The Rock of Arona is stunning. I will never cease to maintain that the Italy possesses a heritage and variety of landscape, as well as culture, that is impressive and of which we should be very proud. The Borromean Rock Park is just over an hour from Milan; it is an excellent destination for a day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities.
The town of Arona, in addition to having a very interesting lakefront, is famous for its fortress, called precisely the Borromean Fortress of Arona. From the fortress you can see almost all of Lake Maggiore. If you find a sunny day like the one I found, you will see exceptional colors.
Visiting the Fortress of Arona
The Borromean Fortress of Arona, built in the Lombard era, has only a few remains of what was then one of the main fortresses for the strategic control of Lake Maggiore. Indeed, the location is very strategic from a defensive point of view, you can tell by the almost 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
The fortress cannot be visited and is placed precisely within the Rocca Borromea Park in Arona. It has become a beautiful, well-maintained green space where it is possible to relax in the shade of what has been the city’s history.
I was pleasantly impressed by how well maintained the whole park is. By the way, the maintenance, if I am not mistaken, should be entrusted to the managers of the only bar inside it.
My advice is to carve out some time for yourself. Have a nice drink overlooking the lake at the bar in the park, then sit on a bench and admire the whole conformation of the lake. If you have a good book handy, know that this is the place to lose yourself in reading.
History of the Fortress of Arona
Built for defensive purposes, it was one of the main control points of the entire Lake Maggiore. Founded in Lombard times, over the years it passed from ownership to ownership until the 11th-12th centuries when it took on the connotations of a simple refuge. After further unhappy vicissitudes with that of 1227 when it was almost destroyed; in 1439 it was ceded as a fief to Vitaliano i Borromeo.
Centuries passed until 1800 when in Napoleonic times it was entirely destroyed, as we can see it today, of which barely the remains remain. In 1970 the fortress of Arona was given to the municipality of Arona to become a public park. In 2002 it was unfortunately closed for various reasons, including lack of security; since 2011 it has been reopened and can be visited again.
Nearby Orta San Giulio
When you have relaxed enough, go and visit Orta San Giulio.
It is relatively close to Arona; you only have to go from Lake Maggiore to nearby Lake Orta. It is a very pretty town whose main center is just across from the tiny island of San Giulio, which can be reached by ferries that depart frequently from Orta’s main square.
Personally, I did not go to the island because, due to lack of time and uninviting reviews, I preferred to walk around Orta.
Another tip is to combine a visit to the Rock of Arona with a visit to the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore, you will not regret it.
How to get to the Lake Maggiore area
The Borromean Rock Park and the whole Lake Maggiore area are very close to Milan. Therefore, it can be the perfect solution for people coming to northern Italy to spend a nice weekend. In case you arrive using your own car, getting to Arona is very easy.
You need to take the highway from Milan towards Gravellona Toce and exit at Castelletto sopra Ticino, at which point simply follow the signs.
In case, however, someone does not have their own car available or is in Milan for a weekend and wants to make a day trip, a great idea is to rent a car through the service Rentalcars. It allows for maximum flexibility and enables better appreciation of all the sights and beautiful surroundings of this area.