Sacro Monte di Varese
The devotional route runs along the slopes of Mount Velate in a splendid panoramic position overlooking the pre-alpine lakes and the plain. The Sacred Route was built between 1604 and 1698 to renew and enrich the sacredness of the pre-existing Marian sanctuary, an initiative of Capuchin father Giovanni Battista Aguggiari, who ordered the construction of the chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary. Architect Giuseppe Bernascone, also known as "Il Mancino", designed the entire complex (chapels, arches, fountains and boulevards), giving it its character of monumental consistency that distinguishes it. Important Lombardy-based artists worked at the Sacred Mount of Varese, such as Morazzone, Francesco Silva, the Recchi brothers, Dionigi Bussola and Stefano Maria Legnani also known as "il Legnanino". In 1983, Renato Guttuso painted a contemporary version of the Escape into Egypt on the outer wall of the Nativity Chapel. At the end of the uphill path, with its characteristic cobblestones, one reaches the small village of Santa Maria del Monte with its typical covered roads and the ancient monastery of the Romite Ambrosiane, near which it is possible to visit the Baroffio Museum and the Pogliaghi House-Museum. The trip up the hill with the funicular railway built in 1909 and restored a few years ago, is also evocative.
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