Santa Caterina del Sasso: Perpendicular to Lake Maggiore, the Monastery is composed of three distinct parts, placed along a rocky ridge.
Through the front gate, you enter the southern part of the monastery and walk along an arcade with a beautiful view of the lake.
A little yard housing a wooden press dating from 1759 leads you to the “conventino” and then a church of Romanesque origin.
Santa Caterina del Sasso: The structure
The building has a peculiar structure, the result of the fusion of three chapels which were once initially separate.
The paintings are beautiful, in particular, the ones from the 14th century in the church and the Capitular Hall.
According to the legend the monastery was founded by Alberto Besozzi of Arolo, a loan-shark who survived a shipwreck by the intercession of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in 1770 and retired to a hermit’s life on the Sasso Ballaro.
The three chapels built in subsequent times soon became the destination of pilgrimage, and the place itself was considered miraculous.
Santa Caterina del Sasso: The miracle
The miracle of the beginning of the 18th century is well-known: five huge rocks fell on the church, but they were entangled in a chapel’s vault and hung there for almost two centuries, until 1910.
The monument faced ups and downs over the centuries, between splendor and decadence, until its abolition in 1769. An extended period of carelessness and negligence followed, finally stopped by a long restoration which also allowed the return of a monastic community.
Presently occupied by the Dominicans, the same order, that first erected it in the 14th cent., other religious orders later held the little convent.
How to reach it
St. Catherine’s Sanctuary is easily reached by the lake with the boats departing from Stresa. With the low season the Santa Caterina del Sasso stop is skipped, so check the most recent schedule before going. The convent is accessible all year round with a car from the Lombardy side of Lake Maggiore. The Sanctuary can also be reached by car from the Lombardy side of the lake, from the town of Leggiuno.
Be prepared to climb some stairs: if you come from the lake, there are 88 steps to reach the Hermitage, if instead, you arrive with a car there are 288 steps to descend (and climb back on your way out).
Courtesy in part of APT Provincia di Varese
Where to stay in Stresa
There are hotels, apartments, B&Bs, and guesthouses available, check it out and make a reservation here.
this is an excerpt from the book “Lake Maggiore” by Enrico Massetti.
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy
Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.
The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)