The Sanctuary of the Sacro Monte of Varese is one of the most important of the Sacri Monti, which are acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located at a height of 883 m a.s.l., the Sanctuary is the culmination of a route taken by the faithful up the slopes of Monte Velate.
The construction of the “Holy Way” was started in 1604 by the Capuchin friar Giovanni Battista Aguggiari, who decided to erect 14 chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary along a 2 kilometre-long cobbled path through a great wood of beech, chestnut and hazel.
The 14 chapels each have a portico of a different design, and are embellished with statues and frescoes by the major Lombard artists of the 17th century, including the local artist Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli, called “il Morazzone” after his native village; he was apprenticed in Rome in the studio of Cavalier D’Arpino, who at that time was the teacher of Caravaggio.
The chapels, like the Mysteries of the Rosary, are divided into groups of five by three fountains and three triumphal arches, and introduce pilgrims to the Mysteries that accompany them along the route. The artistic styles of the large number of frescoes in the chapels range from Mannerism to Baroque, maintaining a continuity and consistency with the sacred purpose and faith typical of a pilgrimage.
In 1983 Monsignor Pasquale Macchi asked Renato Guttuso to paint a contemporary version of the Flight into Egypt, and his acrylic painting can be seen on the outside wall of the chapel of the Nativity.
It is possible to access the Sacro Monte by funicular at certain times, however the service is not continuous.
Open from Monday to Friday 8.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00.
Sacro Monte di Varese
Tel. +39 0332 229223