Sacro Monte, the Pogliaghi House Museum, Baroffio Museum and Campo dei Fiori Regional Park
Sacro Monte (Sacred Mountain) is the finest example of history and art in the Varese area. It is one of the nine sites known as the Sacri Monti (Sacred Mountains) of Piedmont and Lombardy that were inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in July 2003.
Sacro Monte has always been a place of pilgrimage and popular with other visitors. The Sacro Monte di Varese complex includes Via Sacra (holy road), a cobbled devotional road that passes by fourteen chapels as it climbs the mountain. Skilfully integrated into the surrounding countryside, each chapel is different and dedicated to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which are illustrated with sculptures, paintings and frescos.
The end of Via Sacra is marked at the top of the mountain by the Santa Maria del Monte Sanctuary where the Coronation of the Virgin, the fifteenth mystery of the rosary, is represented on the high altar.
The small village on Sacro Monte is still lived in today and charms visitors with its shady, windy lanes, steep steps, lantern-lit archways and many Art Nouveau homes.
The village also has two museums: the Baroffio Museum and Sacro Monte Sanctuary overlooking Varese and the Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum.
The Baroffio Museum tells the story of Santa Maria del Monte through the beauty of Romanesque sculptures, exquisite miniatures and Sforza family alter cloths. It is also home to the collection donated by Baron Baroffio, which includes paintings from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries and a section of contemporary holy art.
The Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum offers visitors more than a simple tour around a museum; it is actually the home and atelier to where the great eclectic artist withdrew in the 1900s and worked for decades creating a unique collection. His most representative work was the life-size sculpture on the main door on Milan Cathedral. Numerous footpaths branch out from the village of Santa Maria del Monte and throughout the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park, which overlooks the Varese hills and Po Valley.
The unique geographical location and geological characteristics have encouraged the establishment of extremely varied forms of plant life, including woods of chestnut and beech trees, areas of rock-growing flora, marshy areas, and a wide variety of wildlife.
The Santa Maria del Monte Sanctuary
Summer opening times: 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 2 - 6 p.m.
The Baroffio Museum and the Sanctuary - Piazzetta Monastero, Varese
2016 opening times: 19th March - 6th November
Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m./3 - 6.30 p.m.
May to September including Tuesday and Wednesday: 3 - 6.30 p.m.
Special opening times: Monday, 15th August: 9.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m./3 - 6.30 p.m.
Admission: full price € 4.00, reduced price € 2.00, family ticket (2 adults + 2 or more children) € 10.00, joint ticket for the Baroffio Museum and Pogliaghi House Museum € 5.00.
The Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum - Via Beata Giuliana 5, Varese
15th March to 15th November: Saturday, Sunday and public holidays - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Open on Friday evenings from June to August: 6.30 to 10.30 p.m.
Admission: full price € 4, school and adult groups (min. 15 persons) € 3, family ticket (two adults and two children) € 10, joint ticket for the Lodovico Pogliaghi House Museum and Baroffio Museum €5.