The Church of St. Mary of Mount Berico (Italian: Basilica di S. Maria di Monte Berico) is a Roman Catholic and minor basilica in Vicenza, northern Italy. The church is a Marian shrine, and stands on the mountain top, 1K south west of the Vicenza downtown Train station, with sweeping vistas of Vicenza below.
According to the legend, the Blessed Virgin appeared on the hill to a peasant worker named Vincenza Pasini; the first time occurred on March 7, 1426, the last on August 1, 1428. At this time in the Veneto, the people and economy had been suffering from a terrible plague for years. The Madonna promised that if the people of Vicenza built a church on the top of the hill she would rid them of the plague. The people kept their promise and the church was built in 3 months.The original church later became a sanctuary. The original basilica has been restored repeatedly during the centuries, sometimes with famous architects such as Palladio, Piovene and Miglioranza. All these changes are still visible today.
The church itself is free to visit and contains a number of artworks. On Saturdays / Sundays and public holidays is open from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
There are several Masses daily: every hour from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
At the refectory of the Sanctuary it is possible to admire the majestic “The Supper of St Gregory the Great” mural painting of Paolo Veronese (1572). In the same room of the painting there’s also a small but very interesting archaeological museum. Both are free entrance with the same hours of the church, from the square looking the stairs of the Sanctuary, the entrance is on the right.
The Monte Berico hill is reachable on foot in about 20 mins from the Vicenza train station area trough a covered walkway of 150 arches.
The Monte Berico mount was the stage of a decisive and bloody battle during the Risorgimento and the revolutions of 1848 in Vicenza. On June the 10th, 1848 11.000 men under the command of General Giovanni Durando tried to defend the City of Vicenza in every way against The Austrian Empire army, led by General Radetzky. The bulk of the Austrian attack was directed against the positions on Monte Berico, the real keystone of the Vicenza defences.
The Santuario, the Villa Valmarana ai Nani and Villa La Rotonda are all connected by a lovely 15 minutes or so walk.