Arona (Aruna in Lombard) is an Italian town of 13 930 inhabitants in the province of Novara in Piedmont. Fifth city in the province by population, today it is a tourist-tertiary center on the shores of Lake Maggiore, whose development has been favored by its position on the Via del Sempione and by the convenient connection with Milan (motorway and railway).

The municipality is home to the Lagoni di Mercurago Natural Park, one of the "prehistoric pile-dwelling sites around the Alps", which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.


How to orient yourself

The most touristic part of Arona, develops along the shores of Lake Maggiore. The Marconi lakefront offers a panoramic pedestrian route from the railway station, along the way you come across the tourist office and a little further on, beyond the pleasant equipped park, the landing stage for navigation on the lake, following the lakefront you reach Piazza del Popolo , the oldest square in the city in which the Broletto buildings and the ancient church of Santa Maria di Loreto stand out. Numerous restaurants overlook the arcades of the square.

Alternatively, you can enter what the locals call "il corso" or Corso Cavour, a narrow pedestrian street on which there are shops, ice cream parlors and other clubs. Parallel to Corso Cavour is Piazza San Graziano, from the staircase you reach the Romanesque church of the Santi Martiri. In Piazza San Graziano there is also the Civic Archaeological Museum which houses interesting finds from the Golasecca culture.

From Piazza del Popolo, the rocky outcrop on which the remains of the Rocca di Arona are located is clearly visible, from which you can enjoy a beautiful panorama over the lower Verbano area.



Collegiate Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The current parish church, whose first contract for its construction dates back to 1468, was consecrated, not yet finished, on 12 March 1488. At the beginning of the 17th century, Cardinal Federico Borromeo ordered massive restoration and interior decoration works. at the end of which, on 10 March 1608, the church was erected as a collegiate church. After the substantial repairs of 1856-1867 it was rededicated in 1858 by the bishop G. F. Gentile. It is in the Gothic-Byzantine style, altered by later elements. The limestone stone façade, with a central rose window, has fifteenth-century elements, and a notable bas-relief of the Nativity of the Redeemer, by Luca Beltrami ascribed to the Mantegazza brothers, authors of the lower part of the Certosa di Pavia. Inside you can admire the high altar built in 1812 to a design by Abbot Zanoia; the Holy Family of Gaudenzio Ferrari in six fields, with the signature Gaudentius Vincius and the date '15', on wood and enclosed in a carved frame of the time; the Nativity by Andrea Appiani; the Annunciation and the Marriage of Francesco Mazzucchelli known as Morazzone, donated by Cardinal Federico Borromeo. There are also four reliquaries that contain the pallium, the miter, the crosier of San Carlo Borromeo donated by Cardinal Federico. They were renewed in 1920 by the Aronese citizenship in fulfillment of a vow made during the last flu pandemic, which was deemed to have ceased through the saint's intercession.
Church of the holy martyrs Graziano, Felino, Fedele and Carpoforo (also known as San Graziano). Formerly a Benedictine abbey, the church was annexed to the monastery of the Savior and of the Saints Graziano and Felino, founded in the second half of the 10th century. No traces remain of the original building. Completely rebuilt, it was returned to worship the year following that of the consecration of the Collegiate, 1489. In the church there is an altarpiece of the Madonna Enthroned and Saint by Ambrogio da Fossano, known as Bergognone, hanging behind the main altar. The painting was commissioned by the abbot of the time, Monsignor Girolamo Calagrani, who in the painting appears kneeling in front of the Virgin.
Church of Santa Maria di Loreto (also known as Santa Marta) in the ancient Piazza del Popolo, where the Broletto and what remains of the ancient port are also located.
Church of the Visitation, annexed to the monastery of the order of the Visitation, was founded in 1652 by the archpriest Graziano Ponzone. On the main altar of the church there is a canvas by the painter Gaudenzio Magistrini (1820-1871).
Beolchi Chapel
Sanctuary of the Sacro Monte di San Carlo
Visitation Monastery
Church of San Giuseppe, formerly dedicated to Sant'Eusebio
Parish Church of San Giusto (in the Montrigiasco district)
Church of Santa Maria di Loreto (also known as Santa Marta)
Church of San Giovanni Battista (in the hamlet of Dagnente)
Church of San Giorgio (in Mercurago)
Church of the Holy Trinity
Church of the Sacred Heart
Church of Saints Anna and Gioacchino, in Corso Cavour (erected in 1721, with a facade rebuilt in 1841; altarpiece by Giuseppe De Albertis, from Arona, with Saints Anna and Joachim with Mary as a young girl)


Civil and military architectures

Broletto or Palace of Justice, built at the end of the fourteenth century on the ancient Piazza del Popolo, where the church of Santa Maria di Loreto also stands. Between the Gothic arches of the portico are terracotta medallions with portraits of the nobles ruling the city.
Villa Ponti, which hosted Napoleon Bonaparte on his return from the Egyptian countryside and in which classical music concerts and exhibitions of important artists are currently organized.
Villa Leuthold, a nineteenth-century public park with huge specimens of camellias.
Rocca Borromea, whose ruins are located on the hill overlooking the city. It was historically disputed between the Torriani and the Visconti as well as the birthplace of San Carlo.
Asilo Bottelli, a nineteenth century neoclassical style building originally used as a kindergarten.
Villa Cantoni, built in the 1880s.

The Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo
This statue, nicknamed the Sancarlone, dominates Lake Maggiore and can be reached by taking the provincial road 35 to the hamlet of Ghevio di Meina, in the San Carlo area. The colossus is about 35 meters high (23.40 m the statue and 11.70 m the base) and was built between 1614 and 1697 with copper plates. Originally it was expected that the statue, completed in 1698, was part of a Sacro Monte of which only three chapels were built.


Getting here

By plane
The nearest airport is Milan Malpensa (Somma Lombardo) which is about 20 km away, Arona can be reached via a bookable bus service

By car
By car Arona can be reached
From Milan: along the A8 and then the A8/A26 branch (exit Castelletto Ticino) or continuing on the A26 towards Gravellona Toce (exit Arona)
From Turin: along the A4 in the direction of Venice and then the A26 in the direction of Gravellona Toce (Arona exit)
From Novara: State Road 32
From Verbania: Sempione State Road 33
In the immediate vicinity of the station there is a large number of free parking spaces, while approaching the center and along the lakefront, parking is subject to payment.

From 18 June and for the entire summer time period, the Limited Traffic Zone along Corso Marconi is active, on some days and at times a stretch of the lakefront is therefore not accessible by car.

The ZTL is in force:
Friday from 22.00 to 07.00
Saturday from 22.00 to 07.00
Sundays and holidays from 15.30 to 19.00

On the train
The Arona railway station is served by the lines:

By bus
Replacement buses run the service on the Arona-Santhià line.


What to do

Arona train, Repubblica (From the station, continue 300 meters keeping the lake on your right.), €5. From March to September: Sat-Sun 10.00-18.00. The Arona Express train is the only exciting little train in Arona, with a breathtaking tourist route to discover the beauties that have made the city of Arona famous all over the world. It is active from March to September, on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10.00 to 18.00. Arona train The train allows you to visit the Rocca Borromea Park or the San Carlone. With a discounted ticket you can arrange to visit both attractions.



Souvenirs La Cambusa (Bar La Cambusa), Corso Repubblica 108 (about 100 meters from the train station). They sell various souvenirs of Lake Maggiore.



From Arona, in Roman times, the Via Severiana Augusta passed, a Roman consular road that connected Mediolanum (modern Milan) with the Verbannus Lacus (Lake Verbano, or Lake Maggiore), and from here to the Simplon pass (lat.Summo Plano).

The first written documentation confirming the existence of a socially organized place called Arona dates back to 979: it is an attestation that allows to identify this date only by induction, so much so that some historians argue instead that it is 963.

In any case, the presence of man in this southern part of Lake Maggiore is confirmed much further back in time and dates back to prehistoric times; in fact, in the Lagoni locality, near the hamlet of Mercurago, a pile-dwelling settlement dating back to the Bronze Age (active from the 18th to the 13th century BC) was found in 1860 and, in 1971-1972, a Golasecchian necropolis from the end of the 6th - beginning of 5th century BC Human traces are also documented in the peat bog of Motto San Carlo, in which an arrowhead dating back to the Neolithic and the only object of the Copper Age was found.

Of the wooden finds extracted in the nineteenth century, such as the remains of three wheels that turned in neutral on a central axis and were equipped with rudimentary non-concentric spokes and those of a pirogue carved into a tree trunk, only the plaster casts remain. They were obtained from the footprints in the peat by Bartolomeo Gastaldi, who at the time collected and studied them but could not treat them adequately for conservation given the restoration methods of the time so that, preserved for millennia in the particular anaerobic environmental conditions of the bog, they crumbled to dehydration shortly after their discovery. The remains of a village were also found whose huts had been built on the edge of a body of water and whose foundations had been preserved thanks to the peat in which they were planted, as well as various everyday objects in metal or ceramic: jars, vase bottoms, plates, arrows, dagger blades and other defense tools, bronze pins. From the dozen tombs of the 6th century BC There are vases of exquisite workmanship, bracelets, fibulae, rings, bronze belt hooks. The ceramics found in large quantities around the Rocca di Arona testify to a subsequent settlement to that of the Lagoni and have been assigned to the culture of Canegrate, Protogolasecca and Golasecca.

The Celtic Gauls
The fifth century marks a moment of crisis in the lower Verbano, and only in the third-second century does a conspicuous presence of people reappear, this time Celto-Gallic. It dates back to the 2nd century BC. a valuable bronze anklet found at the foot of the fortress. It is precisely in this period that the first socially organized residential units are formed. The urbanization of the area is fully justified by the presence of the Rocca di Arona, a position of strategic importance that could not go unnoticed by any local population. In fact, on the fortress there are the remains of a pre-Roman fortification, and three kilometers from Arona, the military campus of Borgo Agnello and Paruzzaro.

The Romans and the Middle Ages
In Roman times it was a place of passage towards the Simplon pass. Under the church of San Giuseppe the remains of a furnace and an artisan workshop for metalworking were found. Roman colonization is also documented by funerary tombstones found almost everywhere in the area.

The current inhabited nucleus developed around the Benedictine abbey of San Salvatore, founded in 979 by Count Amizzone del Seprio. Evidence of this development is documented in a "Cronaca" or "Pasionario", a kind of zibaldone in which lives of more or less reliable saints, texts of asceticism, letters of bishops and prelates, prayers and invocations are intertwined. In this context appears the narration of the martyrdom of the San Graziano and San Felino which occurred in 979 with the translation of their bodies to Arona, by count Amizzone del Seprio, a troop captain under the command of Emperor Otto I. There are 249 sheets in parchment written in medieval Latin and written in Gothic. The Benedictine abbey, over time, lost its main prerogatives, mainly due to the rise of a civil authority which identified itself first in the Della Torre family, and subsequently after its demolition, in the Visconti, first of all Ottone who was archbishop of Milan, around the end of the thirteenth century under which the dominion of the archbishop of Milan passed. Later it passed to the Torriani family (XII century). After the battle of Desio (1277), it belonged to the Visconti and in the first decades of the fourteenth century it was a free municipality under the government of the Benedictine abbey.

The Renaissance

From 1439 the territory was granted as a fief to the Borromeo, a lineage of bankers originally from San Miniato in Tuscany. When the Visconti family died out with the daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti who married Francesco I in 1441, the duchy passed to the Sforza family. But this vast territory also had to be defended, and in this sense Vitaliano in 1447 asked Filippo Maria for authorization to fortify the Rocca and the village of Arona, granted to him in 1449 with a letter from Filippo Maria authorizing his vassal to create walls, drawbridges, military defense works, and also places for the gathering and custody of ships: the first documented military port of Lake Maggiore. The fortress was so well defended that it resisted an attack in 1523 by 7,000 men under the command of Renzo de Ceri, one of the many wars that broke out between the Duchy of Milan and the French.

Modern era
With all the duchy of Milan it was under Spanish and then Austrian rule. With the Treaty of Worms (1743) it passed into the domains of the Savoy state, under Carlo Emanuele III.

It was taken by the Napoleonic army and the fortress was demolished following the peace agreements with the Austrians in 1801. With the Congress of Vienna in 1815 it was returned to the Savoy. In 1838 Carlo Alberto of Savoy awarded it the title of city. In 1855 the railway line to Novara was opened and during the 19th century industrial and tourist activities were established. At the end of the century the lake suffered a disastrous flood.


Physical geography

The city of Arona is located on the Piedmontese shore of Lake Maggiore and is crossed by the Vevera stream, which flows into the lake here. The hilly bas-reliefs of morainic origin (called "mottos") extend all around, incorporated into the Lagoni di Mercurago natural park where, in 1860, the first pile-dwelling settlement found in Italy was identified. Most of the municipal area is also hilly, with altitudes gradually decreasing from north to south (and from west to east in the inhabited center) from 513 m in Motto Mirabello (near the hamlet of Dagnente) up to 195 m on the shore at the lake.

The hilly reliefs are generally covered by woods which occupy more than half of the Aronese territory, urbanized areas lie on 33% of the surface and meadows or pastures on 9%; smaller percentages are destined to parks, gardens and green sports areas (2.3%), vegetable gardens, orchards, nurseries and vineyards (1.7%), uncultivated herbaceous plants (1%) and arable land (0.4%).

Located in the southernmost part of the lake, Arona is about 37 km from the provincial capital Novara, but only about thirty from Milan-Malpensa airport.

Origins of the name
The toponym could derive from the Celtic roots art (mountain) and on (water), with the meaning of "mountain on the water".



The definitive destruction of the Arone fortress together with six other citadels of Piedmont was ordered by Napoleone Buonaparte in 1800, the day following the victory of Marengo. This meant the possibility of expanding the urban fabric beyond the walls within which it was limited. Thanks to this, large spaces were created on which to build the port, the shipyard, the railway station. Arona's fortune has always been linked to its excellent geographical position, thanks to which it enjoys and has always enjoyed a respectable logistical condition.

The economy of Arona is mainly based on tourism and commerce, even if there are some important chemical factories in the area, such as Thurckon S.r.l, and confectionery factories, such as the Laica chocolate shop.



Twice Arona was home to the stage finish of the Giro d'Italia.

1966 14th stage Parma-Arona, won by Franco Bitossi
2001 20th stage Busto Arsizio-Arona, won by Gilberto Simoni
On 24 August 2005 Damiano Cunego won the 8th edition of the Nobili Grand Prix in Arona.

The Arona football club has its headquarters in the municipality, whose internal field is the Valerio Del Ponte stadium.

There is an American football team, the Arona 65ers, who play in the Third Division championship and who won the Italian flag football championship in 2015.