A pilgrimage site between history and legends
A tiny village in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Castelmonte belongs to the municipality of Prepotto. It is famed for the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin, dating back to the 5th-7th centuries and still an important pilgrimage site. It was originally reserved for the worship of St Michael Archangel, to whom the crypt is dedicated, which is also the oldest room in the structure where you can admire frescoes by Giovanni da Udine.
Only later, in two documents from 1175 and 1244, did the complex become called “Santa Maria del Monte” because of manifestations of the Virgin Mary said to have occurred there. According to legend, the devil challenged the Virgin Mary to see who would reach the top of the mountain first. The city of Cividale would be the prize. In neighbouring Portici, a footprint Mary is said to have left is found on a stone. Defeated, the devil is said to have sunk into Hell, his fall opening the chasm called “Bùse del Diàul” on Mount Spich.
Another special feature is the statue of the Madonna and Child, made of dark-coloured limestone and therefore also called the “Black Madonna”.