Varese, Sacro Monte of Varese
Santa Maria del Monte (or Sacro Monte - 883 meters sea level) is one of the Prealpi rises, north of Varese. It was a municipality until 1927 before being absorbed by Varese. It is part of the Parco Regionale Campo dei Fiori. It dominates the entrance to the valleys leading towards the north and Switzerland. It offers a striking view on the mountain chain of Alpi Marittime, Cozie, Graie, Pennine, Lepontine and Retiche and Prealpi (massifs: Argentera, Monviso, Rocciamelone, Levanne, Gran Paradiso, Mount Rosa chain, Rheinquelhorn, Monte Disgrazia). The Po plain spreads to the south, overlooked by the northern Apennine mountains and by several lakes: Varese, Comabbio, Monate, Maggiore. Among the most important industrial towns you can see from here are: Varese, Tradate, Cassano Magnago, Gallarate, Busto Arsizio, Legnano, Saronno, Milano, Novara, Vercelli and the highest part of Torino.
Among the main historical, artistic and religious monuments or stately buildings you can see from here are: the Duomo in Milan with the Velasca Tower and the Pirelli skyscraper, the Cathedral of San Gaudenzio in Novara, the Basilica of Superga above Turin, the Sanctuary of Crea in Monferrato, the Certosa of Pavia. Santa Maria del Monte, property of UNESCO, is a place of Marian faith and worship. Its origins are evident in the Romanesque crypt under the high altar of the Sanctuary and in a parchment dated from
922. A document from the 17th century tells us about S. Ambrogio (who lived in the 6th century)
who, after defeating the Aryans by intercession of the Madonna, built a chapel in her honour on the mountain and placed an effigy of the Virgin Mary in it which is still visible today.
Both the Viscontis and the Sforzas, Dukes of Milan, used to come here to worship and to hunt too. In the 15th century a monastery was
founded on the mountain by blessed souls Caterina da Pallanza and Giuliana da Vergera and the Romite Ambrosiane Nuns still live here.