Saturday, May 25, 2019

A Fun Friday in Lombardia and Piemonte

Friday, 24 May, 2019

On one of the first nights that I got back to Varese back in January, I was invited to the Nardi home for dinner. At that splendid gathering we got to talking about things that I should definitely see this time around and I remember Federica Nardi emphatically stating that I must see the Santa Caterina del Sasso Monastery that clings to the high rocky cliff above Lago Maggiore's southeastern shore.

Today was a the day

Laurie with Lago Maggiore in the
background and the Hermitage
about 270 steps below her

We walked down but definitely took the elevator back up after our visit, two Euros well spent!

What a spectacular spot for a Monastery

Clinging was the right word

Living the religious life

 They even have a pedestrian ferry
dock another mere 80 steps down
from the Monastery

Back in the 13th and 14th-centuries
when the Monastery was built, they
catered to short monks I think

Let the Art Show begin!

The Crucifixion is a big theme here

St. Eligius, on the left, healing a horse

That is the Blessed Alberto Besozzi di Arolo on the right who founded this Monastery in ca. 1170 A.D.

 Like the man's hair do on the left

 A couple of religious people still
inhabit the Monastery it appears
 Now, THAT'S a grape press!

It wouldn't really be a Monastery if the monks weren't making a little wine for the services now would it?

The ever popular religious scourge

What are these ladies doing in a Monastery?

Deity Down!

Well, give him a hand for goodness sakes!

 The Monastery Church's
Main Altar

The body of Blessed Alberto
Besozzi di Arolo

Lots of color in this church

Santa Caterina I believe

The smallish church organ

Fisher of men on Lago Maggiore

 Nice lamps

Hermits and monks did
live here after all

Above the Main Altar

What an amazing
feat of architecture!

Romeo . . . Alfa Romeo

GRAZIE FEDERICA, great call!

We decided to drive on into the Piemonte region to explore the Sacro Monte di Varallo.

I first saw it at a distance in the quaint city of Varallo last year when dropping off former Westlake H.S. player Bob Hoyman who was embarking on a week long river rafting trip in the Alps.

As our friend Mark Johnson always attests, the best way to see a country is by car so that you can stop whenever something catches your eye along the way.

Like . . .

This graffiti in the small village
of Brebbia

Sounds about right to me.

We also stopped in the mountain town of Serravalle Sesia when Laurie saw a church and cemetery near our highway that she fancied.

Storm clouds brewing over this
Piemonte cemetery

This was the church that caught Laurie's eye,
the Santuario di Sant'Euseo

It had a nice view

Alpini Pride on display

It seems that all of northern Italy is justifiably proud of their mountain soldiers and their rich tradition of bravery protecting Italy's northern border.

Egypt in a Piemonte cemetery?

Why not?

Who is that on the right of
the pyramids entrance?


No more stops, it was on to Varallo.

Atop the Sacro Monte di Varallo
at last but this establishment was closed

As you may recall, Varese also has a Sacro Monte that consists of 14 beautiful chapels strewn up a long walkway up a hill.

Varallo's Sacro Monte is the oldest of Italy's nine Sacred Mountains designed to give pilgrims who could not travel all the way to the Holy Land an easier religious experience. This concept was started by a Franciscan monk in 1491 A.D.

The Sacro Monte di Varallo has a whopping 45 chapels with many of them clustered together at the top of the mountain. They all depict some phase of Passion of Christ set on the slopes of Monte Tre Croci.

 Chapel #1

A look religious dignitary

 The path to many more
of the 45 chapels

Cute little guys

Other than America's Centennial,
what else happened in 1876?

The view down at the city of Varallo
from the Sacro Monte

 Sacro Monte's Basilica dates
from 1614 A.D.

Nice street lamp

A Pilgrim's Albergo

We entered the Basilica . . .


Lots of statues above the altar

A wider shot of the cupola

 Who are these men?

 We noticed the intricate work . . .

. . . on the Basilica's doors as we exited

One last look back at the Basilica

After a great road trip, we stopped in downtown Varese as we saw a street market in progress.

We also found the Battistero di San Giovanni Battista next to the famous Bell Tower open, a rare occurrence.

Laurie had never been inside, so we entered yet another religious building today, this one dating from the 12th-century.

 This guy just stared at me
the whole time we were there!

Well, it is a Baptistry now isn't it!

 Rugged, good looks

Laurie and her Microcar

No, really, that is the brand name of this vehicle, Microcar.

I wonder if the monks at Santa Caterina del Sasso used these back in the day?

Our final stop of this good, long day was at the Pasticceria Marabelli for a Spritz and a Prosecco to wrap up the journey.

It also gave me a chance to see
the culinary guide to today's
Il Giro d'Italia stage from
Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale

Salami, polenta and honey were all on today's agenda.

Good times with Laurie today, now it's on top our final game of the regular season at home against the Canavese Mastifs. The game will be live streamed on Facebook by the Mastifs with kickoff slated for 9:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time on the west coast.

Tune in.

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