THE SACRI MONTI (SACRED MOUNTAINS) OF PIEDMONT AND LOMBARDY: A LESS-KNOWN UNESCO SITE

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THE SACRI MONTI (SACRED MOUNTAINS) OF PIEDMONT AND LOMBARDY: A LESS-KNOWN UNESCO SITE

Varallo, Crea, Oropa, Ossucci, Ghiffa… have you ever heard of these site-names before? Did you know that they host important groups of chapels and other architectural edifices called Sacri Monti? Did you know that since 2003 they have been listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Let yourself be surprised and come with us to discover a piece of this destination and the beauty of Italian Lakes, in a tour that will fulfil all your senses and enrich your spirit.

DAY 1: LAKE ORTA AND SACRO MONTE OF ORTA

Activity level: leisurely – Duration: 45 min. – Ascent and Descent: 150 m.
Arrival in Pettenasco and lunch in a restaurant. After lunch, we will meet our guide and start a half-day tour by boat of Lake Orta. Our first stop will be at the little Island of San Giulio, dominated by its Romanesque Basilica, the bishop’s palace and the Benedictine Abbey. The tour will continue with the village of Orta San Giulio, a maze of picturesque streets and narrow cobbled lanes. The little squares, reminiscent of the campielli of Venice, are enlivened by the presence of craft boutiques, antique shops and lively cafés. We will further take the path that climbs up to the Sacro Monte of Orta, to admire the complex of chapels built between the late 16th and early 17th centuries, immersed in a woodland that offers a spectacular view of the lake. Finally, we will return to our coach and head towards our hotel situated in the surroundings of Lake Orta or Lake Maggiore. Dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 2: THE SACRED MOUNT OF VARALLO AND THE WALSER MUSEUM IN ALAGNA

Activity level: leisurely – Duration: 45 min. – Ascent and Descent: 150 m.
After breakfast, we will head towards Varallo Sesia for a guided visit of the Sacred Mount.
By the end of the XV century, on the rocky spur overlooking the town of Varallo, the Franciscan friar, Bernardino Caimi, dreamed of building a small Holy Land reproducing the main landmarks of Jerusalem linked to the life of Christ. From the early XVI century, thanks to the work of Gaudenzio Ferrari, the scenes were populated with life-sized statues, decorated with colourful clothes, beards, hair and natural expressions to involve the believer in the sacred drama. The Sacred Mount represents at the same time a sacred tale, a theatre, a work of art, amazing architecture, a garden and a forest.
After lunch, we will head towards Alagna Val Sesia, a mountain village situated 40 Km from Varallo. We will get acquainted with an ancient population, the Walser, originating from Germany. They settled down in Val Sesia around the XIII century and established several colonies, which have managed to keep its traditions up to this date proudly alive. We will visit the Walser Museum, an ancient building dated 1628, to explore the perfectly preserved and intact example of what a Walser house looked like and its use throughout the centuries.
Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 3: THE SACRED MOUNT OF OSSUCCIO AND LAKE COMO

Activity level: leisurely – Duration: 45 min. – Ascent and Descent: 150 m.
After breakfast, we will head towards Lake Como, where we will meet our guide for the full-day excursion of the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, situated on the western shore of Lake Como. It offers a splendid view of the lake, the mountains and the Comacina Island.
Dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, it was built presumably between the mid-seventeenth century and 1710 and by the will of the Franciscans and the local, noble families. It consists of fourteen chapels distributed along the path that climbs up to the sanctuary.
After a pleasant walk, we will continue the tour and take the ferry to Bellagio, one of the most beautiful villages on the lake and famous worldwide for its beautiful villas overlooking the water.
After enjoying our lunch in a local restaurant, we will stroll around the village and end the tour with the visit to the Gardens of Villa Melzi, designed by architect Luigi Canonica and agronomist Luigi Villoresi. The complex of Villa Melzi d’Eril includes the villa (which is private and cannot be visited) and the vast botanical garden that surrounds it. Finally, we will take the ferry to Cadenabbia and head back towards our hotel.
Dinner and overnight stay.

DAY 4: DEPARTURE

After breakfast, departure and end of services.

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