The Shrine of the Madonnetta – or, more precisely, Santuario di Nostra Signora Assunta di Carbonara – is one of the main Marian shrines in the province of Genoa.
Known, for the most part, as the site of a prestigious Genoese crib, the Sanctuary is embellished with numerous frescoes, paintings and relics, and is truly a marvel.
Getting to the Sanctuary is very easy, thanks to the funicular railway that starts right in the centre, so there is no excuse not to visit it!
Below, you will find all the useful information on the Sanctuary of the Madonnetta and its crib.
Shrine of the Madonnetta: how to get there
The Shrine of the Madonnetta is located halfway between the Castelletto and Righi districts, where the excursion to the Forti di Genova begins on Salita della Madonnetta.
Getting there on foot from the centre is quite long as you have to walk up a series of uphill creuze and it takes at least half an hour.
The quickest way is to arrive by the Zecca-Righi funicular, which departs at Largo Zecca and arrives at Righi in 10 minutes, making 6 stops.
The stop closest to the Santuario della Madonnetta, called Madonnetta, is the fourth.
From here, you must take the uphill crêuza that turns left and then turn left again.
A few minutes and you will have reached the sanctuary.
The funicular runs every twenty minutes from 6.40 a.m. until midnight.
Info for arriving with buggies
It is possible to take a pushchair on the funicular railway, but bear in mind that you have to walk up a few steps to get to the entrance of the Sanctuary.
History of the Shrine
It takes its name from the alabaster statuette of Madonna that was sheltered by the preacher Giacinto on the hillock where the Sanctuary was built.
The Shrine of the Madonnetta was built for the Discalced Augustinian Friars in 1696, and the design was drawn up by the architect Antonio Ricca.
It is said that Padre Giacinto received a solemn promise from the Virgin Mary that she would appear in the Sanctuary on 15 August every year until the end of the world.
For this reason, the friars opened – and still open today – their doors to the faithful, so that all could honour the return of Virgin.
This celebration lasted continuously from 1696 to 1943, when it was suspended due to the war, and was resumed in 2012 on the initiative of the rector Father Eugenio Cavallari.
On 15 August each year, therefore, from dawn to dusk, the Sanctuary opens its doors to the faithful for the‘Attendendo Maria‘ function, thus honouring Mary’s descent into the Sanctuary.
Sanctuary Madonnetta Genoa
As soon as you arrive at the Sanctuary, it is impossible not to notice the octagonal churchyard paved in rissoeu, with the Augustinians‘eagle.
Inside, there is a single nave, also octagonal, flanked by six side chapels (three on each side).
At the back, two flights of stairs lead to the presbytery whose high altar houses the wooden crucifix by Cambiaggio.
Below the presbytery, another flight of stairs leads to the crypt that houses the altar with the alabaster statue of the Madonnetta above it, and the tomb of Padre Giacinto.
The crypt leads to the room with the cribs.
The shrine holds something like 25,000 relics including skulls and bones.
It is truly a place rich in works of art with its magnificent frescoes and treasures including the, aforementioned, 18th-century nativity scene.
The nativity scene at the Sanctuary of the Madonnetta
The nativity scene at the Santuario della Madonnetta is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful in Liguria.
Set in a 17th/1700s Genoa where palaces and churches still exist, the nativity scene reproduces scenes of daily life thanks to the presence of a hundred or so statuettes, made entirely of wood.
The Madonnetta nativity scene is permanent, i.e. it can be visited all year round (and not only at Christmas time).
▶ If you want more information on the Madonnetta Sanctuary’s nativity scene, you can read this article.
Many do not know of the existence of this marvel of Baroque architecture located a stone‘s throw from the city centre.
With this article, I hope to have intrigued the many and given some useful ideas for organising a visit to the Sanctuary and its equally marvellous nativity scene.
Sanctuary of the Madonnetta
Address – Salita della Madonnetta 5, 16136 Genova.
Opening hours – 10 a.m.-12 p.m. holidays, 4 p.m.-6 p.m. weekdays.
Contacts – Telephone: 39 0102725308 / Email: [email protected]