La Darbia blog


Thu, 26 April 2018
A colourful stroll, a colossal statue and an air acrobatics show over the lake are among the surprises Arona has in store for its visitors. It is always a great idea to go for a walk around Arona, that splendid town on the southernmost tip of Lake Maggiore, situated exactly where the lake coastline..

A colourful stroll, a colossal statue and an air acrobatics show over the lake are among the surprises Arona has in store for its visitors.

It is always a great idea to go for a walk around Arona, that splendid town on the southernmost tip of Lake Maggiore, situated exactly where the lake coastline narrows and the river Ticino flows out. Originally a fishing village owned by the noble Visconti family from Milan, Arona was soon turned into a feudal fortification with a castle and port, surrounded by a rampart. Its history was closely interwoven with that of the Borromeo family and, in fact, San Carlo or Saint Charles Borromeo was born in the castle in 1538.

Even nowadays the most famous and visited mounument in the city of Arona is, undoubtedly, that colossal statue built at the end of the 1600s in honour of the saint. The so-called “Sancarlone”, at 35 metres in height, was the tallest statue in the world for over two centuries. Its sculptor Bartholdi deliberately travelled to Arona in order to study how to bring into effect his plan for a Statue of liberty.

It is an incredible experience to climb up to the top of this colossus: by means of some spiral steps and a steep vertical staircase with a safety enclosure you can reach the saint's head, from where you can look out through holes representing the eyes, nostrils and ears of the statue. As you can well imagine the surrounding scenery is spectacular.

The entire Rocca park affords a wonderful view: what was once a medieval fortress atop a white cliff overlooking the city, later to be destroyed by Napoleon's army, has become a green area connected to the town centre by a little train, which provides for a scenic trip in comfort.

The historic centre of Arona is a cluster of entangled little streets situated on the edge of elegant corso Cavour, where a thousand coloured umbrellas have hung and welcomed visitors in recent months. It is actually the third edition of #UnderColoursArona, an installation of brightly coloured umbrellas, dangling and waving in the air, to embellish the city and to herald the arrival of the warmest season of the year. Five hundred metres of sheer joy makes shopping in this central pedestrianised street, flanked by numerous boutiques with their inviting window displays, a jolly experience.

There is a delightful, relaxing walk along the lake among flower beds, games for children and a very long wooden bench with seating for up 250 people: sitting facing the calm Verbano waters, the famous Rocca of Angera (Borromeo Castle) stands out impressively on the Lombard shore of the lake.

Arona is also famous for its magnificent villas with their spacious, colourful gardens. Perhaps the best known is Villa Ponti, which hosts art exhibitions of works by distinguished masters such as Picasso and Kandinsky. Conventions, event receptions and concerts of classical music are also held in this elegant mansion and fortification, built around the year 1760 on the wishes of a wealthy merchant and Napoleon supporter. The famous French general himself was a guest in the villa on his return from the unsuccessful Egyptian campaign.

Villa Cantoni and its suggestive artificial caves and Villa Zuccoli erected on the foundations of a 17th century convent both offer splendid views over the lake from their precious gardens of exotic plants and century old trees.

The most eagerly awaited appointment of the summer in Arona is the AronairShow, that is, the air acrobatics show by Frecce Tricolori, the national aerobatic team of the Italian military Air Force, which will tinge the sky above Lake Maggiore with green, white and red colours. This spectacular event will attract thousands of spectators to Arona between Saturday June 30th (date of the trials ) and Sunday July 1st luglio (date of the official display) when heads will be tilted upwards to admire the awesome somersaults by the pilots who are Italy's pride and joy and always leave a trail of unforgettable emotion!

As I said at the beginning: what with events, art and nature, Arona is always a good idea … well worth discovering.

I had almost forgotten to make a few recommendations to all those who love good food … something you simply must taste the crêpes and ice cream at “Gelateria Marcella” and try the aperitif at “Strobino”; the pizza at Nautica is delicious and so is dinner at “da Aldo” and don't miss the wine bar “Il grappolo”.

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