Churches, Abbeys and Shrines in Forlì: A Journey between Spirituality and History

A journey through spiritual destinations from Forlì to Santa Sofia

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In the heart of Romagna, a journey through the spiritual depths opens up, a journey that is intertwined with the millenary history of sacred places. Here, each stone carries with it the traces of ancient legends and preserves the faith that has crossed the centuries.

This land, steeped in traditions and enveloped in timeless charm, is revealed in an unparalleled itinerary. Between the imposing walls of the Romanesque churches and the secrets of the hidden monasteries, you enter along paths traveled by pilgrims of the past. Along this road you reach the abbeys and shrines nestled among the gentle curves of the hills, places where time seems to expand and leave room only for contemplation.

A trip suitable for everyone, it does not require specific technical skills and it offers an engaging experience. Each step is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a unique atmosphere, surrounded by the spirituality and timeless beauty of Romagna.

  • Length
    48 hours
  • Interests
    Art & Culture
  • Target
  • First stop - Church of Santa Maria dei Servi Forlì

    The journey begins within the ancient walls of Forlì, a city with noble traditions and an illustrious past, precisely from the church of Santa Maria dei Servi, renowned as the Church of San Pellegrino Laziosi.

    San Pellegrino lived in the 14th century and he is famous for a miracle of healing. Struck by gangrene in his leg due to his penance of never sitting down, he risked amputation. The night before the intervention, praying in front of a Crucifix (the work was made by the artist Giuliano da Rimini and is located inside the church), he had a feverish dream in which Christ healed his wound. Upon awakening, he realized he had been miraculously saved.
    Still alive, he became known as the Holy Healer. For this reason, he is considered the patron saint of cancer patients and those suffering from chronic pain in the feet and legs.

    The church of Santa Maria dei Servi, built in the 12th century, has undergone several transformations over the centuries, until it assumed its current form in the 18th century.

    The façade, made of terracotta and characterized by sober simplicity, creates a fascinating contrast with the interior, dating back to the seventeenth century. On the right of the church you can find the evocative chapel dedicated to San Pellegrino, whose design is attributed to the famous architect Giuseppe Merenda. Of particular interest are the relics of the Saint, kept behind the altar, and the painting "Christ crucified who heals the leg in San Pellegrino", a masterpiece by Simone Cantarini based on a drawing by Guido Reni.

    Every year, on May 1st, on the occasion of the Feast of the Saint, the traditional Feast of Cedars takes place, which tradition states were used by Pellegrino Laziosi for their alleged healing properties. Throughout the day, the square in front of the church and the surrounding streets come alive with stands selling these fragrant citrus fruits.

  • Second stop - San Mercuriale Abbey Forlì

    Taking Via Flavio Biondo and then Corso della Repubblica, in a few minutes you can walk to Piazza Saffi, where San Mercuriale Abbey, the historical and religious symbol of the city, stands.
    Built in the 12th century in honour of San Mercuriale, a martyr venerated as a patron saint, the abbey is an impressive testimony to Romanesque architecture.

    The bell tower adjacent to the Abbey, a majestic symbol of Forlì, can be visited during the holidays, offering visitors a unique opportunity to admire the city from above.

  • Third Stop - Sant'Andrea Abbey Dovadola

    The spiritual journey continues towards Dovadola. Leaving the centre of Forlì, we continue by car towards the south-west, taking the SP 56 (Via del Partigiano) and then the SS 67 (Via G. Mengozzi) for about 16 km.

    Dovadola is the birthplace of Benedetta Bianchi Porro, proclaimed blessed by Pope Francis in 2019 for her unwavering faith shown in life despite numerous sufferings.
    Benedetta, after overcoming serious illnesses during childhood, was affected by a degenerative disease that made her paralyzed, deaf and blind when she was still a teenager. However, her love for God and her gratitude remained intact.
    Today she is known for her miracles and has been named co-patron of Dovadola since 2022.

    In Sant'Andrea Abbey, located at the gates of the village (in via Benedetta Bianchi Porro), Benedetta's remains have been kept since 1969. Her tomb, preserved in the Baptistery Chapel, is adorned with a bronze effigy representing her, a work by the sculptor Angelo Biancini.
    For this reason, the Sant'Andrea Abbey has been a pilgrimage destination for many years and is visited by faithful from all over the world. 

  • Fourth stop - Abbey Church of Sant'Ellero Galeata

    From the Abbey of Sant'Andrea di Dovadola, take the SS 67 and proceed for 8 km to Rocca San Casciano. From here, follow SP 23 for about 11 km until you reach Strada San Zeno, where you turn right and continue on SP 24 for about 6 km until you reach Galeata.

    Once near the old town, along Via Papa Giovanni XXIII, there is the entrance to the evocative Cellette path. This route, flanked by fourteen sandstone aedicules that trace the stages of the Via Crucis, leads in about 40 minutes on foot to the abbey church of Sant'Ellero, a place of great political and spiritual influence over the centuries on the Bidente valley.

    The abbey of Sant'Ellero can also be reached by car via a paved road of about three kilometres that connects it with Galeata. Inside the crypt you can find the sarcophagus of the Saint, behind which a small cell opens where it is thought he retired to pray.
    The vaulted ceiling features a wide slit carved into the rock, where traditionally the faithful rest their heads to receive the Saint's blessing and prevent headaches.

    Sant'Ellero, patron saint of Galeata, is celebrated on 15th May. Throughout the month, every Sunday, the abbey and the tree-lined square in front of it are enlivened by religious celebrations and initiatives of various kinds.

  • Fifth stop - Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli Galeata

    Once back in Galeata, follow the SP 4 for about 2 km to Borgo Pianetto, where you can visit the picturesque church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

    The church was built in 1497 after a miraculous event: according to tradition, an image of Our Lady was seen weeping and dripping white drops similar to milk. Today, this image is preserved under a small temple in the centre of the nave, recalling the real place of the miracle and giving the church a very special interior space.
    Every year, on 8th September, the sacred image is carried in a procession through the village.

    The building, in Renaissance style, is decorated along the side walls with several altars that house remarkable paintings, including "The Visitation" by Giovanni Stradano, a Deposition attributed to the Vasari school, a fresco depicting the Annunciation and the Saints, and a canvas by Matteo Confortini depicting the Assumption of the Virgin.

    We recommend a visit to the adjacent "Mons. Domenico Mambrini" Civic Museum in Pianetto, which preserves precious sculptural finds from the Abbey of Sant'Ellero, including the evocative relief depicting the meeting between the Saint and Theodoric. A unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the history and art of the area. 

  • Sixth stop - Collina di Pondo Santa Sofia

    Among the places steeped in mystery and charm of the Forlì area there is undoubtedly the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Eyes, in Collina di Pondo, near Santa Sofia, 300 metres above sea level.

    From the town of Pianetto, take the SP4 again in the direction of Santa Sofia for about 5 km. Once you arrive in Santa Sofia, turn onto SP 77 and after 1.5 km turn left onto the Saviana Consortium Road, continuing for another 3 km.

    Hundreds of years ago, the place where the sanctuary now stands was crossed by a path frequented by pilgrims on their way to Rome. It is said that here Our Lady appeared to a young deaf and blind shepherdess, who miraculously recovered her sight and hearing.

    Even today, faith in the miraculous properties of the nearby spring, especially for eye and sight problems, attracts many faithful.
    The Sanctuary is externally simple and austere, while inside it is decorated with colourful and lavish paintings.

    In the centre you can find a representation of the Madonna with a crown on her head, an object of veneration for the many pilgrims who visit it. The enchanting view of the valley and the surrounding hills is a sight not to be missed.

  • Seventh stop - Blessed Virgin of Suasia Civitella di Romagna

    By taking the SP4 to return to Forlì, you can stop in Civitella di Romagna to visit the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Suasia.

    The Sanctuary, a significant expression of Tuscan Renaissance architecture, was built in the second half of the 1500s with the design of the Florentine architect Zanobio Lastricati, at the behest of the citizens in memory of the miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin to a little shepherd boy in 1556 near a cell located near the Suasia stream, in which the Marian image now venerated in the sanctuary was kept.

    The Madonna of Suasia is also considered the protector from earthquakes after the sanctuary was saved from the disastrous earthquake of 1661 that destroyed Civitella di Romagna entirely.

    In recent years the building has benefited from important restoration interventions, in particular after the fire of May 2014 that had damaged part of the seventeenth-century furnishings and frescoes (in 1780 another fire had burned the entire altar, except for the sacred image).

    The church preserves on the main altar the venerated image of the "Virgin and Child", a 1400 fresco by an unknown artist, belonging to the Tuscan school, and paintings by Bagnacavallo il Giovane and Girolamo Veronese, as well as an organ built by Feliciano Fedeli da Camerino in 1734, consisting of 350 reeds and 9 registers.

Last update 26/06/2024

Information offices

Piazza Aurelio Saffi, 8 - Forlì (FC)
+39 0543 712362 + 39 0543 712450 Opening: all year round
IAT Castrocaro Terme e Terra del Sole
- Castrocaro Terme e Terra del Sole (FC)
+ 39 0543 769631 + 39 3505193970 + 39 0543 769631 Opening: all year round
UIT Galeata/Pianetto
Via Borgo Pianetto, 18 - Galeata (FC)
+ 39 0543 981854 + 39 0543 975428
Associazione Pro Loco di Santa Sofia
Via Nefetti, 3/G - Santa Sofia (FC)
+39 376 0352590

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