Aix-en-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France

Aix-en-Provence is a French commune, ex-capital of Provence, headquarter of the Community of agglomeration of Aix, in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur; founded in 122 BC. This is a spa town with a Mediterranean climate that has around 300 days of sunshine a year. The town is 33 km from Marseille. There are three rivers which cross it: the Arc, the Touloubre and the Torso. In its historic center, there are several buildings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the city counts with 140 historical monuments. To visit: St-Sauveur Cathedral with triptychs, altarpieces and remarkable tapestries, the cloister of St-Sauveur (late twelfth century), the Town Hall and the square of the same name with the clock tower, the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of St John of Malta, Des Quatre Dauphins Square, the Tourreluque (single vestige of the medieval walls), the fountains, among others. Outside the city there are also other historical monuments like the Bridge of Trois-Sautets or the Bridge of St-Pons,

Tips

You can explore the city and the countryside by bus, there are 26 regular lines.
If you want to go to Marseille or Gap, you can do it by train from the Aix-en-Provence center train station. If you arrive at the airport of Marseille, it is a good option to get to the city center.
There is also the TGV to 18 km from the city center for more remote destinations.

 

Colossus of St. Charles Borromeo, Arona, Italy

The Colossus of St. Charles Borromeo (said Sancarlone) is a statue of over 30 meters high located in Arona on the Sacro Monte of San Carlo, considered a symbol of the city. San Carlo Borromeo was born on October, 2nd, 1538 in Rocca di Arona and in 1565 he became archbishop of Milan and he gave material and spiritual assistance especially during calamities such as famine and plague. He died in 1584 and was beatified in 1602 and canonized in 1610. In 1624 the works for the construction of a sacred hill and also a huge statue visible from Lake Maggiore which celebrates the memory of the saint, were started. It was designed by Giovanni Battista Crespi and was built with copper sheets hammered and assembled with nails and iron rods while the head and hands were made of bronze; being Bernardo Falconi of Bissone and Siro Zanella of Pavia, the sculptors. In 1698 it was finished and blessed. The statue is 23.40 meters tall, but it has a granite pedestal of 11.70 meters which make it one of the largest statues in the world and the monument can be visited inside. With this statue they wanted to represent the “gigantism in faith.”

Tips

The statue is open to the public, you can climb through a first spiral staircase and then another right as a stepladder to get inside the head of St. Charles. You can pay general access to get to the foot of the statue and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view that it is really worth or add a few euros to go up to the interior top. For children under 6 it’s free.
From Milan you can reach Arona by train on the Milan-Domodossola line.
If you have to wait a few hours to catch a plane, it is a good opportunity to go to know the statue because Malpensa airport is located only 23 km from Arona.