• Religious Tourism
    • Unesco Sites
    • Art & Culture

Sacro Monte Varese

Timbre Siti Unesco Here you can stamp
your passport
SITI UNESCO #inLombardia
Where
Via Dell'Assunzione, 21, Varese
Contacts
+39 366 4774873
Official site
Infopoint
Infopoint Varese
Piazza Monte Grappa, 5, Varese
+39 0332281913

Art and nature, faith and sport.

The Sacro Monte di Varese has something for every tourist. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003, the 17th-century Holy Road and hamlet of Santa Maria del Monte are one of Varese and indeed Lombardy's must-visit destinations.

The site is easy to get to from Varese, with parking available in via Prima Cappella if you would like to start climbing from the very bottom. Alternatively, you can park in Piazzale Pogliaghi, behind the Santuario, at the top.

It can also be reached via public transport or the cable car.

The chapels

There are 14 chapels dotted along the Holy Road which leads to the top. All are dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary and constitute truly exceptional works of art.

Each one has its own architectural design, characterised by meticulous attention to detail, with sculptures and paintings inside. When you stop to admire the art, don't forget to tilt your head back and observe the magnificent frescoes on the ceilings. Sadly, the grates and glass installed to protect the art mean quality photographs cannot be taken – so we advise that you come and see it in person!

Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte

Once you have passed the final chapel, you'll find yourself before the ascent which leads to the Santuario and the hamlet of Santa Maria del Monte. Here, you are greeted by an enormous statue of Moses and a fantastic panoramic view, after which you can climb the steps and enter the Santuario. This represents the end of your journey through the Mysteries of the Rosary, depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven in the glory of the Angels and Saints; it is not very large, but packed with frescoes to admire.

We strongly advise that you also visit the adjacent crypt, which has been restored and is now open to the public, giving you the chance to admire the remains of the early-medieval church, decorated with stunning 14th-century frescoes. It costs to enter before 5:30 pm, but you get a fascinating guided tour included in the price. Entrance is free after 5:30 pm. 

The Museums

But that's not all. We've discovered two fantastic museums in Santa Maria del Monte that are certainly worth a visit. The Museo Baroffio is located by the entrance to the Santuario and holds Romanesque sculptures, illuminated manuscripts and paintings donated to the Santuario by Baron Giuseppe Baroffio. It was reopened in 2001 and extended to include a section on contemporary religious art.

Another must-visit is the Museo Pogliaghi, which is located in the house that the eclectic and brilliant Milanese artist chose for his home. From the outside, it seems like a regular early 20th-century house – perhaps a bit bizarre – but don't let that fool you. As soon as you step inside, you'll be surrounded by a myriad of sketches and sculptures by the artist, as well as a unique melting pot of Greek, Roman and Oriental artefacts. Half home, half artist's workshop, each room is different from the other and every door transports you into a new world. The highlight of the visit is the sitting room, which features the full-size plaster model Pogliaghi created while he was making the door for the Duomo in Milan – it's a spectacle that will leave you open mouthed!

The view and the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park

No visit to the Sacro Monte is complete without stopping to admire its stunning natural surroundings. Located on a hill behind Varese, on clear days visitors can admire a large part of the Po Valley and mountains of Lombardy, with the mountains of Bergamo and the Valtellina even visible in the distance.

It was Varese itself that really impressed us. The town appears almost swallowed up by the forest spilling down from the mountains – perhaps that's the reason why it is known as the "Garden City". Finally, for the more active among you, it's worth pointing out that from the summit of the Sacro Monte you can take several paths which set off through the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park. The terrain is largely accessible for all – perfect for a nice day in the great outdoors!

Text and photos from: 


Opening hours

Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte

8:00 - 12:00  and 14:00 - 18:00

Take me here: Sacro Monte Varese

Places

Sacri Monti in Piedmont and Lombardy

  • Unesco Sites
Sacri Monti in Piedmont and Lombardy
35 mt

Museo Baroffio e del Santuario del Sacro Monte sopra Varese | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Museo Baroffio e del Santuario del Sacro Monte sopra Varese | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
52 mt

Casa Museo Lodovico Pogliaghi | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Casa museo Pogliaghi
131 mt

Villa e Parco Toeplitz

  • Art & Culture
Villa e Parco Toeplitz
2.15 km

Villa Toeplitz and the Castiglioni Museum and Park | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Villa Toeplitz and the Castiglioni Museum and Park | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
2.39 km

From Varese to Campo dei Fiori

Segregated bike lanes, fishing villages and historic parks. On the roads of a memorable edition of the Road World Cycling Championships
  • Cycle Tourism
The Basilica of San Vittore in Varese
2.41 km

Birrificio Angelo Poretti | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Lifestyle
Birrificio Angelo Poretti | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
2.76 km

Golf Club Varese

Golf Club Varese offers incomparably beautiful views that embrace Monte Rosa, the Maggiore, Varese and Monate lakes.
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Golf Club Varese, Luvinate (VA)
3.2 km

Masnago Castle and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Masnago Castle and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
3.53 km

Villa Torelli Mylius | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Parks
Villa Torelli Mylius | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
4.47 km

Villa Panza and the Panza Art Collection | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Villa Panza and the Panza Art Collection | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
4.73 km

Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza

Villa Menafolio Litta Panza (VA) is a Mecca for art lovers and tourist who come to visit the contemporary art exhibitions it hosts.
  • Art & Culture
Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza
4.77 km

Ancient mills and rural structures | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Art & Culture
Ancient mills and rural structures | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
5.03 km

SHOPPING DISTRICT | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Lifestyle
SHOPPING DISTRICT | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
5.03 km

Waterfalls | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Active & Green
Cascate Varese
5.03 km

Lake Comabbio | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Lakes
Lake Comabbio | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
5.03 km

Lake Monate | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Lakes
Lake Monate | Varese Convention & Visitors Bureau
5.03 km

The Gardens of Palazzo Estense

  • Active & Green
The Gardens of Palazzo Estense
5.15 km

Palazzo Estense

  • Art & Culture
Palazzo Estense
5.18 km

Estense Gardens, Villa Mirabello and Civic Archaeological Museum

  • Art & Culture
Estense Gardens, Villa Mirabello and Civic Archaeological Museum
5.2 km

Activities

Convenzioni con ristoranti tipici e museo VILLA PANZA

  • Food & Wine
Convenzioni con ristoranti tipici e museo VILLA PANZA
2.01 km

Tickets for the "Long Light. Sean Scully at the Villa and Panza Collection"

  • Art & Culture
Tickets for the "Long Light. Sean Scully at the Villa and Panza Collection"
4.73 km

Sport and fun with family in a farm

  • Active & Green
Sport and fun with family in a farm
12.85 km

Where to sleep

HOTEL AL BORDUCAN

Varese
HOTEL AL BORDUCAN
80 mt

ALBERGO SACROMONTE

Varese
ALBERGO SACROMONTE
114 mt

ALBERGO COLONNE

Varese
ALBERGO COLONNE
172 mt

IL PARCO E GLI AFFRESCHI

Varese
IL PARCO E GLI AFFRESCHI
190 mt

VILLA DELLE CAMELIE

Varese
VILLA DELLE CAMELIE
979 mt

RUSTICHETTO B&B

Varese
RUSTICHETTO B&B
1.46 km

B&B VILLA ADRIANA

Varese
B&B VILLA ADRIANA
2.06 km

B&B VILLA GIULI

Varese
B&B VILLA GIULI
2.33 km

PETITHOME IN VARESE

Varese
PETITHOME IN VARESE
2.48 km

LOCANDA VECCHIA OSTERIA

Varese
LOCANDA VECCHIA OSTERIA
2.64 km

B&B LE ORTENSIE

Varese
B&B LE ORTENSIE
2.99 km

KIBILU' RESIDENZA PANORAMA

Varese
KIBILU' RESIDENZA PANORAMA
3.12 km

CASCINA CONTI - MELO

Induno Olona
CASCINA CONTI - MELO
3.21 km

CASCINE CONTI

Induno Olona
CASCINE CONTI
3.21 km

CASCINA CONTI - GELSO

Induno Olona
CASCINA CONTI - GELSO
3.21 km

CASCINA CONTI - MELOGRANO

Induno Olona
CASCINA CONTI - MELOGRANO
3.21 km

IL NONARO

Varese
IL NONARO
3.28 km

LOCANDA DEL BRINSC

Brinzio
LOCANDA DEL BRINSC
3.29 km

ANTICA TORRE DEI FUOCHI PARLANTI

Varese
ANTICA TORRE DEI FUOCHI PARLANTI
3.39 km

SHG VILLA PORRO PIRELLI

Induno Olona
SHG VILLA PORRO PIRELLI
3.46 km