Santa Caterina del Sasso

The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is a monastery located in the municipality of Leggiuno, in the province of Varese. It lies on a rocky ledge on the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore.

It can only be reached on foot. Descend through a long stone staircase from the nearby car park. In 2010, it was also equipped with an elevator that has been carved into the rock, so that the Hermitage is easier to achieve for everyone. The construction of the monastery dates back to the fourteenth century, although the most recent paintings are arranged in the nineteenth century. The complex consists of three buildings: the southern monastery, the monastery and church. In 1914 it was declared a national monument. The Hermitage of Santa Caterina is also seen, although it is not mentioned by name in the film The Bishop's Room 1977 directed by Dino Risi and also in the drama of 1989 "The Betrothed Nocita Savior". In this case the location is chosen for the "magic" of the place, but the buildings and history Manzoni have no relation with the theme of the film.

The story

According to tradition, the monastery was founded by the Blessed Alberto Besozzi of Arolo. A former merchant and usurer who was rescued after a shipwreck, and as a thank vowed to Saint Catherine and then lived for the rest of his life in a cave in prayer near the Hermitage.

The body of the saint is still kept in the church. In 1670 the Hermitage was given to the Carmelite monastery in Mantua, but however was suppressed in 1770.

In 1970 the monastery was purchased by the province of Varese, where it was extensively renovated under their supervision.


The facade is formed by a portico with four arches. The tower on the left, facing the lake, bears a clock dating back to 1300. The belfry is open with a lancet window. In the veranda are well-preserved remains of frescoes attributed to one of the sons of Bernardino Luini. The current church is made up of five aisle. In four aisle are representations of shrines that match representations elsewhere. In the fifth aisle is a show dedicated to the Sanctuary of the Holy Besozzi.