THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF HEALTH IN MANAROLA
The sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute is located in the locality of Volastra, a hilltop village of Manarola, arranged in an amphitheater above a hillock, between terraced vineyards and olive trees. The name of Volastra is probably due to this tree: "vicus oleaster". In the upper part of the town stands the sacred building, dating back to the 12th century in Romanesque style, with subsequent Gothic architectural additions.
The gabled façade crowned with hanging arches is built in a simple way with ashlars of local stone, on which opens the portal with an ogival arch in sandstone, surmounted by a Gothic mullioned window. On the sides of the building there are narrow single-lancet windows.
The interior has a single rectangular hall, with a barrel vaulted roof. The Gothic arched apse houses a Baroque altar. The venerated image of the Madonna was crowned in 1891, but originally there was the 15th century triptych with San Lorenzo between the Sant'Antonio Abate and San Bernardino, attributed to the Master of the Cinque Terre, now preserved in the church of Manarola.
Legend has it that at the time of the Saracen raids, the wealthiest inhabitants of Volastra hid the church bells underground, to prevent the glitter of the metal from attracting the pirates. Despite this precaution, the pirates still attacked the village and finding nothing valuable, they devastated the country. Much later, an old man appeared in Volastra who spoke with a strange oriental accent, he said that he was one of the survivors of the Saracen raid and that he had managed to escape. Now he finally he could find the treasure of the bells. However, he passed away the same day without revealing the exact location of the bells, which still ring on stormy nights ...