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Santa Caterina del Sasso, Lake Maggiore

Outside Leggiuno
Lake Maggiore's insider take:

A local 13th-century merchant, drowning during a shipwreck on Lake Maggiore, prayed to St. Catherine of Alexandria for help. She came through, and he dutifully built a chapel dedicated to his savior saint on a sheer rock wall above the deepest, most treacherous part of the lake. Over the centuries it grew into a hermitage, hanging spectacularly from the cliff side. The facade and walls contain a collage of frescoes dating from the 13th to 19th centuries (when the ruling Austrians suppressed the monastery). The building fell into disrepair until the 1980s, when the government stepped in and removed graffiti, rehabbed the frescoes, and invited a community of Dominicans to reinhabit the premises. The monks now do a brisk business selling beauty products, honeys, and liqueurs to tourists who brave the many steps down and around the cliff side to admire the brilliant lake views.

Open April through October daily 8:30 am to noon and 2:30 to 6 pm; March, daily 9 am to noon and 2 to 5 pm; November through February weekends 9 am to noon and 2 to 5 pm.

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