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 fortified palace was strategically built perched on a spur of limestone rock, directly opposite the Rocca di Arona on the opposite shore of Lake Maggiore. It was acquired by the Visconti, originally from the Verbano area, during the 14th century and later sold to the Borromeo family (who still owns it) during the 15th century. The building is the result of the union of five different structures, erected between the 11th and 17th centuries: the Castellana Tower, the Scaligera Wing (recently renovated and used as an exhibition space), the Viscontea Wing, the Tower of Giovanni Visconti, and the Wing of the Borromeo family.
It's impossible not to be surprised by the size and solemnity of the frescoed rooms: some spaces are truly impressive, such as the famous Sala di Giustizia (Hall of Justice), which houses a cycle of frescoes from the 13th century by an anonymous painter (the so-called "maestro di Angera") depicting the events related to the life of Archbishop Ottone Visconti, particularly his victory over the Torriani in the Battle of Desio in 1277.
Another treasure kept inside the palace is the "Museum of Dolls and Toys", founded in 1988 by Princess Bona Borromeo Arese. The collection includes over a thousand dolls made from the 18th century to the present day, using traditional materials such as wood, wax, papier-mâché, porcelain, and fabric.
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…