Built over the lake Maggiore, in the municipality of Leggiuno, the Hermitage consists of three separate nuclei, distributed along a rocky cliff.
From the front door you enter the southern convent and walk through a arched porch with stunning lake views. Crossed a courtyard with a wooden window of 1759, you reach the convent and then the church, whose origin is Romanesque. The present building has a truly unique structure, the result of the fusion of three distinctly distinctive chapels. Of great wealth and quality are the pictorial cycles, especially the 14th century, in the church as well as in the Capitular Room.
According to legend, the hermitage was founded by Alberto Besozzi of Arolo, a warden who escaped a shipwreck by intercession of St. Catherine of Alexandria in 1170 and retired to hermitic life on Sasso Ballaro. Three chapels that came to light later became pilgrimage and the site itself was considered miraculous: the beginning of the sixteenth century was celebrated when five huge boulders rushed to the church but remained entangled in the vault of a chapel, remaining suspended for almost two centuries Until 1910.
The monument was known for centuries, between splendor and decadence, until its suppression in 1769. It followed a long period of neglect and abandonment, which remedied a long restoration that also allowed the return of a monastic community.
(From the website of the Tourism Agency of the province of Varese)