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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

San Carlo Borromeo Statue

Hey big guy! I have to say that every time I see this statue in Arona. Because this guy is big. How big you ask? He’s 36 meters (115 feet) tall. His arm is 9.1 meters long (30 feet), the thumb 1.4 meters (4.5 feet). That’s big. Even more impressive when you consider that he was built in 1697. Giovanni Battisti Crespi designed the giant statue and then had it constructed on a hill overlooking Arona and Lago Maggiore. There is a hollow concrete core over which copper plates were joined together to form the body. The head and arm, however, are made of bronze. Up until the time the Statue of Liberty was built in 1885, this was the tallest statue in the world, and also the tallest enterable monument. That’s right. You can go inside the statue and, by climbing a series of steep and scary stairs, a jumble of iron and wood, reach the windows in the eyes and ears, for a view of the town and the lake.


Who da man! San Carlo Borromeo is the man, that’s who. Carlo was a nephew of Pope Pius IV, and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who lived from 1538 to 1584. The colossus was meant to be part of a large complex of buildings celebrating the life of Carlone, big Carlo, as he is sometimes affectionately called, but ultimately only three chapels were completed.


In the center of Arona, in Corso Cavour, there is another, much smaller version of the statue, he’s called Carlino, little Carlo. But man oh man, you should go see the big guy.
















Views of the interior of the statue.


Arona is 22 km to the west of Stresa by car, about a 25 minute car trip, or take a boat for the 40-minute ride.


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