A UNESCO site since 2003, the Sacro Monte di Orta is the only sacro monte dedicated to a saint (Francis of Assisi).
In Northern Italy there are nine Sacri Monti, all of them erected in either Piedmont or Lombardy.
Usually this particular kind of mainly baroque architecture is dedicated to Christ’s life or to the Virgin Mary. It always consists of a number of large shrine-like buildings, called “cappelle” (chapels), beautifully set in landscaped greenery, all of which display sacred scenes or events by use of sculptures and paintings. In Orta’s Sacro Monte you can find around 400 terracotta statues, dating back to the 17th and 18th century, together with numerous fresco paintings on walls and vaults, many by famous artists.
The 21 chapels were built as a devotional way or path and if followed in order they illustrate the life of Saint Francis. Set on a hilltop overlooking the Island of Orta San Giulio, the Sacro Monte brings together art, landscape and history and makes for a unique and inspiring visit. It offers possibly the most breathtaking view of the island and lake, with a backdrop of Pella and the stunning Valsesia hills.