historical information

Viggiano is a characteristic Lucanian village that dominates, with its height, the green Agri Valley. It is known as the City of Mary, of the Harp and of Music: in fact the town is strongly linked to its roots, to the Marian cult and to the popular musical tradition. Viggiano is the most important religious center in Basilicata due to the presence of the centuries-old cult of the Black Madonna, Patron Saint and Queen of Basilicata. The history of the Madonna of Viggiano is very ancient and begins with a destroyed city: the statue of the Madonna was, in fact, venerated for years in the city of Grumentum until its destruction at the hands of the Saracens, an event that led the clergy to flee to hide the simulacrum on the top of the nearby Monte di Viggiano at 1723 m. Legend tells of some shepherds who, a few centuries later, attracted by strange flashes, went to the mountain where they discovered the statue, miraculously intact, which was then taken to Viggiano. Following some miracles, the tradition of celebrating the Madonna of Viggiano twice a year began: on the first Sunday in May, when the statue was transferred from the Sanctuary in the village to the summit of the Sacro Monte and on the first Sunday in September, when from the Mount the Madonna returns to the town. The pilgrimage route, 12 km long, is traditionally done on foot carrying the statue on your shoulder. The devotion of the faithful over the years has remained intact: banners carried by pilgrims, votive belts, sounds of bagpipes and barrel organs remain signs of a simple and sincere faith. Around 150 thousand pilgrims arrive in Viggiano every year on the first Sunday of September to greet the arrival of the Black Madonna, proof of a strong devotion on the part of the Lucanians and the inhabitants of the surrounding regions. However, Viggiano also shines for its rich musical tradition, a tradition that has its roots in the history of the town and in the ancient activity of wandering musicians who, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, exported Viggiano music to the world. Furthermore, local luthiers invented a particular type of portable harp, called "arpicedda", smaller in size than the classic one and, therefore, transportable. Even today, after centuries, Viggiano's connection with music is unchanged: in fact, children, from an early age, learn to play the harp thanks to the presence of the Viggianese harp school.

tourist route

Between the two squares: we know the history of the village of Viggiano

The route welcomes the tourist in the suggestive Piazza Regina delle Genti Lucane (stage 1), with an enchanting panorama full of symbols that recall the salient aspects of the history of the local community. A visit to the Minor Pontifical Basilica (stage 2), also called Santa Maria del Deposito, winter home of the wooden statue of the Black Madonna, Patroness of Basilicata, is a must. Continuing on Via Roma the route continues with a visit to the Teatro Comunale “F. Miggiano” (stage 3) a small architectural jewel set in the historic center and guardian of a history waiting to be discovered. The walk in the upper part of the village puts the tourist in contact with the alleys full of tales and stories about the local traditions until arriving at the remains of the ancient Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo (stage 4) not far from the suggestive ruins of the Medieval Castle (stage 5) at 1023 m. above sea level from where you can enjoy the suggestive view of the entire valley. We return to the center in Piazza Plebiscito to continue the tour with the Church of San Sebastiano (stage 6) and with a visit to the permanent exhibition on the Black Madonna (stage 7), a story in images of one of the Marian pilgrimages most deeply felt by the populations of southern Italy. It will be unforgettable to be able to see up close the largest bronze statue in Basilicata, the Monument to the Bearers (stage 8) and then enter the marvelous Piazza San Giovanni (stage 9) where at certain times of the year you can admire the aquatic show of the Fountain of Music and where an important piece of the town's history is expressed in the tribute to the emigrant engraved on the 22 bronze panels of the Viggianese Column.  

DEPARTURE LOCATION: Piazza Regina delle Genti Lucane, 85059 Viggiano PZ 

ARRIVAL LOCATION: Piazza San Giovanni XXIII, 85059 Viggiano PZ 

LENGTH: approximately 1 km 

DIFFICULTY: medium-low 

TRAVEL TIME: approximately 4 hours (including stops)


Ancient sheep track Black Madonna


This ancient sheep track is traveled by pilgrims during the processions to the Sacro Monte. It begins with a vehicular stretch that starts from the banks of the Alli Torrent, crosses the woods and reaches Piana Bonocore, where it crosses the Fontana dei Pastori path. It is possible to park nearby to continue with the most characteristic stretch of the route that reaches the Montagna Grande. To go up to the mountain, the path crosses a forest until it opens onto the valley, showing a breathtaking view of the splendid Agri River valley.


Path with the guides of the CEA (Environmental and Sustainability Education Center)


LENGTH 7.5 km

DIFFICULTY: E (medium)


The Sacred Icon of the Black Madonna is transported on the first Sunday of May from the town to the summit, where in the 16th century. the Sanctuary was built, bringing her back to the town on the first Sunday of September. The tradition is repeated annually, with accents of high Marian spirituality, in a particularly evocative setting and typical Lucanian folklore. The event reached such importance that it allowed the municipal administration to proclaim Viggiano as the "City of Mary" in 1996. The center is full of monumental religious complexes of great historical and artistic importance. In the Sant'Angelo area, at the entrance to the town, there is the Church of Sant'Antonio, from 1542, annexed to the Convent of Santa Maria del Gesù, which houses a wooden choir and a painting on canvas by Francesco Guma da Pignola , from 1600. Near Piazza Plebiscito there is the Church of San Sebastiano, from the 17th century. which houses a polyptych from the 1600s and paintings attributed to Carlo Selitto. On Corso Vittorio Emanuele the Church of San Rocco, from the 19th century, has two small bell towers on the façade. Also worth visiting is the Church of San Benedetto, from the 16th century, and in the Santa Barbara area the ruins of the ancient Basilian hermitage of Santa Maria La Preta, on the Casale stream. The Mother Church of Santa Maria del Monte (or del Deposito), built in 1700, is embellished with stuccos, frescoes, marble altars, wooden sculptures and paintings from the Neapolitan school. In 1956 it was elevated by Pope Paul VI to the "Minor Pontifical Basilica", and on the occasion of the Jubilee of 2000 it was equipped with an imposing bronze door with panels, depicting the history of Viggiano and its brown Virgin. Inside, in fact, the icon of the Immaculate Conception, crowned by Bishop Tiberius in 1892, is kept from September to May. The ceremony was repeated in 1991 by the S.S. Pope John Paul II, who reconfirmed the Madonna of Viggiano as "Queen and Mother of the Lucanian people", as well as "Protector of Basilicata". Finally, it is worth mentioning, at the top of the town, three towers and parts of the walls of the Angevin Castle and, near the sports field, the nineteenth-century structure of Villa of the Marquis Sanfelice.

nature trails

The propensity for musicality of the people of Viggiano has deep roots that lead back to a nature rich in woods, mountains and springs, waterways and paths. Today it is possible to relive the same emotions of the past with excursions, horseback riding and walks along the Alli and Casale streams. Numerous routes allow climbing lovers, alone or accompanied by expert instructors from the Sports Climbing Association, to delve into a fairy-tale succession of rocky spiers and equipped sheer walls. Don't miss the climb to the Sacro Monte at mt. 1725 above sea level, home to the Sanctuary dedicated to the Madonna. From the summit you can admire a suggestive panorama. Viggiano is one of the most equipped and hospitable winter tourism resorts in the central south, among the largest complexes in Basilicata. The Montagna Grande ski resort in Viggiano has various slopes, including cross-country ones, a night lighting system, paths to follow on foot or with romantic sleds. For the more curious it will be surprising to discover the existence of the Museum on the Apennine wolf.


The origins of the Viggiano Sanctuary remain shrouded in mystery. The most accredited hypothesis dates it back to the 11th century and connects its birth to the fall of Grumentum, attacked on several occasions by the Saracens since the 9th century and definitively razed to the ground around 1050. The simulacrum of the Virgin, in fact, would have been initially kept in the cathedral of Grumentum and then transferred and hidden on the summit of Monte di Viggiano to prevent it from being destroyed by the Saracen invaders. Legend tells how some shepherds from the valley below, attracted by strange luminous phenomena observed on the top of the mountain, found the sacred simulacrum miraculously intact, immediately transported to Viggiano and placed in the chapel of Santa Maria Fuori le Mura, which since then was called of the Deposit and which subsequently became the urban headquarters of the Sanctuary, in the center of the town. The heart of the Sanctuary is the precious wooden sculpture that it houses, an artistic artefact in Byzantine style of rare beauty, which the centuries-old veneration of the Lucanian people has enriched with value and meaning, to the point of making it the emblem of its troubled history and its faith . The Madonna is portrayed sitting on a throne, with the blessing child Jesus on her knees. Both the faces of the Mother and that of the Son are olive in color while the entire sculpture is covered in pure gold. Starting from that distant and mysterious day of the discovery of the sacred image, devotion to the Beautiful Lady of the Mountain has continued to grow, maturing those forms of popular religiosity and authentic Marian piety which, even today, are the undisputed heritage of the Lucanian people. The devotion and affection of the faithful were not, however, the only note of privilege of the Sanctuary of Viggiano. Alongside them, in fact, there have been many official recognitions from ecclesiastical authorities over the centuries. On 4 September 1892 Monsignor Tiberio Durante, Bishop of Marsico and Potenza, by decree of Pope Leo XIII and the Chapter of San Pietro, obtained and carried out the coronation of the venerated image, in front of an impressive crowd, who had come to Viggiano on foot from every corner of the region. At the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, on 11 December 1965 Pope Paul VI elevated the Sanctuary of Viggiano to the dignity of Pontifical Basilica, proclaiming the Madonna del Sacro Monte Patroness and Queen of the Lucanian people. No less glorious are some pages of more recent history with the visit in 1991 of Pope John Paul II and the recognition for Viggiano of the prestigious title of "City of Mary" which took place on 8 December 1995. The history of the Regional Sanctuary of Viggiano is made up of glorious moments, but above all of simple testimonies from ordinary people, accustomed to fatigue and pain, but at the same time endowed with a generous and strong faith.


The most important religious holidays are linked to the figure of the Black Madonna. On the first Sunday of May the Statue is transported in procession by faithful pilgrims to the Sanctuary on the summit of Montagna Grande, the place where, according to legend, the simulacrum was found. On the first Sunday of September the Black Madonna returns to Viggiano welcomed by thousands of pilgrims from all over Southern Italy and, after the celebration of the Holy Mass in Piazza San Giovanni XXIII, the Statue returns to the Pontifical Basilica. Other notable events are: International Arpa Viggianese Exhibition (first week of August) 

International Folklore Festival (10 August) Viggiano Jazz (11 and 12 August) 

The Big Mountain meets the sounds of Southern Italy (14 and 15 August) 

Wines under the stars (20 and 21 August) Homage to Leonardo De Lorenzo (third week of August) 

Ferricello Festival (30 August) 

Viggiano Winter jazz (December and January) Bagpipe and Ciaramella Festival (28 December)


The undisputed protagonist of the Viggiano tables is the ferricello, which boasts very ancient origins, the result of a centuries-old tradition handed down orally from mother to daughter. Currently it is still the main dish of traditional lunches, often linked to moments of joy and cheerfulness and to the memory of grandmothers who patiently prepared the dough and expertly forged its shape. Viggianese ferricello is a De.C.O and P.A.T. brand product. To accompany the traditional ferricelli, a glass of Terre dell'Alta Val d'Agri wine, a local product with the D.O.C. brand, is a must. Also to delight the palate are the tasty Patatelle Viggianesi, potato balls and long-matured Pecorino cheese fried and immersed in chicken broth. To close the meals, the traditional dessert: the "Pizzatte con il naspro", sponge cake domes filled with cream and glazed.


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