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Madonnina near Mercatale

[image ALT: A small brick shrine, about 50 cm on a side and about 2½ meters tall, consisting of a niche on a rectangular base; the niche contains a statue of the Virgin Mary, and the shrine is crowned by a metal cross adding another 50 cm in height to it. It is a roadside shrine, or madonnina, not far from Mercatale, Tuscany (central Italy).]

Not all days are sunny in Tuscany. This attractively-proportioned edicola or wayside shrine, about 6 km ENE of Mercatale, marks a crossroads on the SS146 from Tuoro to Umbertide, a road that for several miles grazes a remotish section of the Umbrian border: the buildings on the hill are already in Umbria — the somewhat dismal hamlet of Reschio, with remains of an 11c castle and modernized outbuildings but not so much as a grocery store when I walked there in 2004, up the narrow gravel lane, a few minutes after taking this picture.

The edicola itself belongs to the common pillar type seen thruout central Italy (see for example Borgo Trevi, dated 1902); the niche provides some protection against the weather, as well as a place for flowers or even the votive candle we see here. The first story of these pillar shrines often bears a plaque with an inscription, but here there seems never to have been any; the slight recess for it is used today to post the occasional funeral notice. If my back were to the wall, I'd date the edicola to the second half of the 19c, but no date between the 16c and about 1920 would surprise me: and there's no telling what earlier version of it might have stood here for centuries.

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Page updated: 29 Mar 14