A piece of the Middle Ages in the province of Varese
In the municipality of Gornate Olona, in the province of Varese, the Monastery of Torba is among Lombardy’s most fascinating and evocative places. It is a stage of the Via Francisca del Lucomagno, a path that starts in Constance, crosses Switzerland and arrives in Pavia, passing through numerous places of interest including the Sacro Monte in Varese.
The monumental complex dates back to the 5th century AD, when the Romans built a military outpost in the area to defend against barbarians. After a long decline, it was restored by the Italian Environment Fund (FAI) and is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological park.
The late Roman tower remains one of the monastery’s main attractions. Used by the small monastic community as a chapel and mausoleum, it houses rare and ancient frescoes cloaked in wonder and awe. Legend says the missing faces of the three nuns depicted on one of the walls were never completed because they escaped from the monastery and that, today, the women’s spirits wander the valleys of Torba seeking peace.