Arona, Province of Novara, Piedmont

This fine tourist resort 38 km from Novara, along the south-western banks of Lake Maggiore, the town has a splendid lakefront, starting from the Piazza del Popolo; from Arona, which is the southernmost port on Lake Maggiore it is possible to travel by boat or hydrofoil to other ports on the lake, and also on the Swiss bank.


  • Altitude: 212 m a.s.l
  • Surface area: 15,17 sq km
  • Population: about 14,000 inhabitants in 2018
  • Population Density: 918 inhabitants per sq km
  • Zip/postal code: 28041
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0322
  • Patron Saint: St. Graziano, celebrated on 13 March
  • Frazioni & Localities: Campagna, Dagnente, Mercurago, Montrigiasco.


Archaeological findings in Lagoni near Mercurago document the existence of a population living on palafict huts already in the 18th century BC. In later centuries the area was colonized by Celts, Roman and Lombards. In 1162 during the war of the Lombard League against Frederick Barbarossa Arona hosted many refugees. It was a fiefdom of the Torriani family, then passed in 1277 to the Visconti and in 1439 to the Borromeo family.

Arona was the native place of San Carlo Borromeo, born on 2 october 1538 in the Rocca di Arona, who was made a bishop at only 22 years of age; a great benefactor especially at moments of great need, as famines and plagues, he died in 1584 and was made a saint in 1610.

What to see

  • The 14th-century Casa del Podestà.
  • The church of Madonna della Piazza, designed in 1592 by architect Pellegrino Pellegrini, who authored many projects for Cardinal Carlo Borromeo.
  • The 11th-century church of Santissimi Martiri Graziano and Felino, with a painting representing the Virgin Mary made by Guglielmo Cortese, nicknamed Borgognone
  • The church of the Nativity of Santa Maria Vergine, preserving a fine polyptich by Gaudenzio Ferrari (ca.1475 - 1546) and paintings on the life of St Charles Borromeo by Cesare Nebbia.
  • The ruins on a hill at top of the town of the Rocca of Arona, one of the castles built around the Lake by the Borromeo family, and destroyed on an order of Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • 2.5 km to the northwest, the Sancarlone, a huge statue in copper and bronze, representing San Carlo Borromeo. The statue (called Colosso di San Carlo in Italian) rises for total 36 meters (24.50 is the statue and 11.70 m its base) and can be visited inside. Finished in 1698, for centuries was the highest statue in the world, and it seems the architects of of the Statue of Liberty studied its projects.

Where to stay

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