The village of Garbagna is located on the Tortona hills to the right of the Scrivia stream and is famous not only for the variety of cherries La Bella di Garbagna, but also for the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Lago di Garbagna.
The building dates back to the 14th century and from Garbagna you can easily reach it with a short walk of about 2 km through the woods of the village. Leaving the village of Garbagna, you can continue in the direction of Borghetto Borbera, until you reach the last houses, after which you turn left into via Madonna del Lago and, going up for about a kilometre through the woods, you will reach the large meadow where the church stands.
The history of this sanctuary is linked to the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in 1341, of which there are traces in the Legé studio in the Castle of Sorli in Val Borbera (AL), which has always been linked to the peace between Guelphs and Ghibellines stipulated on 7th June 1341.
The legend narrates that the Blessed Virgin appeared to a shepherdess, who the whole village knew to be mute from birth, and told her:
"Go, return to Garbagna and announce to the people, that if here, where I am, they will build a church in my honor, I will take all these places under my protection, the hatreds, the fights, the wounds and the murders will cease; I will put the devil to flight and charity, security and peace will return among them."
The shepherdess, once back in the village radiant with joy, miraculously began to speak and announced the wishes of Our Lady.
The inhabitants of the area did not doubt for a second what happened and soon afterwards they erected a chapel in memory of this prodigious event.
Not only that, in chapter 77 of the statutes of Garbagna entitled De Festivitatibus celebrandis the abstinence from work on every Friday of the month of May in honor of Our Lady of the Lake was prescribed.
Even today the Sanctuary is still an important pole of attraction for the faithful who during the Marian month want to show their devotion to Our Lady, especially on the third Friday of May when, at the end of the Holy Mass, the statue of the Virgin is carried in procession to the square surrounding the Sanctuary.
If you want to visit this religious building, you will find it open every Friday of the month of May, on August 15th and the second Sunday of September and every time religious services are held at the shrine.