Santa Caterina of the Dancing Rock, Italy

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Italy, Lake Maggiore, Ispra, North Italy, Italy art

Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro, Italy. Oil Pastel on paper, 14 x 21 inches

A Picturesque Corner of Italy’s Lake District 

Painted from a moment I captured on Lake Maggiore two years ago on a two-month trip in northern Italy. One of the most interesting places I’ve ever been. Off the standard tourist circuit and along the rim of Italy’s boot lives its Lake District, named after glacial lakes formed at the end of the last Ice Age. For all the massive tourism and consequent pick-pocketing in its big cities, here lie quiet pockets of Italy the world has yet to pick.

An Interesting History 

Meet Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro or Santa Caterina of the Dancing Rock. A 12th century hermitage that hugs the side of this cliff as if carved from it. Founded by a merchant Alberto Besozzi, who almost died in a shipwreck on Lake Maggiore one stormy night and then went on to live as a hermit here for the rest of his days, moved by the miracle of his survival. The non-indulgence may not be very Italian but the unpredictability definitely is. Way off the standard tourist circuit, this place and all the small towns skirting Lake Maggiore are wonderful to explore. For more on Italy’s Lake District, head over to A Dip in Italy’s Lake District. For money-saving tips culled from my 2-month Italy-Germany-Slovenia trip, go to Big Adventures, Small Budgets.

Here’s to Every Bedevilled Detail

Feels so good to return to full-fledged painting after a decade (!) and to work with my favorite medium, oil pastels. Took me a while to get re-acquainted with all its quirks and techniques but once I did, it all felt unstoppable. The details were endless in the photo I’d taken on an 8 EUR boat ride over Lake Maggiore. As someone said, the devil is in the detail and I loved losing track of time and my to-do lists with every bedevilled detail in this scene.

If you have any suggestions for what I might paint next, or if you’d like to buy this painting or prints of it, or if you’d like to commission a painting, drop me a line at namitayoga@ Hope to get cracking on another world of details and pigments soon 🤩 

Connect with me on Instagram @radicallyeverafter & Facebook Radically Ever After for updates on my everyday shenanigans and more travel & art inspiration 🙂 

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19 Responses

  1. Nutan says:

    Such an exquisite painting! Love the background too

  2. Jackie S. says:

    Your oil pastel artwork of Lake Maggiore is beautiful! You’ve inspired me to visit this place in the future. How long did it take for you to complete this artwork? After seeing thousands of photos shared on social media of travel photos, it’s refreshing to see a painted view of a location.

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Thank you so much Jackie! Hope you do visit someday! It took me about a week to complete this painting but those 7 days were spread out over the entire year because I had 4 big trips this year 🙂 So glad you found it refreshing to see a painted view, I definitely want to keep painting 🙂

  3. Wow, you painted this? It is beautiful, I am really impressed. I haven’t been to Lake Maggiore so I do not know what it looks like however, if it is anything close to the painting then it must be a gorgeous place to visit!

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Thank you so much Medha! It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and I’m glad I could capture some of that magic here 🙂

  4. Wow that is an insanely beautiful painting! I’m really inspired to visit this place some day in the future, it looks so beautiful! Doesn’t seem like too bad of a place for a guy to live out his life as a hermit 🙂

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Haha yes indeed a pretty great place to get away from the world, isn’t it? Thank you so much for the kind words Erika and yes do visit this place when you’re in or around northern Italy 🙂

  5. federica says:

    Lovely oil pastel of a pretty location. How many time have you spent there to realize it?

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Thank you Federica! I took a picture on the ferry to this place and some small towns that skirt the lake, and then it took me about a week’s work at home to make the painting. Painting on location would’ve been wonderful but this view was from a rather wobbly ferry 🙂

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Your painting is beautiful, you are so talented! It’s such a great ida to start a post off with a painting, instead of a photo!

  7. Congratulations on a beautiful painting and for returning to painting after 10 years. And thanks for capturing something a little different from Italy than what we normally see.

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Thank you Nicole! Glad to share a lesser known corner of Italy, especially one that I so loved visiting 🙂 So good to return to painting and to this place through it 🙂

  8. Oh wow, you made this painting of Lake Maggiore in such a beautiful way. I am really intrigued by the painting. It is actually lesser known place of Italy but I remember my friend telling me they visited the place from Milan and then headed to Venice. This looks like a dreamland. You paint really well.

  9. I really like tge end result and my hat’s off to you for finishing it. I always start paintings but never finish a canvas. If i’m painting walls, lamps or flower pots, it takes long, but i finish them.

  10. Daniel says:

    What a beautiful painting! I could never paint anything remotely close to that, mostly because I suck at it but really wow. Glad to know you have some other talents apart from writing.

  11. An important event took place at the beginning of the h century, when five enormous ballerini ( dancing ) boulders crashed down onto the Church, but came to a halt in the vault of a chapel, without causing any serious damage, and remaining suspended there for almost two centuries, until 1910. These traballanti ( unsteady ) rocks would appear to have given the name to the Hermitage, the full name of which is Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro (Santa Maria of the Dancing Rock), although the more probable etymology of the name is associated with the nearby town of Ballarate.

    • Namita Kulkarni says:

      Ah interesting 🙂 I’d never come across that back story before so thank you Maja for sharing. Sounds like a really close call that those rocks did not damage the structure!

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