Arona has a long, intricate history because of its strategic position at the south entrance to Lake Maggiore: Inhabited since prehistoric times, Arona was home in the Middle Ages to a powerful Benedictine Abbey later included in the Duchy of Milan. In 1439 the town became the private possession of the Borromeo family and remained so until the 18th century.
Today Arona has around 14 000 inhabitants; its old medieval centre is well preserved and boasts a beautiful lakeside walk overlooking the scenic southern part of Lake Maggiore. A narrow street runs through the old town displaying a colourful walkway of shops and cafés. At the end it opens out into a picturesque square overlooking the lake, formerly the old commercial port of the fortified town whose imposing medieval castle dominated the lake from the top of the hill.
Sadly it was almost completely pulled down only two centuries ago. A famous highlight of Arona is the so called “Sancarlone”, a huge statue of Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan in the second half of the 16th century: tourists can climb the inner, narrow stairs enjoying a great view of the lake and hills through the eyes and nose of the statue!