There were very few passages through the Alps that link northern Italy to Rome. Because of this the city of Varese saw thousands of pilgrims on their way to and from Rome. In Varese you will find a centuries old path leading to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria. On this 1.6 mile path you will find 14 chapels designed by Giuseppe Bernascone which were constructed between 1604 and 1623. They are arranged in three groups, each group has a specific rosary. Each chapel within those groups contains colorful life size terracotta statues corresponding to one of the rosary’s mysteries.
The journey starts with the Chapel dedicated to Immaculate Conception, 5 chapels dedicated to the "Joyful Mysteries" follow this. Next you will find the chapels of "Sorrowful Mysteries" and lastly the chapels of "Glorious Mysteries." The last chapel on the pilgrimage, number 15, is the chapel of the Coronation of Mary and is located within the Sanctuary of Santa Maria.
Unfortunately you cannot enter any of the chapels, but only look through the windows. The beautifully decorated frescoes, murals, and statues on the interiors are by some of the finest painters and scultours of the 1600’s, including Mazzucchelli, Prestinari, Nuvolone, and Ghiandone.