The Sanctuary of Madonna della Riva in Angera is on the town’s lakeside promenade, on the site where there has been a votive fresco depicting a Madonna with Child since the 15th century. The Austrian harbour is in front of the sanctuary, where the view encompasses the southern area of the lake: the promenade along the Allea goes right past the entrance to the little church, whose outside is obviously incomplete.
27 June 1657, the fresco of the Madonna (dating back to 1443) on the side wall of a home appeared to sweat blood: a woman who had stopped to pray before the effigy realised this and shouted it was a miracle. The parish priest collected the drops of blood on a linen cloth and the image was declared venerable following an investigation by the diocese. Authorisation was also provided to build a sanctuary in memory of the miracle.
The project for the sanctuary was grandiose; its façade was to extend over the lake and access was to be where the harbour is today, precisely in front of Arona. However, only the apse of the building in the project was built, due in part to economic problems and to difficulties. A small bell tower was added during the 1700’s and in 1943, a new façade replaced the temporary one which by then had become unsafe. An elegant altar in the middle has the image (detached from the wall and transferred to canvas) of the Madonna with Child, which is very dear to locals. Several ex-votos are inside the sanctuary as proof of the grace received form the Virgin Mary.
Standing out among the canvases is the one attributed to Isidoro Bianchi from Campione: this majestic painting depicts the Visit of Saint Charles to the Three Valleys and there are also two smaller paintings, the Ascension and the Assumption of the Madonna.
Every year, the anniversary is celebrated of the miracle that took place on 27 June 1657 - the day the image sweat blood. This is followed, on the first Sunday in July, by the Festa del Santuario (Festival of the Sanctuary) with a traditional procession of illuminated boats. The funfair also arrives on the promenade at the same time, for the joy of all children.