The beautiful little Romanesque church of Saint Mary in Portonovo, in the province of Ancona, Marche, was very dear to Russian director Andrej Tarkovskij (1932-1986), the man behind cinema masterpieces such as “Andrej Rublëv”, “Stalker”, and “Nostalghia”.
The altar of this 11th-century pearl, built by the Benedictine monks starting in 1034, is decorated by a 1930s’ icon by Russian painter Gregorio Maltzeff.
When Tarkovskij arrived here from Loreto, he entered the small building – perched on a cliff that faces the Adriatic Sea – and was immediately surprised: “All of a sudden I saw an image of Our Lady of Vladimir on the altar… Incredible! To find an orthodox icon inside the church of a catholic country, just as I was regretting not having had the chance to pray in Loreto. Isn’t that a miracle?”
In his diaries, the Russian artist wrote many times about the icon kept in this wonderful corner of the Conero Riviera, remembering “the trepid sweetness that I felt, deep in my soul, as if I was impatient for some joyous event that was inevitably about to occur.”
A beautiful feeling we hope we can all share.