Historical sources

According to the tradition, the church was founded on December 8th 1374 by the nobleman Bernardo Vitalba, who had his own castle on the hill. The church belonged to the Vitalbas for centuries and was moved to the Vestry of Nembro’s parish in 1847. All along the mule track going up to the church, you can find the niches dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, which were first mentioned in 1738 but were possibly built during the mid-XVII century.

The construction works

Little has been left of the castle: only the ruins of the old moat and a part of the internal wall, located next to the stairway leading to the choir. It probably consisted of a single space, whose entrance was where the left chapel currently is, while the altar was in front of it. The first enlargement took place in the XVI Century, the last one in the early XX century. The façade was built during the same period as well, and it features a wide portico with three pointed arches.  In 2004 the renovation of the architecture complex around the church was completed.

The interiors

The one-nave church is divided into three aisles by two pointed arches. Walls have been frescoed by the Nembro-based artist Giovanni Rodigari in 1913. The second aisle has also two small chapels, built in 1912. On the left chapel’s pillars there are two frescoes representing the Virgin with Child, one dating back to the year 1512. Moreover, there was also a Pity traditionally ascribed to Giovan Battista Moroni: it was recently stolen. The third aisle hosts the presbytery with the altar placed inside a wide arch. 

Painted on the wall, on the left and on the right respectively, you can admire the figures of Saint Donato and Saint Francis; above them, a Virgin of the Annunciation and Announcing Angel, attributed to Francesco Cavagna (1580 ca.-1630). The same artist also painted the Visitation on the wall on the left of the small niche where the altar is. In front of it, you can see the Escape to Egypt by Francesco Muzio (XVII Century). On the main alter there is a Pity called Our Lady of Sorrows, painted by a Bergamo-based unknown artist in 1533. Mary, whose face is young and pained, looks at the spectator and invites him to contemplate his dead Son lying on her knees. Right under that, a young girl represents a sorrowful Mary Magdalene. On each side of the apse, plaster and stucco statues portray the prophets Zachary and Isaiah: they were sculpted in 1682 by the Swiss artists Salas. In the rooms neighbouring the Sacristy you can find many paintings by unknown artists dating back to the XVII and XVIII Centuries, as well as some more recent ones (along with numerous ex voto) showing the faith and devotion of Nembro’s people towards the Shrine.

Among them, there is also a Nativity Scene by Enea Salmeggia aka Talpino, currently under renovation. In ancient times, it was located above the main altar.

The Pity

The fresco called “Our Lady of Sorrows” used to be located inside a chapel on the left wall, which was removed during the refurbishment in 1912. The devotion to this fresco was so intense that Monsignor Bilabini, who served as archpriest during that period, decided to take it off and to put it above the main altar. In 1920, with a solemn ceremony, the figures of the Virgin and Jesus were enriched by a golden crown.

The votive picture underwent several changes: originally, it was called Immaculate Mary of Grace, later Mother Mary of Mercy, and finally Pity or Our Lady of Sorrows. Also the church changed its name: Our Lady of Grace at first and Virgin of the Snow in the XVIII Century. 

Reference stop:
Nembro Centro

Distance: 1,7 KM
Extimated time:
  • 15 min.
  • 30 min.
How to reach Santuario della Madonna dello Zuccarello

From the tram stop, go toward the old town, take via Lonzo and continue following the directions. There is only a pedestrian route (mule track) to get to the shrine, or a very steep uphill street.

The street can be reached by bike in 15 minutes and by foot in 30 minutes.

Points of Interest