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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 1 - St. Caterina del Sasso Hermitage

2 years ago, we were here, visiting the small islands around this lake....

Only when I stood here and looked at the board, then I believe I have come back to this place again. It's like a dream to see Isola Pescatori and Isola Bella again, within a reach of 15 minutes boat ride. 

This time, we would go to Santa Caterina, another small island somewhere in Lake Maggiore.

The boat which is operated by Navigation Company had came to pick us on time (1025), then carry us straight to our destination.

We were quite tired, but could still hang on.

Seeing Isola Bella at one side...

and passing by Isola Pescatori....

Vincent seem curious about this place, he kept asking his dad for more informaion.

15 minutes later, the place we wanted to go can be seen from far.

Standing on a sheer rock overlooking the lake, the shrine is made up of recently restored building, called Santa Caterina del Sasso Hermitage.

The hermitage was founded by a wealthy loan-shark, Alberto Besozzi in 1170. It is said that whilst he was out in his boat one evening, he was caught up in a storm and his baot capsized. He prayed to St. Catherine to be saved and that if his prayers were answered, he would give all his money to the poor and retire to live as a hermit. His prayers were answered and so he went to live in a cave as a hermit.

In 1195, a plague struck the local population and he was asked for help. In return he asked the local people to build a votive chapel to St. Catherine. Alberto Besozzi died in 1205 and he was buried near the St. Catherine Chapel. People would come there and pray to be cured.

In 1914, the Italian government made the hermitage into a national monument and then in 1970 it passed into the hands of the Varese Province authorities. Due to the problems of potential landslides and collapse, major restoration works were undertaken before opening the complex to the public in 1986.

Perpendicular to Lake Maggiore, the monastery is made up of 3 distinct parts (the South Convent, the small Convent and the Church), placed along the rocky ridge. Only the latter is now open to the public. 

Presently occupied by the Dominicans, that first erected it in the 14th century, the tiny convent, was later occupied by other religious orders. 

When the boat docked at the pier, we all disembark from here.

Through the front gate, we entered the southern part of the monastery.

Walking along an arcade, and awed by a beautiful view of the lake.

This place is romantic too...

Passing by the chapel which is not opened to the public.

All the windows were tightly closed...

I wondered who are living in there right now?

A little yard housing a wooden press dating from 1759.

The little statues of St. Catherine with the virgin and child.

This church is the only part that is opened to the public now.

The interiors has been newly restored.

We had taken some time to admire the recently restored frescoes both outside and inside the richly decorated monastery.

The church dates back to the end of the 16th century. The altar-piece shows a scene of St. Catherine with the virgin and child and St. Nicholas with Blessed Albert.

The famous Last Supper.

Vincent & William are very interested to this man in the coffin. We have no idea who he was though.

Quite some tourists visiting this small monastery, just like us.

Basically, that's all about St. Caterina that we can see.

In order to catch the boat arriving in another 15 minutes, we need to walk back to the pier then. Otherwise,we would need to wait 3 hours for the next boat to come at around 2.30 pm.

It's very windy over here, so I couldn't help with my already-messy hair anymore.

From here, we could see the boat hasn't come yet. Instead of waiting at the pier downs there, we prefer to wait here.

The view up here is really so beautiful, that I could have sat here half day if possible.

Actually, we could have walked up the hill some more from here, but husband's knees were not in good condition. In order not to stress him too much, we decided to go up. 

This place is really has its own charm. After all, it's nearly 1000 years old.

Walking down to the pier.....

Tourists who were waiting for the boat to come.

Sons have discovered some sort of small berries hanging on the trees. They played with them happily then.

Just that, we got to keep an eyes on them that they won't fall into the sea some how (will they?)

Some people would actually sail here, cool.

I looked up on them, and they looked down on me. They are the people who had decided to stay behind a bit longer than us. 

Although there is nothing much to see at here, it's a romantic place that worth visiting.

BTW, I heard there was a musical events held in this place just a week before our arrival. I could imagine how awesome it was. 

So long, Santa Caterina, I wish you a long life.


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