The Sacro Monte at Varallo Sesia
The true forbear of the other eight Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy was erected here, in the middle of the verdant Sesia Valley (an hour's drive from Lake Orta), from the end of the 15th century onwards, on top of a steep crag dominating the picturesque town of Varallo Sesia (7,000 inhab.).
This amazing site (a Unesco Heritage site since 2003), originally erected for devotional purposes, was built over a lengthy period of time during which several transformations took place.
The best contemporary artists were charged with both the construction and the decoration of the 40 plus buildings dedicated to biblical stories and the life of Jesus Christ: if you are travelling around this region (Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Novara, etc.) it’s definitely worth a visit for those of you who are fond of art history, nature and great views!
The whole complex is embellished by a rich vegetation, flower beds and scenic “piazzas”. You can reach the Sacro Monte di Varallo on foot along the original cobblestone track (20 min.), or in a few seconds with a superpanoramic cablecar!
If you have a whole day to spend, Ortaeoltre suggests a visit to the gorgeous medieval church of Santa Maria delle Grazie and a stroll in the old town centre full of interesting architectures, typical little shops and cafés.