Sacro Monte di San Carlo

Landmark in Arona

When Milan's superstar bishop San Carlo Borromeo (1538–84) was declared a saint in 1610, his cousin Federico ordered the creation of a sacro monte in his memory, featuring 15 chapels lining a path to a church. The church and three of those chapels were built, along with a special extra: a hollow 35m bronze-and-copper statue of the saint. Commonly known as the Sancarlone (Big St Charles) you can climb up inside it to discover spectacular views through the giant's eyes (and even ears).

It’s a bit of a vertiginous ascent (up a long ladder-like staircase) and children under six years old are not allowed up. There's a small garden surrounding the statue, with panels explaining key episodes of Borromeo's life.

To reach this hill, with nice views over the south end of Lake Maggiore and across to the Rocca di Angera, walk or drive about 2km west from Piazza del Popolo.


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