Sacro Monte di San Carlo

Lake Maggiore West Bank

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. A church and three chapels were built, along with a special extra: a gigantic hollow 35m bronze-and-copper statue of the saint completed in 1698, 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 nostrils).

It’s a bit of a vertiginous ascent up a long ladder-like staircase (vertigo sufferers should give it a miss) 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. Entry to the church is free.

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 northwest from Piazza del Popolo.

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