THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF REGIO IN VERNAZZA
The sanctuary io di Nostra Signora di Reggio di Vernazza is located in a natural square 315 meters above sea level. Surrounded by holm oaks, cedars, horse chestnuts and an ancient secular cypress, the building insists on an area already populated in Roman and medieval times. Probably a pagan cemetery area, the sanctuary is mentioned for the first time in 1248 with the name of the church of Santa Maria, but a religious building was already present before the 11th century, as evidenced by the remains in the crypt. In 1318 it appears mentioned with its current name.
The gabled façade is the only Romanesque remnant of the church, built in stone ashlars and surmounted by Baroque decorations. On the portal there is a lunette with a marble bas-relief depicting the Madonna and Child. The interior was originally a basilica plan, reduced to three naves in 1850, after having transformed it into a Latin cross structure, divided by columns with still the ancient capitals. The decorations are from the Baroque period and there is venerated the image of a Black Madonna with Child who supports the scroll of Sacred Scripture, called the "Africana", according to the legend by San Luca, more prosaically attributed to a Genoese school or Tuscany of the fourteenth century. The veneration for the sacred effigy takes place since 1615, after numerous miraculous healings, while the coronation took place in 1853.
The annexed guesthouse was built in the 19th century and is the seat of a convent of nuns.
Near the sanctuary there are several tombstones and the so-called "column of weeping", which another legend wants to be the stone of a knight of the Malaspina family, who died during the Crusades and is buried here.