TOURISM - An International Interdisciplinary Journal

Volume 59 / 2011 / Number 3 ISSN 1332-7461 

Raffaella AFFERNI, Carla FERRARIO, Stefania MANGANO

A place of emotions: The sacred mount of Varallo

Raffaella Afferni, Carla Ferrario and Stefania Mangano

Religious geography can be explored from a number of different perspectives. The aim of this paper is to examine the geographical aspects of faith experiences in a specific holy site, the Sacred Mount of Varallo. This case study could be also relevant in the context of debates on the authenticity of the experience, pilgrimage and religious tourism, communitas and contestation, unity and diversity. In particular, the findings of our research indicate the existence of different types of visitors of the holy site, whose main motivations vary between sacred and secular and, at the same time, who are strictly interrelated for their affection for, or spiritual connection to, the Sacred Mount. To understand these different types of visitors, the reasons people set out on their journey to this destination, and how they appreciate what they learn, see and experience along the way, we decided to carry out a survey and compare the results to one undertaken in 1994. The comparison primarily regarded the information of the personal data file and the relationship between visitors, resources and territory, and allowed us to observe what and how some visitors’ attitudes have changed over time.