Visit to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca

This World Heritage site is a must-see on any visit to Bologna. Boasting beauty and panoramic views, it is a stunning site steeped in history.

Getting there

There are three ways to reach the Sanctuary and Basilica of San Luca.

The loveliest and most ‘traditional’ means of arriving is with your feet! As the Basilica is joined to the city below by the longest continuous portico in the world, you can reach San Luca by walk below the portico. The portico begins at Porta Saragozza and ends right at the Basilica itself. It is a beautiful experience, though not advisable on hot days!

There is a shuttle train which takes visitors up to San Luca from Piazza Maggiore, in the middle of the city. It is possible to purchase a both return and one-way tickets, so if you want to follow the portico but are concerned about the distance or fatigue, a good option is to take the the train up to the Sanctuary and then walk down. A round trip on the San Luca train costs €10.

Alternatively, if you have a car, you can drive up the Sanctuary yourself.

When you are there

When you arrive, you are able to freely wander about the grounds and the outside of the Basilica.

These offer some nice views, but the best views are accessible only upon purchasing a ticket to enter the Basilica. Entry costs a few Euros, and it is money well spent.

The Basilica itself is lovely inside. A useful tip: visitors are actually enter the space behind the altar, which is rarely allowed in churches, at least in Italy. This allows visitors to enjoy a very special view of the interior of the Basilica, and offers a very unique perspective of the sacred space.

While you are there, do not forget to climb up to the roof of the Basilica. This is arguably the best part of the San Luca experience. The entrance to the terrace is a small door (take care not to miss it!), located on your right as you enter the Basilica.

From the roof, you will be able to see Bologna sprawled out below you on one side, and lush green mountains on the other. Any way you look, it is a stunning view.

You can find more information about the history of the Sanctuary and visitors notes on the Bologna Welcome Sanctuary of San Luca page.

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