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.”
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.