Deep in the Italian countryside west of Lake Maggiore is the oldest of the known ‘sacred mountains’. The Monte Sacro di Varallo was founded in 1491 and is made up of 45 chapels and a basilica that have been built overlooking the town of Varallo.
Visiting the Sacred Mountain of Varallo
Follow the path up Monte Tre Croci to explore the chapels, whose colourful frescoes illustrate the life and death of Christ. The walk takes only about 15 to 20 minutes, but there’s also a cable car from Varallo, which makes it easily accessible.
Once you reach the top of Sacred Mountain of Varallo, you can wander around the attractive squares filled with porticos as well as the basilica. The city-type layout was a homage to Jerusalem, and this sacred mountain certainly has a less remote atmosphere than some of the others in the Piedmont region. There are several places to stop around Sacred Mountain of Varallo for a coffee or a meal.
What to See near the Sacred Mountain of Varallo
The picturesque town of Varallo straddles the Sesia river and is surrounded by the thickly forested hills of the Piedmont region. Its historic centre is compact and easy to explore on foot. Pop into the church of San Gaudenzio where you can admire the frescoes by local Renaissance artist Gaudenzio Ferrari. And if you want a bit more art, head to the Pinacoteca Civica.
After strolling the Varallo’s streets of pastel-coloured palaces and townhouses, be sure to stock up on Barolo wine, justifiably one of the most famous produced in the Piedmont region. If you’re in an adventurous mood, you can hire kayaks and dinghies to go paddling or rafting in the Sesia river.
Where to Stay near the Sacred Mountain of Varallo
As Varallo is so close to Lake Maggiore, you’ll have a wide choice of elegant old-world hotels that have superb locations on the lake. The resorts of Stresa, Baveno and Verbania have many romantic lakeside hotels. Or you could stay in a welcoming guesthouse or B&B in the middle of the lush Italian countryside.