Its position on the lake is extraordinary and particularly spectacular, at the foot of a formidable rock cliff on Lake Maggiore. You can reach it descending 268 steps.
According to legend the hermitage was founded around 1170 by Alberto Besozzi, a local business man, to thank Santa Catterina d'Alessandria after that he survived a shipwreck while crossing the Lake Maggiore during a storm. He decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side and to conduct the life of a heremit .
Here Alberto ordered the construction od the Chapel dedicated to Santa Caterina of Alessandria and which is now visible in the lower part of the Church.
You can see the cave where Alberto lived in seclusion for 35 years.
The structure of the current Church is the fusion of four Chapels, originally built separately in different periods: the Chapel of Santa Caterina of Alessandria, the Chapel of the Rocks, the Chapel of Santa Maria and the Chapel of San Nicola.
Inside the Church you can also see the urn holding the remains of Alberto Besozzi. It's only a wooden copy of the skeleton, while the bones are hidden in the cashion.
The first historical mentions however date back to 1230 when a community of Dominicans was installed there, then the Romiti Ambrosiani monks taking over in the 14th century and the Carmelites in 1660. After a long period of crisis it was purchased in 1970 by the Province of Varese which took care of its restoration. After having hosted a community of Dominicans from 1986 to 1996, the hermitage is now maneged by the Benedectine Oblates with their classic program "Ora et Labora" (in English: Pray and Work).
The position of Hermitage of Santa Caterina (it lies in Leggiuno, near Laveno) is extraordinary and particularly spectacular, at the foot of a formidable rock cliff. The hermitage cannot be reach by tourists by car or bike, only on foot by descending 268 steps, or by boat.
You can see a well-preserved wooden press. It was used to press grapes and olives in order to make wine, liqueurs and oil.
Learn more at: Santa Caterina del Sasso
Other tourist attractions around Lake Maggiore
To help you make the most of your stay on Lake Maggiore we have put together a guide, packed full of information about all the
tourist attractions to see during your holiday.
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