Friday, April 17, 2015

More mountains and churches – a walk through history

Italy 4 Varallo Sesia

After a good night’s sleep (getting a hotel room always improves the chances of sleeping decently, funny thing that) and breakfast it was off to discover the many historical points of Varallo Sesia, most of which are linked to churches in the large sense of the term (some are chapels, some pilgrimage sites, others churches, etc.). The Collegiata of San Gaudenzio was first as just across the street: paintings by Ferrari.
Bell Tower of the Collegiata of San Gaudenzio

Inside the Collegiata of San Gaudenzio

Giacobini sepulchre in the Collegiata of San Gaudenzio

The pope visited Varallo Sesia in 1984

Collegiata of San Gaudenzio as seen from Sacro Monte

Next was the 15th century Santa Maria delle Grazie and Gaudenzio Ferrari’s 15th century fresco depicting the life of Christ, which covers an entire wall (one can pay to light up the fresco). 

The Lady of our Graces inside.

The Fresco

Then it was on to the top of the hill and the Sacro Monte di Varallo. An UNESCO Heritage site, it is one of the most famous Piedmont pilgrimage sites, the oldest Italian and foreign one of its kind.  It blew my mind away. Didn’t count all of the marvelous chapels with painted sculptures of the life of Christ, but later learned that there are 45 (and no I am not going to publish pictures of all of them).  The “minor basilica” from the outside gives no clue to the splendor of the Baroque style inside. for those interested in learning more.

map of the Sacro Monte di Varallo

vaults and earthquake bars

Adam and Eve, one of 45 separate frescoes and statues

Part of the Last Supper

Note the detail in the expressions

Again part of the more than 800 painted life-size statues of wood and terracota

details on one of the "window" boxes

Post number 40 - with statues and frescoes behind

A plaque in honor of the English writer Samuel Butler and his "Ex Voto"

The minor basilica
Inside the minor basilica
The coffee shop itself was a splendid Art Deco room and needing to use the facilities I was flabbergasted to see a tile wall that was round (how they managed that without any seems I certainly don’t understand). 

Dining room of the Sacro Monte restaurant

detail in the dining room

detail on the linen table clothes
 A few more photos from around town in Varallo Sesia

In a courtyard


Sheltered flowers

wall mask

Spring has sprung

Interesting chimney pots

The Collegiata and town seen from Sacro Monte

The perfect tulip

Then it was winding roads and a village restaurant where just the anti pasti would have been more than sufficient, but was followed by fresh pan-fried trout. No room at any point on this trip for dessert!

The afternoon was spent in Fobello, a small mountain town, which was the home to Vincenzo Lancia and his son Gianni Lancia – yes there is a Lancia street. It is also one of the villages with the best preserved traditions in costumes (a particular stitch) of the area.


Fobello, home to the Lancia family

Then back to the Lago d’Orta and a room overlooking the lake. Life is tough.

View from Madonna del Sasso overlooking the Lago d'Orta