- Religious Tourism
The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso
Via Santa Caterina, 13, Leggiuno, Varese
Piazzale Europa, 1
+39 0332 66 72 23
The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso stands on a cliff overlooking Lake Maggiore, in Leggiuno, a virtual balcony facing the lake.
The Hermitage can be reached from the square above, from where, having parked in one of the numerous parking spaces, visitors can descend the panoramic, 268-step staircase; or, if they have arrived by boat, they climb approximately 80 steps up from the lake. Visitors can also reach the Hermitage easily by taking the elevator, the entrance to which is near the car park.
Regardless of how you get there, it's worth it to visit one of Lake Maggiore's most fascinating historical sites.
The Monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso was founded in the 13th and 14th century by a local merchant, Alberto Besozzi, who after asking Santa Caterina for help during a violent storm, found himself on a rock hanging over the water. In 1195 he built a small church as a sign of thanks for the grace received from the Saint. In 14th century a community of Augustinian monks came to live in the hermitage, followed by the Ambrosian Hermits in 1379 and by the Carmelites in 1649.
After being managed by these various monastic orders, the monastery is currently governed by the Benedictine Oblates.
The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso consists of three buildings: the southern convent, the convent and the church. As they approach the hermitage visitors are greeted by a long corridor bordered by round arches with granite columns that run along the southern convent.
They will then enter chapter room where they can admire the beautiful frescoes, brought to light by expert restorers. The visit continues in the small convent, situated in front of the courtyard of the press and embellished with an arcade of pointed arches. The dining hall is on the ground floor and the monks' chambers are on the first floor.
Finally, the inner courtyard opens onto the small church flanked by the 14th-century bell tower. Inside, the altar is surrounded by murals of great artistic value.
Thanks to its unique location, beautiful surroundings and unique view of Lake Maggiore, the Monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso appears to have been built as a place for rediscovering inner peace and to experience tranquillity.
Every day: 9.00am - 12.00pm and 2.00pm - 5.00pm
From April to October
Every day: 9.00am - 12.00pm and 2.00pm - 6.00pm
From November to February
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 9.00am - 12.00pm and 2.00pm - 5.00pm
Open every day from December 23rd to January 6th