A short text providing further interesting details about
the history and origins of the Hermitage.
Tradition holds that the Hermitage was founded by Alberto Besozzi, a wealthy local merchant who, having survived a storm while crossing the lake, decided to go into retreat on this part of the lake side, and conduct the life of a hermit. Here the Blessed Alberto ordered the construction of a chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine of Egypt and which is now visible in the lower part of the Church. This chapel, dating back to the 12th century, was soon joined by another two churches: San Nicola and Santa Maria Nova, which definitely existed from the 14th century. After an early historical period, when the Dominicans took residence, from 1314 to 1645 the Hermitage was led by brothers from the Milan convent of Sant'Ambrogio ad Nemus, subsequently replaced by the Carmelites until 1770. An important event took place at the beginning of the 18th century, when five enormous "ballerini" ("dancing") boulders crashed down onto the Church, but came to a halt in the vault of a chapel, without causing any serious damage, and remaining suspended there for almost two centuries, until 1910. These "traballanti" ("unsteady") rocks would appear to have given the name to the Hermitage, the full name of which is Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro (Santa Maria of the Dancing Rock), although the more probable etymology of the name is associated with the nearby town of Ballarate. The Hermitage has been the property of Varese Province since 1970. It was administered by a Dominican community from 1986 to 1996 but has now passed to the Benedictine oblates.
Clinging to a rock face directly overhanging the lake, the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is certainly one of the most charming sights of Lago Maggiore.
All the information required in order to penetrate the beauty of the hermitage, experiencing unforgettable moments of culture and spiritual contemplation.
A daring piece of modern engineering, used to reach the monastery from one of the most panoramic points in Verbano.