the 20 chapels of the Sacro Monte d’Orta

Back in December, I wrote about my difficulty finding the Sacro Monte d’Orta in
this post. I was not able to find it on my first try, but was determined, so I gave it a second try, even changing my plans by taking the later bus back to Stresa. I have always heard about visiting the little island, Isola San Giulio when spending time in Orta San Giulio, but Sacro Monte to me was a much more rewarding visit. It was so peaceful and serene. The air was fresh and cool. I could have spent an entire day at il Sacro Monte d’Orta (or the Sacred Mount of Orta).

It was well worth the effort to hike that hill (twice) even though my legs felt like jelly when I finally reached the Sacro Monte. I met an older couple when I arrived. I think I surprised them as I was huffing and puffing and appeared out of no where at this back entrance that really was not an entrance. They made a comment about my hiking up to Sacro Monte and how my legs must be like wood. I think there was a translation glitch but we laughed just the same. They pointed me in the right direction to find the real entrance so that I could start my journey visiting the 20 chapels.

The arch at the entrance:


There are a series of 20 small chapels at Sacro Monte d’Orta, all of which are dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, along with The New Chapel and the Church of the Saints Nicholas and Francesco. I am going to focus on the 20 chapels in this post and will do another post on The New Chapel and the church.

This description provides a little more information:


On the front of each chapel, you will find a number (written in Roman Numerals) along with a hand pointing to the next chapel.

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Chapel VIII


Because I am directionally challenged, I studied the map to figure out just how to approach my visit of the 20 chapels.

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I took photos of each of the chapels I visited so that I could share the beauty of the chapels with all of you. I tried my best to stay in order so I could keep track of which chapel was which along the way.

Information sheets were located inside of the open chapels and outside of the closed chapels, except for Chapel XI. Not sure what happened to that sheet. The information sheets were in Italian, as well as English and I believe German. Because some of the chapels were dark, the photo quality of each of the information sheets varies.

Even though there were little hand pointing signs on each chapel, I never managed to find Chapels XVIII and XIX. Below are photos of the 18 of 20 chapels I visited

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Orta San Giulio, I would highly recommend including a visit to Sacro Monte d’Orta.

**UPDATED: Picasa Web Albums no longer work. Instead of making another slideshow, I decided to make this square tile display of the 18 of 20 chapels that I visited.

(click on any photo to start a slideshow)

12 thoughts on “the 20 chapels of the Sacro Monte d’Orta

  1. Oh my! Absolutely gorgeous and looks like its intriguing beauty was well worth the hike – twice. Thanks for sharing your adventure. BTW: Where do I learn to do a Picassa photo page like that? I use Picassa all the time! Have a great day. M


  2. Hi Girasoli, wow you did such a great job putting taking all of these wonderful photos and putting together the album. I really enjoyed looking at all of the chapels and the interiors. I have been really enjoying your posts from your trip and I hope to one day visit Stressa and Orta San Giulio soon…. I wanted to let you know that I read your Stressa post and enjoyed it so much but for some reason I couldn’t post a comment on it. Thanks also for writing that post too.
    Great photos! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. Have a great day today!


  3. What a cool place. I’d love to visit it too. 900 frescoes! I love the architecture of all of them, esp. VII. Love that painting of St. Claire on the altar. Great photo album!


  4. You did a good job of documenting your visit to Sacro Monte d’Orta Web Album. Wow, lots of chapels Your photo album is very informative. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Sandra, thanks!
    menehune, the web albums are an extension of a gmail account. There may be another way to make a Picasa Web Album, but I am only aware of doing it through my gmail account. Let me know if I can be of more assistance. It really is easy to do.
    Kathy, glad you enjoyed my album. It was such a cool place to visit. I think you would love it! Candi left a comment on another post about there not being a comment option for my last Stresa post. Not sure what happened as I did the post just like all the others. I did go back and fix it but not until I realized there was a problem a few days later.
    Annie, it was so cool! I could have taken tons more photos but I was at the end of my trip and running out of memory cards. I was not able to get far enough back to get the entire chapel for some of the chapels. There was so much to see and take in. I wish I had more time that day. I would love to go back there again one day.
    maya, thanks! I was excited to find all the information sheets. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much without the.


  6. What a wonderful post, Girasoli! You must have spent several hours visiting all of these chapels, they look absolutely lovely. The mix of frescos and statues is intriguing, and the information posted to explain how each chapel corresponded to some important point in the life of St. Francis was very interesting. I did not know he was born in a stable — I think there was some artistic license taken there!
    A wonderful photo album, thanks for sharing!


  7. Fantastic, love the album! I am just learning how to use Picasa web albums, hadn’t though of linking them to my blog posts – what a great idea, thanks!!
    I like taking photos of the description plaques too, find that otherwise I forget the details.


  8. sandra, thanks! Unfortunately I only had about two hours. I would have liked to have spent an entire day there. I also wish I had read up on this place before visiting. I had no clue it even existed until I arrived in Orta San Giulio. I thought about you while visiting Sacro Monte knowing how much you would enjoy visiting these chapels.
    Anne, glad you enjoyed my album :) You can also embed slideshows from the Picasa Web Albums. I have done this on a few occasions, but this time I thought it would be easier to go straight to the album where the photos could be viewed on a larger scale. Since the age of digital cameras, I always try to take photos of the info provided. I also sometimes take photos of the streets and landmarks, sort of like breadcrumbs so that I won’t get lost.


  9. When I clicked on your link for your Picasa album, the link says the album is expired. My fiance and I are getting married in the Church of the Saints Nicholas and Francesco next July (and visiting Orta San Giulio in November), but we would love to see more information on the chapels prior to our visit!


  10. Hi Michele,
    I realized last weekend that many of my photos that were in my Picasa albums are not showing up on my blogs (also have a private older personal trip report album). I have not had time to figure out what is going on but do plan to try to figure this all out as soon as I find the time.
    If I took a photo of this church, I will try to add a photo of the Church of the Saints Nicholas and Francesco on this blog post as soon as I have time (in the next week or two). Sorry, crazy time for me right now.
    EDITED to add… I have fixed my Picasa albums. I did notice that there are no photos of the church in the album. I took some video I am trying to locate. Will try to do a post on the church soon.


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