A land steeped in history Boca, the wine of Popes. Indeed, chronicles of the past tell us of a curious anecdote relating to this wine, so good that it was even able to win the favour of the high prelates.
It was the year 1900 when the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto, accompanied by the Bishop of Novara, Monsignor Eduardo Pulciano, arrived to Boca on a pilgrimage visit. During their stay, they were offered by the young parish priest, Don Michele Merlino, some local wine, which they enjoyed so much that Monsignor Pulciano was heard to say: "Your Eminence, this is a wine fit for Cardinals", to which the Patriarch replied: "Your Excellency, forgive me, but I do not agree with you, this is not a wine fit for Cardinals, this is a wine fit for Popes". A playful reply that turned out to be prophetic, since on 4 August 1903 he was elected Pope, taking the name Pius X.
The Shrine of Boca was founded in connection with the violent death of a local married couple, a fact which is reported to have led to the erection, in the 17th century, of a frescoed wall bearing the image of the crucifix, which was later turned into a small chapel. The chapel was extended during the second half of the 18th century following a series of healing miracles.
The influx of pilgrims soon made it apparent that the building was too small and so, in 1819, a further extension project was undertaken, which was entrusted to Ghemme born twenty two year old young architect Alessandro Antonelli, who redesigned the entire project, to create a majestic neoclassical style building.
The construction process took a long time and the main structural works were eventually concluded at the beginning of the 1970s, with the completion of the frontal staircase.
In 1987, the Shrine became part of the Monte Fenera Natural Park that from 2015 November 17, together with the Val Grande was recognized as "Unesco Global Geopark”, during the 38th Unesco General Conference.