Santa Caterina del Sasso

Useful Information

Location: Via Santa Caterina 5, 21038 Leggiuno VA.
(45.877458, 8.596850)
Open: 16-MAR to 14-OCT daily 9:30-19:30.
15-OCT to 15-DEC Mon-Fri 13:30-18, Sat, Sun, Hol 9:30-19:30.
16-DEC to 06-JAN daily 9:30-19:30.
07-JAN to 15-MAR Mon-Fri 13:30-18, Sat, Sun, Hol 9:30-19:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 5, Childrten (0-17) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 3, Locals EUR 3.
Groups (15+): Adults EUR 3.
Audioguide with headphones EUR 3, Lift EUR 1.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Santa Caterina del Sasso, Via Santa Caterina 5, 21038 Leggiuno VA, Tel: +39-0332-647014. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1195 chapel for Saint Catherine erected by Alberto Besozzi.


Santa Caterina del Sasso (Saint Catherine of the Rock) is a cave church, sometimes also called Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso (Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso) It was built into a cave on the shores of Lago di Como, or better on a narrow rock ledge right above the lake. There are several overhanging parts and one which is actually a small cave and used for a chapel. The church is reached either from a parking lot on the hill above by walking down 280 steps, or by using an elevator for a nominal fee, or by arriving by boat, it's about 80 steps above the jetty.

In the 12th century Alberto Besozzi was shipwrecked at this site. He climbed up to the cave where he prayed to Saint Catherine, vowing to be eternally devoted in exchange for rescue. He survived, and kept his promise by building a small church in her name in 1195. After his death he was buried at the chapel, where his body was mummified. His coffin is made of glass, so his mummified body can be easily seen. It doubles as a donation receptacle.

The site was at the beginning a hermitage, later, between the 13th and 17th century, additional churches were erected.

Along Lake Como the limestone often forms cliff faces, and here is the the legde with numerous small caves. There are more caves in the area, the next cliff to the south is also full of caves, for example the Grotta del Beato Alberto, the Grotta dei Roccioni, and the Grotta degli spiriti. This rock is used for climbing, and quite popular.