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.