Have you ever observed a magnificent lake panorama looking through the ear some? If you still lack experience, the possibility is there, and it is located an hour's motorway from Milan. In Arona (fraction of Ghévio) is in fact there statue of Saint-Charles Borromeo, the 35 meter high colossus built between 1614 and 1697 with copper plates.

Arona, the statue of San Carlo Borromeo (iStock)

Originally, it was planned that the statue, completed in 1698, would be part of a Sacred Mountain of which only three chapels were built. However, the Sancarlone (as the inhabitants of Arone colloquially call it) dominates the Lake Maggiore, it is one of the tallest statues in the world, and can be visited internally up to the top, in correspondence with the eyes, nostrils and ears where some are located. openings which allow an exceptional panoramic view (it can be visited all year round except in January and February).

Where is Arona and how to get there

In Roman times, the via Severiana Augusta, the consular road which connected Milan on Lake Maggiore (which was called at the time Verbanus Lacus), and from there it reaches the Simplon pass. Today, Arona is accessible by the Laghi motorway (A8 towards Varese, then A26 towards Gravellona Toce), one hour from Milan, half an hour from Novara, but it is also well served by train (Milan -Domodossola line).

The town of Arona and Lake Maggiore seen from the Rocca (iStock)

When to visit Arona

Arona is an ideal stopover in late spring as it is a pleasure to immerse yourself in the lake waters after sunbathing on one of the many public beaches or jogging on the recently built gymnastics track. A few months ago, the cycle path that connects Arona to Dormelletto and half of which runs along the lake was also opened (it starts from the central Piazza del Popolo.

What to see in Arona

The first Sunday of the month attracts tourists and the curious go to the antiques market entitled Memories from the attic which takes place on the banks of Lake Arona: around a hundred exhibitors and a magnificent setting for one of the most popular bazaars in northern Italy where it is still possible to do some good deals, particularly with objects vintage (next meeting Sunday May 5).

From the old People's Square (where you can see the remains of the military port) begins Corso Cavour, the “shopping street” which crosses the entire historic center of Arona, where the windows of historical and fashion boutiques overlook.

People's Square in Arona (iStock)

Art and religious devotion have found their place in Arona over the centuries. On the Piazza del Popolo overlooks the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto (also known as Santa Marta): at the end of 1592, thanks to the intervention of Margherita Trivulzio Borromeo and her son Federico, not yet a cardinal, the first stone was laid for the construction of the church that would house within it a reproduction of the real one from the Holy House of Loreto. Along the exterior walls of the House of Loreto, within the niches, are sixteen statues depicting prophets and sibyls dating from around the beginning of the 18th century.

The Church of the Holy Martyrs (or San Graziano) in Arona (iStock)

A long epigraph on the two white marble facade slabs of the Church of the Holy Martyrs recalls the events of the relics of Saints Gratian and Felinus, Perugian soldiers martyred under the emperor Decius, given to Arona (when Otto II was emperor and placed in 1489 under the new altar. But the highlight is the altarpiece with the enthroned Madonna and saints (around 1488) by Ambrogio da Fossano known as Bergognone which dominates the choir.

The Rocca d'Angera seen from the Rocca d'Arona (iStock)

Those who want to get away from the lakeside nightlife can get there on foot or by car. Arona Fortress which rises above the historic center and dominates it from above. Here you can find all that remains of the walls and towers built to fortify the village from 1447: it is not much, because Napoleon in 1801 gave the order to demolish the castle, but the position – right in front of the another fortress, that of Angera – is suggestive and you can picnic peacefully on the grass in front of an immense horizon which, on a clear day, extends to the mountains of Switzerland.

The port of Arona (iStock)

Where to eat and drink in Arona

Don't miss the desserts Marietta Pastry (via Francesco Baracca 52): cute fresh pastries, all strictly gluten free.

If you are a cheese connoisseur or even just a foodie, come see us Guffanti Shop (via Milano 140): producers since 1876, they also sell online, and by appointment it is possible to visit the maturing cellars.

If you are simply greedy for chocolate, the address is there Secular factory (via Vittorio Veneto 102), company specialized in the production of gianduiotti, nougat and Easter eggs, founded in Arona in 1946.

At aperitif time, you can enjoy the most spectacular places along the lake, such as the Evening coffee (excellent cocktails), Papi Brewery (craft beer and excellent charcuterie), theWine merchant Simonotti (Winebar since 1971), or lo Speakeasy (under splendid plane trees, it is called Liquidbar) all with outdoor tables in the pedestrian zone.

The boat at the Arona pier (iStock)

Where to sleep in Arona

At this point, if you want to stop in Arona to start sightseeing again the next day, perhaps taking the boat that connects to the other side of the lake in 10 minutes but also takes you to the splendid Borromean Islands in half a hour. hour you can spend the night in the very central center Hotel with garden (3 stars) or Atlantic Hotel (4 stars, near the station), or in some B&Bs nearby: we recommend it to shopaholics Villa Jejia in Lesa (via Sempione, 95) because it is located very close to the exit of the Herno (via Sempione, 87, open every day except Monday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.).

Last but not least, an ice cream: a must for the variety of flavors, a cone Marcella Glacier (corso Repubblica 16), but the delicacy to try is The Milky Way (corso della Repubblica 98): choose the flavor that gives its name to the store: it's a semifreddo made with cream and hazelnuts that's hard to match.

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Arona, the Sacro Monte chapel with Lake Maggiore in the background (iStock)

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