The Sacro Monte
The Sacro Monte of Varese is a religious complex built on the mount of Velate between 1604 and 1698 and compoused by 14 Chapels, the Shrine and the Crypt. Its aim was to spread the Catholic faith to local people as a way of combating the growing influence of the protestant reformation.
A 2 km pilgrims’ trail with 14 chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary leads to the top of the Sacro Monte. Access to the chapels path is gained by a paved road (via Conventino), which is also an alternative route to the pedestrian pilgrims’ trail.
Next to the first chapel stands the Centro Espositivo mons. Macchi, where visitors and pilgrims are welcomed.
After walking along the 2 km steep cobbled path, visitors reach the small village of Santa Maria del Monte, where they can follow the ancient covered paths, visit the Baroffio and Casa Pogliaghi museums before getting to the Shrine and the Convent of the Romite Ambrosiane. Visitors arriving by car or bus (parking piazzale Pogliaghi) can walk through the short via del Ceppo to the lifts, which will take them up to the entrance of the Shrine in the piazzetta Paolo VI.
The mountain can also be reached by using the funicular whilst enjoying the most spectacular views. It was made in 1909 and reactivated a few years ago. On Saturdays and Sundays, the line C bus stops at the lower funicular station and a short ride will take you to the top.