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The Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Sacro Monte de Ossuccio, the Sacred Mountain of Ossuccio, is crowned with the Santuario della Madonna del Soccorso, a church dedicated to Our Lady of Salvation. Artifacts within the church date back to the 13th century, when this site likely first became a place of devotion. Legend has it that a deaf and mute shepherd found a statue of the Madonna hidden in the woods and recovered his hearing and speech.

Side chapel in main church housing the 14th century marble statue of the Madonna and Child.

Local wealthy families funded the construction of 14 chapels along the route to the church the mid to late 1600s. A window into each reveals a vignette of each mystery of the rosary. The final mystery, Mary's crowing as queen of heaven, is depicted over the main altar in the church.

Altar piece at the Santuario della Madonna depicting the crowning of Mary as queen of heaven.

Seeing this UNESCO World Heritage site requires a bit of a hike. The walk itself isn't too long -about 2.5 miles each way starting at the main square in Lenno - but the trail is quite steep in places. There's roughly a 600 foot elevation change within two miles. The path is wide and paved with old stones which can be slick when wet but requires no expertise.

To find the trail, follow the Greenway del Lago di Como from the main square in Lenno toward Ossuccio. The Greenway is easy to follow with medallions embedded frequently along the path and the occasional signpost.

Follow the medallions for the Greenway del Lago to Ossuccio.

Along the way you'll pass the Villa Monastero, an old convent converted to a lovely villa. You'll cross a bridge under which mountain runoff flows to Lake Como. Be sure to peek through the gates of the lovely Villa Balbiano at the impeccable gardens and perhaps catch a glimpse of a society wedding. When you arrive in Ossuccio take a right at the bodega onto Via Luigi Vaccani.

Turn here in Ossuccio and follow the road. You will be able to hear the creek on your right hand side.

You will walk up the road for a bit into what appears to be an industrial park. Walk past the warehouses and office buildings toward what looks like an antique collection warehouse. This is where the trail begins. It winds up a steep stone staircase between several ancient homes.

The path begins next to an antique salvage warehouse. Follow the stone trail to the left.

The stone path leads between ancient buildings. You'll feel like you're invading someone's home, but don't worry. Continue to follow the path through the maze of houses. Notice the outdoor pizza oven on the terrace above the trail.

The trail continues steeply and you'll come upon the first chapel. Pause to view each scene and marvel at the workmanship in place for nearly two centuries. The path opens up and is shaded by the trees that line the way. Turn around from time to time and enjoy the view of Lake Como behind you.

One of the chapel stops along the way to the main church.

Besides the amazing hike and the beautiful church, the views from the top of the mountain are breathtaking!

Those eager to continue can go further past the church and hike to the Monastero San Benedetto. You can pick up the trail to the ancient monastery outside of the church.

Schedule your hike so that you can attend Italian Mass in the intimate church chapel. From February to October Mass is Monday through Friday at 5:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 am. November through January daily Mass is at 4:00 pm. After Mass, take a decidedly more leisurely hike back down to Lenno where you can enjoy a cappuccino at one of the lovely lakeside cafes.

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