Friday, March 9, 2018

The Sacro Monte di Varese, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Thursday, 8 March, 2018

First and foremost here in Italia, Buona Festa Delle Donne!

Yes, March 8th is Italy's
Festival of Women

Traditionally, women wear a lot of yellow on this festival day and are given mimosas like the ones seen here.

Now this Italian festival has morphed into International Women's Day.

After resting at the Villa Skorpion all day Wednesday, I needed some adventure today.

Old wall near the
Venegono Superiore Library

I had to return a couple of DVDs that I had checked out last week and desperately needed a café and small tiramisu at the nearby caffé/pastry bar.

For weeks I had been told about an area in the mountains above Varese that I had to visit, the Sacro Monte.

The Sacro Monte sounded interesting as it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Then again, name a place in Italy that isn't a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The ten minute drive up the mountain from Varese was filled with interesting sights including a deer that jumped off of a three foot embankment about 30 feet in front of my car as I drove. 

Great views from the
top of the Sacro Monte

Including this village below us

After parking the car legally, no parking ticket today, I started walking towards the village of Santa Maria del Monte.

I wonder how the Turtle Party
did in last Sunday's election

Several election posters were still up and on full display even up here in this rarified air.


Gnarly tree waiting for Spring

Looking down towards
the village cemetery

The cemetery's biggest memorial

The Sacro Monte, Sacred Mountain, is dedicated to the 15 mysteries of the rosary describing the lives of Jesus and Mary.

The Sacro Monte was the idea of the Franciscans towards the end of the 15th-century as an alternative to  a pilgrimage to the Holy Land made impossible at that time by political events.

Long before the Franciscans brain storm, this mountain had been considered sacred since having been consecrated by St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, in 389 A.D.

It is said that St. Ambrose celebrated the Eucharist on this mountain top to thank Mary for the victory over the Arian heresy.

There is a two kilometer, two hundred meter trail up, or in my case down, the mountain that is flanked by 14 Rosary Chapels with the fifteenth and highest chapel being reserved to honor Mary's Assumption into Heaven.

As I mentioned, I parked at the top of the mountain and started to walk down the mountain in reverse order of the Rosary Chapels. 

The Moses Fountain
built between 1803 and 1817
carved by Gaetano Monti

Moses up close

Even this small village
had its share of war dead

Looking up towards the
15th Rosary Chapel

Nice bell tower

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI, Giovanni Montini, was born in the Lombardy city of Concesio.

He was once the Archbishop (1955) and later Cardinal (1958) of Milan before being elected Pope in 1963. His reign as Pope ended with his death in 1978.

His memory as a local priest, Archbishop, Cardinal and Pope has not been forgotten on the Sacro Monte as his likeness, statues and a piazza bear his name.


Great views from the
Piazza Papa Paolo VI

Lake Varese in the distance

Pope Paul VI

At the base of Pope Paul VI's statue

It was time enter the 15th Rosary Chapel, the Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte.

Simple interior

I love painted ceilings

The Magi visiting the Child

Silver and gold cross

OK, maybe the Santuario's interior isn't so simple. 

Blue is the traditional color of
the Virgin Mary

Amazing colors

The Martyrdom of the Innocents

Who are those two nuns?

Both born in the early 1400s, Blessed Catherine of Pallanza is on the left and Blessed Giuliana of Verger is on the right.

The remains of these two women are in urns above their reposing statues.

They were hermits, which is unusual for women, who took pains to take care of both the Santuario and the pilgrims who came here.

Being declared Blessed or Beatified is the last step before sainthood in the Catholic Church.

They were both beatified in 1769 and still await official sainthood. 

Random Monk

The BVM, the baby Jesus and
lots of fat cherubs

Nice altar, more cherubs

Son worship?
I thought you meant Sun worship!

Penitence can be a bloody virtue

Emblematic of a Miracle

The Santuario was small but ever so intricate and ornate!

I opted to take advantage of the day's sunshine and continue to walk down the mountain.

As it turned out,
I wasn't the only one taking
advantage of the sunshine

People still live in the village

I was getting hungry . . .

. . . and the views were still incredible

Dining al fresco

This sign for food and drink
caught my attention

And, as the sign says, they are open at all hours!

They were closed.

The Ristorante Milano
was the place for me

No breaking into this home

This looked interesting . . .

. . . but it was closed too

The Museo Pogliaghi looked . . .

. . . beautiful on the outside

The 14th and closest, Rosary Chapel

A view back up the mountain
from the 14th Rosary Chapel

A statue on the
12th Rosary Chapel . . .

. . . and another

That is as far down the trail as I went today as the thought struck me that the farther down the trail I went meant the farther up the mountain I would have to climb to get back to my car.

The views made walking uphill easier

The 14th Rosary Chapel

Sacro Monte Flatiron Building?

One last vista before heading home

The night of our game in Varese against the Gorillas, we drove by a shopping mall that I had not seen before. Today my drive home took me by it again so I decided to stop and see what was for sale.

Festa Delle Donne cakes

They are made to look like the yellow mimosas that are a staple of today's festival.

Lots and lots of desserts!

Croissants filled with . . .

One HUGE loaf of bread

Note the yellow bread knife for comparison.




The pizza was good

Once back in Venegono Inferiore, I stopped in at Le Due Isole bar for an afternoon macchiato with Pap Francesco and to give his wife Laura and their daughter mimosas.

While perusing today's paper and drinking my macchiato, I saw this article in the newspaper . . . 

Pope Francis I has granted sainthood
to Lombardy's own Pope Paul VI

Talk about timing!

He will be officially canonized next October.

We had two practices as usual on a Thursday night.

U17, U15 and U13 Flag practices
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

I helped with the U15s tonight.

Not crazy about his follow through

Senior Practice
8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


Short passes too

We continue to be a work in progress as we work to . . .


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