A HERMITAGE OVERLOOKING THE WATER

We, 16 May 2018
A HERMITAGE  OVERLOOKING THE WATER
The old “Santa Caterina del Sasso” monastery, built high above Lake Maggiore, offers breathtaking views. The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso has been defined as “one of the places worth visiting at least once in a lifetime”: this ancient building erected on the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore,..

The old “Santa Caterina del Sasso” monastery, built high above Lake Maggiore, offers breathtaking views.

The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso has been defined as “one of the places worth visiting at least once in a lifetime”: this ancient building erected on the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, far removed from the din and bustle of everyday life, emanates a spiritual and romantic atmosphere.

You can easily imagine the pilgrims of bygone days heading for the convent either to be present at a religious service or to fulfill a vow, eager to share in the austere life led by the monks in fairytale surroundings. Perched atop a rocky spur which plunges into the water, the hermitage has an air of timelessness, a magical, majestic dwelling, isolated and composed, whose charm provokes strong emotions. When visitors behold this delightful panorama, they are immediately invaded by a feeling of beatification.

The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is traditionally believed to have been founded by Alberto Besozzi, a wealthy, local businessman who, having miraculously survived a deadly thunderstorm, pledged penitence for his sins and decided to make the most impervious shore of the lake his retreat where he would live the life of a hermit. Therefore, the chapel dedicated to Santa Caterina of Alessandria and the two churches in honour of San Nicola and Santa Maria Nova and building began as far back as the twelfth century. The attractiveness of the whole complex is intensified by the Renaissance cloister, a 15-metre high bell tower and a series of frescoes (attributed to one of Bernardino Luini's sons).

The charm of the monastery is further enhanced by a particular miracle: it is said that some enormous rocks tumbled onto the church at the beginning of the 1700s, but incredibly got stuck in the vault of a chapel and remained suspended there for over two centuries, with the result that no serious damage was caused.

The hermitage, which has also served as film settings, for example, “La stanza del vescovo” (The Bishop's Room), directed by Dino Risi, is one of the most interesting places on Lake Maggiore. The ideal option would be to go there by boat (it is only a fifteen minute crossing from Stresa) because the view on the journey over the lake is extraordinary: the building is camouflaged by the rock face and the surreal stillness immediately transmits a sensation of tranquility and restfulness.

If you wish, the hermitage may also be reached on foot by leaving your car in the overhead square and descending a scenic flight of 268 steps.

A modern, convenient lift excavated in the rock has been operating since 2010, which makes it much easier to undertake the route.

Therefore, dear La Darbia friends, I hope I have given you some helpful advice: it is worth going where lake and rock merge, where art and spirituality meet... to feel at peace with the world.

Share on Social Network
This website or its third party tools use cookies, which are necessary to its functioning and required to achieve the purposes illustrated in the cookie policy. If you want to know more or withdraw your consent to all or some of the cookies, please refer to the cookie policy. By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking a link or continuing to browse otherwise, you agree to the use of cookies..