The Sacred Mount that sits above Varese rises at 883 m. a.s.l..
The devotional path extends along the slopes of Monte Velate, in a splendid, panoramic position that looks down on a beautiful setting of pre-alpine lakes and the plain.
The Via Sacra – Sacred Way - was built starting in 1604, on the initiative of the Cappuccino Friar Giovanni Battista Aguggiari, who planned the construction of fourteen chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary. The last, with the celestial vision of the Virgin, received and crowned in Paradise, was to have the place of honour in the sanctuary at the end of the devotional route, founded it is said, by Sant’Ambrogio.
The project of Padre Aguggiari was soon realised thanks to the support of the local communities and wealthy families. The work continued, especially on the furnishings of the chapels, until the 18th century.
The Sacred Mount of Varese is the most uniform and homogeneous of all the Sacred Mounts of Piemonte and Lombardia; all the constructions (the chapels, the three fountains and the three arches that introduce the Mysteries) were designed by a single architect: Giuseppe Bernascone known as “Il Mancino”.
The chapels all have porticos with different shapes and very pompous; through doors and windows with grates, today with windows, visitors can see inside their groups of scenic figures.
Many important architects of the Lombard
cultural scene worked on the Sacred Mount
of Varese, including Giovan Mauro della
Rovere, one of the Fiammenghini,
Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli
known as Morazzone, Francesco Silva,
the Recchi Brothers, Dionigi Bussola,
Antonio Busca and Stefano Maria
Legnani called il Legnanino.
In 1983, Renato Guttuso was
invited by Mons. Pasquale
Macchi to paint an acrylic
with a contemporary version
of the Flight to Egypt on the outside
wall of the chapel dedicated to the Nativity.