Linging to a rock face directly overhanging the lake, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the best sights of Lago Maggiore.
Tradition holds that the Hermitage was founded by Alberto Besozzi, a wealthy local merchant who, having survived a storm while crossing the lake, decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side, and conduct the life of a hermit.
Here the Blessed Alberto ordered the construction of a chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine of Egypt. An important event took place at the beginning of the 18th century, when five enormous “ballerini” (“dancing”) boulders crashed down onto the Church, but came to a halt in the vault of a chapel, without causing any serious damage, and remaining suspended there for almost two centuries, until 1910.
These “traballanti” (“unsteady”) rocks would appear to have given the name to the Hermitage, the full name of which is Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro (Santa Maria of the Dancing Rock). The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso can also be reached by the new elevator dug into the rock and built by Varese Province.
The elevator is particularly suitable for the elderly and disabled, allowing them to easily cover the 51 metres height difference between Cascine del Quiquio square and the actual entrance to the Hermitage. This engineering jewel can carry up to 12 people at a time.
It was made by digging a shaft 6 metres diameter, 51 metre deep into the rock, connected to a horizontal exit tunnel, 45 metres long, coming out onto a panoramic view of Lago Maggiore. Admission between 9.30 am – 7.30 pm