The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso: An Ancient Gem on the Lake

Santa Caterina del Sasso
The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, Leggiuno, Varese.

Leaving Milan and heading towards Lago Maggiore, near Angera in the province of Varese, there is a historical gem and place of breathtaking beauty hidden among the rocks on the lake shore: the hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso.

Built between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th, the complex is a magnificent example of late-Gothic Lombard architecture. From the portico, which is decorated with a macabre dance, visitors are treated to an unforgettable view of the lake.

The ground floor of the little monastery hosts the kitchens and refectory (corresponding to the small cells and a common area on the upper floor), the walls of which are decorated with lattice-like ornamentation and bricks arranged in a fish bone pattern. A small frescoed church completes the hermitage complex, which is run by Benedictine monks.

To get to the hermitage, you can take an elevator built into the rock or, for a more picturesque arrival, from a small pier on the lake. The perfect harmony and silence that envelop this place make the trip to Leggiuno utterly worthwhile.

Santa Caterina del Sasso
The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, north view, Leggiuno, Varese.

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LakesLombardyReligious architecture