The Sacri Monti, or Sacred Mountains, are located in northern Italy in the Piedmont and Lombardy region and are groups of Chapels and other religious architecture dedicated to the different aspects of the Christian faith. They were built as places of pilgrimage and worship during the 15th and 16th century, at a time when access to the Holy Land was becoming more difficult due to the expansion of Muslim culture. Today, the Sacri Monti are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
The Sacred Mounts of northern Italy
Initially built as the ‘New Jerusalem’ each sacro monte began by applying certain fundamental rules and standards in terms of typology and architectural style but evolved according to its own unique style of art and distinct theme or role. Today, the Sacri Monti remain an important meeting point for devotees and art lovers.
Madonna del Soccorso to Osuccio, above Lenno - Lake Como
On the heights of Lake Como above Lenno, a pilgrim's path lined with chapels climbs to the magnificent Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso. All devotion aside, the ascent of this Sacri Monti di Ossuccio offers a superb view of the olive groves, the Isola Comacina and the lake.
The Sacred Mount consists of 14 chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, built between 1635 and 1710. The chapels are dotted along the route that leads to the sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso. The chapels are connected via a stone path bordered by olive groves creating a perfect harmony between architecture and landscape.
The Sacro Monte of Orta San Giulio - Lake Orta
Overlooking the promontory that stretches out over Lake Orta, the Sacro Monte trail winds its way through gardens and woods, to reach 20 chapels with sculptures and paintings depicting episodes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi
In 1590, the abbot of Novara Amico Canobio positioned the architectural works in the natural landscape of the hill that overlooks the village of Orta and dominates Lake. The scenes are represented in a theatrical baroque-style, each one filled by statues and very realistic paintings. The trail ends at the Church of Saint Nicholas. The beauty of the landscape and the silence that reigns blend perfectly with Franciscan spirituality.
Why visit the Italian Sacri Monti ?
In addition to their symbolic and spiritual meaning, the Sacri Monti are of exceptional architectural beauty with their small chapels, frescos, life-size statues and paintings that tell stories and unveil sacred mysteries. The landscape is simply breathtaking. Whether you are nestled in the forest or on the heights, the walking paths all overlook the glistening waters of the National treasure that is the Italian Lakes. Lake Como and Lake Orta with their range of activities for all the family are an ideal location for a walking holiday. With regular fights into Milan and then a train from Milan to Como, it is easy to come and discover the Italian lakes for a short break weekend getaway or a weeklong stay. Hop on a boat and cross the lake, exploring the beautiful Piedmont villages and the tiny island of San Giulio home to a Romanesque Basilica and a Benedictine convent. Spend time visiting villas and botanical gardens, indulging in excellent Italian cuisine and some of the best Italian wine (for the Piedmont produces the most wine) and reveling in the peacefulness of the Sacri Monti, taking the time to pray, reflect and recharge.
A walking holiday through the Sacred Mountains is ideal for lovers of mountains, lakes and Italian architecture. Review our walking tours of the Italian lakes and discover the Sacri Monti: