The Santa Caterina Hermitage

The walls that today form the Hermitage of Santa Caterina date back to 1624, but it is evident that some parts are made of stones that have been remodeled for at least 1500 years and before the arrival of the first hermit. The current building was in fact erected over a small, older and smaller temple, whose apse was oriented towards the mountain. According to tradition, the hermitage was enlarged and embellished following an apparition of Saint Catherine who, beautiful and white-dressed, appeared on a spring afternoon to a shepherd boy asking to celebrate this vision every Easter Monday. In fact, every year, on Easter Monday, the Ries go to the Hermitage to celebrate the feast of the traditional sweet door whose origins seem to date back to a pagan ritual linked to spring and fertility. Following the miraculous events and the renovation of the structure, the hermitage became a place of pilgrimage for the whole of Elba. Here the sailors used to bring their ex-votos to thank the Saint for the dangers escaped at sea. There was also the custom of seamen who managed to pay homage to the church when they left the coast, greeting it with hat in hand and the flag at the peak.

Curiosity: Many legends are connected to the beautiful image of the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine, commissioned and donated by the Appiani family and which once adorned the altar of the church. It is said that the client believed that the painter had painted the Saint with a too long neck, but he refused to retouch the painting. Only the fervent prayers of an entire night were able to restore the neck to normal proportions. The last custodian lived at the sanctuary until 1858, since then the church was completely abandoned and fell into ruin, also undergoing three sensational thefts: the large painting of Santa Caterina, the coat of arms and a very strange marble mask used for offerings. From the brilliant intuition of the German photographer and writer Hans Georg Berger, who rediscovered this place more than thirty years ago in a state of total abandonment, today the Hermitage of Santa Caterina is once again a crossroads of knowledge and thoughts: an active center for artistic and scientific creation, often home to art and photography exhibitions. Since the 1990s, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina has been home to the vegetable garden and a catalog field, created to promote research and initiatives on the natural and cultivated flora of the Island of Elba and the Tuscan islands in order to protect their diversity. and highlight its botanical uses.

Consorzio Servizi Albergatori soc. cooperativa Progetto “ PromoElba2019” co-finanziato dal POR FESR Toscana 2014-2020