Visiting Lake Maggiore – Part Three of Three
Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso
If you are visiting Lake Maggiore and have an extra day after visiting the Borromean Islands, you should visit the Monastery complex perched on a cliff above Lake Maggiore. The Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is literally on the side of the mountain and right above the water.
The Monastery has a total of three buildings: two convents and a main church. The story goes that the merchant Alberto Besozzi of Arolo was shipwrecked and after taking shelter in a cave, declared devotion to Saint Catherine and built the small main church (in the 12th century). The two other structures date from the 14th century. The Hermitage became home to the Augustinian monks, followed by the Ambrosian Hermits, Carmelites and today it is run by Oblate Benedictines.
The southern convent was built in the 15th century, although the old wooden structure collapsed into the lake years ago. There is a winepress in the courtyard, and opposite this is the small convent with portions of a 16th century fresco depicting Saint Catherine. The bell tower of the church was built in the 14th century; notice how the bell tower is right at the edge of the rocky cliff.
You can reach the Monastery on Lake Maggiore by foot (about 15 minute walk down a steep path of 268 steps to be exact), by elevator (cost is a couple of Euros), or by ferry boat. The steps and elevator are reached from the car park area above.
For the ferry schedules on Lake Maggiore, the best website to use is the official navigational website where you can look up schedules for Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Garda – click here for the website that is available in English.
When is the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso open:
*The complex is open in the morning and afternoon, so do not plan on visiting it during lunch.
November – February 9am-Noon and 4pm to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday
March: 9AM-Noon and 2PM-5PM every day
April-October: 8:30AM-Noon and 2:30PM-6PM
December 23-January 6: 9AM-Noon and 2PM-5PM