The Sacro Monte of Varese is a devotional complex consisting of 14 Chapels, the Sanctuary and the Crypt. According to an ancient legend, on the mountain above Varese (now Sacro Monte Varese), Saint Ambrose defeated in the IV century A.D. the last followers of the Arian heresy and had an altar and a wooden statue representing the Black Madonna made. In 1452, Blessed Caterina Moriggi of Pallanza withdrew there in meditation and was soon imitated by other nuns. To them we owe the foundation of the Monastery in 1476. Next to the first chapel of the Sacro Monte of Varese there is the Monsignor Macchi exhibition center, a welcoming place for visitors and pilgrims. Visitors can walk the sacred way about 2 km long, at the end of which you enter the small village of Santa Maria del Monte.
It is part of the Unesco Heritage since 2003
Along the uphill route, which takes about 30 minutes to travel, you will encounter the 14 devotional chapels, one for each mystery of the rosary. The fifteenth chapel is inside the Sanctuary. Externally, the chapels of the Sacro Monte of Varese look like many small baroque buildings, different from each other. Inside, there are about 300 sacred representations made of painted statues and frescoes. From Santa Maria del Monte you can reach the ancient covered streets and you can visit the Baroffio Museum and the Pogliaghi House Museum, up to the Sanctuary and the Monastery of the Romite Ambrosiane. Reaching the top of the mountain by car or bus, take Via del Ceppo that leads to the elevators for Piazzetta Paolo VI, from which you can access the Sanctuary. The Baroffio is the oldest museum in Varese that can still be visited. It houses the historical-artistic collection of Santa Maria del Monte, together with the collection of paintings by Giuseppe Baroffio Dall'Aglio and a section of 20th century art. Lodovico Pogliaghi's collection includes precious Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek and Roman archaeological finds, paintings and sculptures dating from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, a rich collection of ancient European and Asian textiles, precious historical furniture, unique items and bizarre objects from all over the world.