THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF SOVIORE
Legend has it that on the arrival of the Longabards of Rotari in the 7th century, the inhabitants of the disappeared village of Albareto fled to the sea, hiding an image of the Madonna underground nearby. After more than a century, in 740, a priest from Monterosso, passing by there, noticed a white dove flying over a small house or a tunnel, depending on the version. The next day the priest returned with some unskilled workers who dug into the place where the dove flew the day before and found the hidden wooden sculpture.
The Soviore sanctuary is the oldest Marian sanctuary in Liguria. Probably a first building was erected in the time of the legend, a small building that over the centuries increased its importance to a new and more impressive construction in the fourteenth century. In the 18th century the sanctuary was completely renovated and the interior passed from three naves to a single hall. The capitals and the remains of the ancient columns were still around the sanctuary before the Jubilee work in 2000.
The church as we see it today therefore dates back mainly to 1300 and the eighteenth-century restructuring. On the façade it presents the valuable ogival portal, which bears a marble bas-relief in the center with the Madonna Addolorata, surmounted by a Gothic rose window. The bell tower attached to the building is from the Romanesque period, with three floors, crowned by a spire and opened by mullioned windows. On the left side is the arched building of the guesthouse, built in the eighteenth century and enlarged in 1909 after a testamentary bequest, as indicated by the commemorative plaque.
The interior has a barrel vault frescoed in 1872 by the priest Mentasti with cycles of frescoes depicting the story of the discovery of the sacred image, and preserves paintings from the Genoese school, an Agati organ from 1834 and the famous wooden statue of the Madonna holding on to the knees the body of the dead Christ of the fourteenth century.
In the large square in front of them stand cypresses and centuries-old holm oaks, recognized monumental trees.