San Besso is not a typical sanctuary. Situated at an altitude of 2019 metres on the Piedmont side of the park, it can be reached only on foot after a hike of nearly two hours.
The worship of the saint, which attracts hundreds of the faithful up there every year on 10 August, can certainly be attributed to the close ties which have always united the people of Soana and Cogne Valleys.
According to tradition, the first inhabitants of the capital of Valle d'Aosta came from the Canavese area, and for a long time Cogne was only a borough, attached to the diocese of Ivrea. And still today, people from the Cogne and Canavese areas come together during festivals.
Nearly a thousand people, coming from all over the Canavese area and from Turin, come together on the last weekend of August every year to the Santuario di Prascondù, at the top of Ribordone valley, on the Canavese side of the park, for a big folk/religious festival. The construction of the Sanctuary began in 1600 in a "hidden field" where the Madonna had appeared to a young shepherd called
Giovannino Berardi. First there was a shrine, followed by the construction of a chapel dedicated to Madonna di Loreto. In 1654 an avalanche destroyed the chapel and a church was then built on the site, followed by extensions and refurbishments. Today it is possible to see the remains of the chapel, the church and an area for guest accommodation, once used to house pilgrims and now used for youth camps. In the area in front of the church there is another building, originally for guest quarters, in which a permanent exhibition about the religious culture of the valleys of Gran Paradiso National Park will soon be open.