Map of Goldach for The route, known as the Via Sacra a broad, leafy path, still with its original cobbles and boasting fine views is these days used as much by Sunday walkers as by devotees praying at each chapel. The path rises steeply, gaining 260m over a distance of 2.2km. The start lies 5km north of Varese, accessed via Viale Aguggiari and marked by the Primo Arco (First Arch) and Prima Cappella (First Chapel). All the chapels are locked; to see inside press the light switch and peer through the window. At the top, the path ends at a bombastic nineteenth-century Statue of Moses, above which rise the blank walls of a convent that has housed a closed community of nuns since 1492. The convent church, Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte (daily 8am noon & 2 6pm) rebuilt in 1474 over the remnants of a fourth-century original is accessed from a small piazza bearing a statue of Pope Paul VI. Its Baroque interior holds a revered medieval Black Madonna in wood, while the adjacent Cappella delle Beate houses the shrine of Caterina and Giuliana, two local girls who founded the convent. A concealed upper corridor allows the nuns to pray unseen. Map of Goldach 2016.
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