The Church of Santa Maria in Ca’ Deserta is one of the historic churches of Laveno. Although nothing is known of its origins, the church has been at the centre of a number of historical events.
It was first mentioned in a text of 1081 which stated that in the same year it was donated to the monastery of Cluny. Before the 15th century it was elevated to the status of parish church and was a place of burial, up to the 17th century when the title of Parish church was given to the Church of St James and St Philip. Following the Napoleonic edict of Saint Cloud in 1796 it was again permitted to be used for burials, the only exclusive function it still retains today. During the occupation by the Austrians in the 19th century (1848-59) it was used as a powder magazine.
The façade as it appears today is the result of reconstruction work performed in 1756; however, on that occasion the original 17th century façade was retained, as is clear from features still present today: at the sides of the entrance there are two frescoed lunettes, on the right one from the 17th century depicting St John the Evangelist, on the left one whose characteristics typical of the late 14th-early15th centuries suggest it belonged to the original Romanesque church. On the square in front of the church are the shrines of the Via Crucis with ceramic tiles (1990) by the artist Oreste Quattrini.
A statue of Our Lady of the Assumption, to whom the church is dedicated, stands on the wooden Baroque high altar in the interior. The side altars are dedicated to St John the Baptist and the Holy Cross.