Posted by: ourtravelingcircus | June 12, 2015

St. Carlo Borromeo

Soon after we arrived I bought a Lake Maggiore guide from the shop at the harbor. The pictures look like they’re from the 1970’s and the text is poorly translated. But at least it gives us some idea of the features of the surrounding towns. Last night I asked Margaret to look through it and find something interesting to do. It didn’t take long. “How about the creepy giant guy,” she suggested, referring to a colossal statue of St. Carlo Borromeo in Arona. Since several of us were interested, we went we that, getting up and out for the 9:10 bus to Arona.

The bus dropped us off at the train station, roughly a mile and a half from the hill above Arona where St. Carlo resides, along with a beautiful church and a convent. The climb is steep and we were winded when we got to the top. We went into the church to sit down just as a service kicked off with about fifty nuns singing acapella. If you haven’t heard fifty nuns sing acapella, I recommend it for sheer beauty.

Tim decided he was not up for the trip up into St. Carlo. The kids and I paid for our tickets and headed for the spiral staircases at the rear. I’d assumed that the inside would be more of the same. How wrong I was. About mid-torso to St. Carlo, the staircase gave way to a ladder, and the climb was straight up. With other members of the family behind, turning around was not an option. My hands were sweating from pure fear and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold on. Fortunately there were roughed metal braces that were easier to grip.

He view from St. Carlo’s neck flaps was superb. Margaret and I clambered up the remaining ten steps to perch on a ledge where we could look out his nostrils and eyes. This view overlooked the church bells and the fortress of Arona beyond. I decided it was worth the climb–assuming we all got down safely again. We had to laugh when we read that children were supposed to be harnessed going up and adults could be to on request. The ticket guy never mentioned it. I’m pretty sure St. Carlo would be shut down in the US. But the view…

It looked like rain was coming so we took off down the path at a trot. But it was too late. We were caught in a thunderstorm. We found the most protected spot we could and ate our lunch cookies. They were very good, even wet.

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