Path 1. The Walk of the breastfeeding Madonnas

Walk in the streets of Cantù to discover the traces of the ancient and deeply felt cult of the breastfeeding Madonna, the Madonna who feeds her Child with milk from her breast.

A tender and familiar image, close to everyday joys and sufferings, but also a strong mediator towards God, the little boy she holds in her arms. The walk starts from the hill of Galliano, sacred area since remote times, where the great devotion for the image of the breastfeeding Madonna succeeded, at least in part, to preserve the wonderful Basilica of San Vincenzo as a place of worship, even in the centuries when it had been abandoned.

A great devotion surrounds the image of the “Madonna bella” [Beautiful Madonna] too, outside the middle-age gate of Campo Rotondo, around which was built the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of Miracles, still dear to the hearts of the people of Cantù and beyond, who watches over the city of the living and that of the dead.

The walk then ascends the other hill of the city, San Paolo, heart of the antique dwelling of Canturium, where, in the 16th and 18th century, but also in the last, generations of little boys of Cantù received the baptism, under the sweet regard of another ancient breastfeeding Madonna, painted on the city walls, and later enclosed in an oratory.

At last, just outside the centre, on the ancient street to Como, where in 1252 the inquisitor Pietro da Verona walked towards his martyrdom in Seveso, that same Virgin Mary welcomed pilgrims and people in need, in the hospital of Sant’Antonio.

Another image of the breastfeeding Madonna in Cantù, outside this walk, since it is in a peripheral area of the city, is the beautiful fresco placed in the 20th century church in the location of Fecchio, after having being ripped from the facade of the house of the chaplain of the Monastery of S.Maria (see path 2).

It has been noted that these devotional images were usually placed along the streets that entered the city, or just close to the gates, as to protect the city and its inhabitants.

We like to think that this protection will be with us as we walk on this path.

Path details

Point of departure Cantù, Basilica of S. Vincenzo (St. Vincent) of Galliano (via San Vincenzo)

Point of arrival Cantù, Church of S. Antonio (St. Antony) (via Daverio)

Path type urban route

Environment urban area

Total length approx. 3 km

Travel time on foot approx.1 hour (excluding visits)

Difficulty tourist

Access see single descriptions

Other recommended means of transport bike

Overlapping / Intersection with other paths

This path overlaps in part with: Cantù Path 2 – Stage 2

This path largely overlaps, backwards, with the Cammino di San Pietro – Antica Via Canturina


 Click here to download information about this path


Chiara Tettamanti, Silvia Fasana

We would like to thank Giancarlo Montorfano


Giorgio Costanzo

Further information on the path

Rise 60 m

Maximun height: 370 m

Paving: asphalt, porphyry cubes, stone tiles, cobbles

Public transport to the point of departure: ASF bus service (see bus company website)

Public transport from the point of arrival: ASF bus service (see bus company website)

Parking at the point of departure: yes

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