La Darbia blog

ANGERA AND ITS ROMANTIC ROCCA

Fri, 10 August 2018
ANGERA AND ITS ROMANTIC ROCCA
A scalloped castle, a collection of dolls and a series of fairytale weddings... this is the Rocca of Angera, a virtually magical place! I browse around the magnificent rooms in the Rocca or castle of Angera with a sense of awe: one of the finest palaces in our area which features spacious courtyard..

A scalloped castle, a collection of dolls and a series of fairytale weddings... this is the Rocca of Angera, a virtually magical place!

I browse around the magnificent rooms in the Rocca or castle of Angera with a sense of awe: one of the finest palaces in our area which features spacious courtyards, refined rooms, splendid frescoed vaults. Majestic and elegant, this striking, elegant medieval castle, surrounded by a beautiful annular wall with its Ghibelline scallops and enclosed by an enchanting landscape exudes a fairylike atmosphere.

The fortress was built in a strategic position perched atop a spur of limestone rock exactly opposite the Rocca of Arona on the other shore of Lake Maggiore. It was purchased by the Visconti family, who originally hailed from Verbano, in the thirteenth century and later sold to the Borromeo family (to whom it still belongs) during the fifteenth century. It is the result of the union of five different buildings, erected between the 11th and the 17th: the Castellana Tower, the Scaligera wing (recently refurbished and designated as an exhibition hall), the Viscontea wing, the Giovanni Visconti Tower and the Borromeo wing.

It is impossible not to be impressed by the size and the solemnity of the frescoed rooms : there are some especially evocative halls such as the famous Sala di Giustizia (Room of Justice) which boasts a range of frescoes done in the thirteenth century by an anonymous painter (the so-called “master from Angera”) for the purpose of narrating the episodes associated with the life of Archbishop Ottone Visconti and, in particular, his victory over the Torriani in the battle of Desio in 1277.

Another treasure in the safekeeping of the Rocca is The “Doll and Toy Museum” founded in 1988 by Princess Bona Borromeo Arese. The collection within consists of more than a thousand dolls displayed in twelve different rooms, dating from the eighteenth century to the present day in traditional period materials: wood, wax, papier maché, porcelain, cloth.

The exterior of the Rocca features a green area with a fine Medieval garden set out on the esplanade facing Lake Maggiore : the skilled Borromeo gardeners, having studied the ancient code of rules were able to produce a fertile nursery so that several plant species, described in ancient medieval texts, have now taken root in the lee of Rocca's old little church. Medicinal plants grow alongside others of an ornamental nature, cultivated in accordance with rules and precise geometric patterns so as to recreate the idea of a “lost paradise” within the walls.

In recent years princes, footballers and international jet-set personalities have chosen Rocca as the setting for their weddings: fairy-tale marriages are organized against the awe-inspiring background of the castle and end up unfailingly on the covers of glossy magazines. You cannot but admit that mythical things still happen …

A little information for the more technological among our guests: a really handy APP which serves as an audioguide for a complete and highly interesting tour may be downloaded on your smartphone.

It is also worth remembering that Rocca is open from March to October and can be reached by car (it takes about 50 minutes from La Darbia) or, alternatively, by means of a pleasant ferry journey, departing from the Imbarcadero in Arona.

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