The spectacular Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso

The Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso is definitely the most stunning panoramic site of Lake Orta!

This church is clearly visible from the village of Orta, on the opposite shore: it stands on a steep stone crag which until fifty years ago was part of a huge quarry of a particularly valuable white granite. The view from up there is absolutely amazing: from here you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the whole of lake Orta and, on very clear days, you can even see Milan’s skyscrapers!
Many tourists pay a visit again and again to this site thanks to its unexpected terrace in front of the church which is significantly called “Cusio’s balcony” thanks to its 360-degree view on Lake Orta (called Cusio).

The present church, very elegant and rich inside, with paintings and late baroque decorations, was built mid-18th century replacing an earlier one. The miracle related to the erection of the sanctuary is about different legendary tales, the most famous of which tells of a shepherd who fell asleep on top of the crag and woke up miraculously alive and unharmed along with the whole of his flock of sheep, notwithstanding that a violent storm had hit that area causing major damage all around.

The granite wall facing the lake was climbed for the first time in May 1960 by two local young men in their twenties: they were good climbers, only armed with old hemp ropes, iron nails and wooden wedges. They started at 6.30am and reached the top in the late afternoon. In those days it was regarded as a heroic undertaking!

Behind the sanctuary you’ll find a cosy kiosk and a fabulous picnic area. In around 20 minutes you can reach on foot the old, picturesque hamlet of Boleto, which boasts a small but interesting and recently renovated museum, the Stonemasons' Museum (Museo dello Scalpellino) with period photographs, old footage and memorabilia relating to the risky daily life in the quarry.

An easy and entertaining way to reach the Sanctuary during the is the Trenino di Pella, a colourful tourist train that will take you up there in 25 minutes offering during the journey breathless views over the lake, driving along verdant meadows and through a couple of little picturesque hamlets.

See our suggested itinerary in section My Tours: Lake Orta from above: the Balcony of Lake Orta (HD o FD)