The Baroffio Museum and the Crypt
Sacro Monte di Varese is a monumental site consisting of fourteen chapels, the Sanctuary and the Crypt, erected on the Velate mountain between 1604 and 1698. The Via Sacra is dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary, a 2 km long uphill path with 250 meters of altitude. The village can also be reached by private and public transport, even using the liberty funicular.
The Baroffio Museum is the oldest museum in Varese, inaugurated in 1936 inside which you can admire three collections on three levels with masterpieces of Lombard art from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century: the picture gallery of Count Giuseppe Dall'Aglio with Flemish works, the from the Romanesque period of the Sanctuary and a surprising collection of contemporary art with a Marian subject, with works by Guttuso, Bodini, Matisse and Rouault.
Among the most characteristic works you can find the Madonna and Child by Domenico and Lanfranco da Ligurno dated to the year 1196 and the Ambrosian antiphonary made by Cristoforo de 'Predis in 1476, in tempera and gold on parchment. From the terrace there is a panoramic view of the Campo dei Fiori Park and the lakes of Varese, Comabbio, Monate and the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore.
The Crypt is the ancient church of Sacro Monte which dates back to the 9th-10th century: an environment that will become underground when in the 12th century the Sanctuary will be built on the upper level. It is characterized by a cycle of frescoes from the late fourteenth-early fifteenth century with stories related to the Trinity, the holy martyrs and the Virgin. Characteristic are the graffiti that adorn the scenes and are the traces left by pilgrims as evidence of their journey. The Crypt has been uninhabitable since 1931 and reopened to the public in 2015 after an important engineering project. On the occasion of the restoration works, in the two rooms leading to the Crypt, fifteenth-century devotional frescoes and a funeral oratory with attestations from the seventh to the twelfth century were brought to light, whose second excavation campaign ended in 2020.