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Sacro Monte di San Carlo ad Arona

28041 ARONA (NO)

Charles Borromeo was born on October 2, 1538 in the castle that stood on the Rocca of Arona (Fortress of Arona), later destroyed by Napoleon. In 1610, only 25 years before his death, he was proclaimed Saint. His cousin, Federico Borromeo, the cardinal spoken of in "I Promessi Sposi"(The Betrothed) – become his successor as Archbishop of Milan – he desired that a “Sacro Monte” (sacred mountain), the exceptional greatness of which to be celebrated, would rise in Arona. The original project provided for the construction of fifteen chapels that, climbing from the lake up to the current public square, visually narrating the most important events of the life of the Saint by means of statues and frescoes. In the course of the 17th century only a few chapels were completed due to both wars and economic poverty; currently three of them have been conserved in their architectural structure.
The "Sacro Monte" concluded with the Church dedicated to the Saint, in the apse of which a "saccellum of relics" had to recall his birth.
The Church, planned by the famous architect Francesco Richini, was completed in the first half of the following century. Ever-commissioned by Cardinal Federico Borromeo and by the Oblate Marco Aurelio Grattarola, who supervised the works on the hill, they planned to realize a colossal statue of Saint Carlo, visible also from the lake, which could pass down through the centuries the greatness of the figure of the Holy Archbishop from Milan. The design of Giovanni Cespi Batiste, called the Cerano, was realized with hammered copper slabs put together with nails and iron rods by the sculptors Siro Zanella of Pavia and Bernardo Falcoli of Lugano. The work was concluded in 1698.


From March 16th to October 25th

9:00 – 12:30

14:30 – 18:00

From October 26th to March 15th only Saturday and/or Sunday

9:15 – 12:30

14:00 – 16:45


Piazza San Carlo - 28041 Arona - Novara

Telephone 0322/249669

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