Santa Caterina guide

Santa Caterina del Sasso

A cliff-side monastery on Italy's Lago Maggiore (Lake Maggiore)

Ermeo di Santa Caterina del Sasso, Lago Maggiore
Santa Caterina del Sasso (Photo by Mattana)

In thanks for being saved from a shipwreck in the 13th century, a local merchant built a chapel clinging to the cliff face on the eastern shore above the treacherous, deepest park of the lake.

Santa Caterina del Sasso from above.
Santa Caterina del Sasso from above.
This grew to become the monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso, a home for up to 35 hermits to live and pray.

The facade and interior are covered with an amalgam of frescoes—in varying states of fading, crumbling, or defacement by graffiti—dating variously from the hermitage's foundation in the 13th century to its suppression by the Austrians in the 19th century.

Te interior of Santa Caterina del Sasso
The interior of Santa Caterina del Sasso
It became a property of the local province in 1970, and the Dominicans returned in 1986. They now run a little shop that sells products (honeys, beauty products, liqueurs) from various Lombard monasteries.

One warning: there are many steps down from the parking lot. Infrequent lake ferries service the ancient dock. In fact, on the loggia is a winch assembly once used with a basket to raise the daily shopping—and the occasional frail monk—from the boat decks.

Planning your visit to Santa Caterina del Sasso

A fresco detail of the Sala Capitolare in Santa Caterina del Sasso
A fresco detail of the Sala Capitolare in Santa Caterina del Sasso

Tips & links


Local tourist info: The closest tourist office is just to the south in Angera at Piazza Garibaldi 10 (tel. +39-0331-960-256; Also useful: and

Hotels on Lake Maggiore (Booking)
How to get to Santa Caterina del Sasso

If you don't have a rental car, the easiest way is by boat (, with connections to just about everywhere on the lake—though not, sadly, in winter, when ferry services on the lake are reduced and stops at Santa Caterina are suspended.

Useful links & resources

Share this page

Intrepid Travel 25% off



Santa Caterina del Sasso
Via di S. Caterina 5, Leggiuno, Lake Maggiore
tel. +39-0332-647-172
Open Apr-Oct daily 8:30am–noon and 2:30–6pm; in winter open 9am–noon and 2–5pm (in Mar and Dec 23–Jan 6 daily; otherwise Sat–Sun only).

Hotels on Lake Maggiore (Booking)

Useful links

Train tix

Shortcuts to popular planning sections:

Airfares, Cars, Trains, Tours, Packages, Cruises, Lodging, Itineraries, Info, Packing, Prep, Comm

Follow ReidsItaly
Follow ReidsItaly on Twitter  Join the ReidsItaly fan page  Follow Reids Italy Adventures blog