who pray!