One of the most spectacular sacred places of Lake Orta is surely the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rock (Madonna del Sasso) built near the hamlet of the same name on a huge granite rock-face overhanging the lake below. From here, there is an unsurpassed view dominating Lake Orta and the mountains on the eastern shore of the lake, including Mount Mottarone.
This sacred complex, built in the early 1700s, on the site of a previous late medieval chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, is made up of the church, the bell-tower and the Priest’s House. The church, shaped like a Greek cross with circular apse is topped by a huge frescoed dome which projects an inlaid star onto the floor. The interior also houses a large pictorial cycle by Lorenzo Peracino, a painter and sculptor from Valsesia, who left evidence of his great talent in numerous churches in the Cusio and Ossola area.
The high altar has a splendid Deposition of Christ dating from 1547, painted by Fermo Stella da Caravaggio, a pupil of Gaudenzio Ferrari. Of particular interest is the monumental 16th century organ which has 700 pipes and a keyboard of 58 keys.
The Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso is the finishing point of the hiking trail called Le Valli della Fede (The Valleys of Faith), an itinerary which links the minor sanctuaries of the Central and Eastern Biella area with Lake Orta. This route is inspired by the one taken by Saint Charles Borromeo presumably several times during the years in which he was archbishop of Milan (1565-1584).