Saturday, April 19, 2014

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Sacro Monte di Ossuccio on Lake Como

When you peruse the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, you will quickly notice that Italy has more than its fair share of places to visit.  Out of 981 properties, Italy has 49.  Almost 5% of the world's most-cherished sites.  That's almost three times as many as Greece and ten more than each of France or Germany have.  In fact, if you quickly eyeball that list, only Spain and China come close.

Here, take a look, while I get to the point of this post:

I like to fancy myself a UNESCO site collector (I'm up to 63 sites so far), so, when it finally dawned on me that Lake Como has its own UNESCO site I decided to act upon it at my next opportunity.  Which occurred in 2012 -  so this blog post is a little behind.  Oh well.

In May of 2012 my Mom and I had another of our visits to northern Italy.  She's becoming an old hand at this part of the world - each of my four visits to Lake Como were with her.  One morning on our trip I decided I was going to walk up to see the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio which is not far at all from our favorite place to stay, in Lenno.  She wasn't keen on an early morning walk so I crept out myself and enjoyed a lovely post-dawn walk along the lakefront and then up into the hills. 

There are fourteen chapels on the way up the hill to the church which contains the 15th chapel.  The complex was built during the course of the 17th and early 18th centuries and apparently was built on top of the 16th century Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso (I know what Soccorso means, because during our trip Mom had to visit the Pronto Soccorso - another story for another day.  She's fine). 

Up I climbed, with frequent stops to take photos and to look around me at the ever-expansive lake behind me as well as the various homes I passed along the way.  All of the chapels were closed - I imagine they would have been open at a different hour, though.

I made it to the top just as the church bells pealed 8 AM.  There is a road to get there as when I reached the top I saw a Range Rover.  There appeared to be a tiny little place for refreshments but it was early and no one was there. 

This church is actually in use although I wonder how tiny its congregation may be. You are not allowed to take photos inside, and, at that hour (despite being a Sunday morning) I was one of only two people silently wandering around. The votives had candles in them, some lit, so clearly there was life nearby. 

Here are some photos from my wander.  Enjoy!

At the beginning.  Look at all the chapels!

A few of the chapels:

Tada, some photos from the top.  See, I wasn't lying about being up there at 8 AM!

A view of the promontory.  On the other side is Villa Balbianello.  Directly below would be Ossuccio, and on the left side you can glimpse Lenno.

I love, love, love this photo.  This is the ferry, pulling into Lenno.  I've got it zoomed way in so it's farther away than it looks.  What a peaceful, peaceful morning.  Look how still the lake is, but for the ripples left by the boat. 

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