Carlo Borromeo was born on October 2nd 1538 in the castle that once stood on the Rocca di Arona ( The rock towering above Arona) and was later on destroyed by Napoleon.
Carlo died in 1585 and in 1610 he was proclaimed saint.His cousin. Federico Borromeo after succeeding him as Archbishop of Milan, wanted a “Sacro Monte” to be built in Arona to celebrate his greatness.
15 chapels were planned to narrate the most important events in the life of saint Charles but by 1600 only a few had been completed due to wars and the lack of finance.
The giant statue of Saint Carlo which can be seen from miles around was built to hand down to posterity in the course of ages the greatness of the saint Archbishop of Milan.
The statue was designed by Giovan Battista Crespi and was made of wrought copper sheets held together by nails and iron tie beams. It was built by the sculptors Siro Zanella from Pavia and Bernardo Falconi from Lugano. The monument was finished in 1698
A few statistics
The total height is 35.00 metres
The statue stands 23.50 metres and the base is 11.50 metres.
It is possible to climb all the way to the top. The balcony at the top of the base section is reached by an exterior spiral staircase. The remaining 35 metres to the head of the statue involves a climb up a ladder. With the sun beating down on the copper and the lack of ventilation it can get very hot inside. Best not to even attempt it. I climbed up to the balcony to get a panoramic view of Lake Maggiore.
The photo above is three images stitched together.
The statue was immense but the face looked a bit strange. The ears seemed out of proportion to the rest of the face, as if they had been added on as an afterthought.
No time for a drink as it was time to get back on the coach for the short journey back to Stresa for the last night of our holiday.