The Colossus of Saint Charles Borromeo

Also called San Carlone, it is one of the tallest statues in the world

The 35-metre-high San Carlone is one of the world’s tallest statues. It even inspired the designer of the Statue of Liberty.

The Statue

The Colossus of Saint Charles is perched on a hill about 310 metres (1017 ft) above sea level, along the road connecting Arona with Dagnente, and is also visible from the lake.

The 115-ft-high statue is hollow on the inside, supported by a core of stone, brick, and iron. On the outside, it is made of copper plates hammered together and joined by nails and tie rods. The complex metal structure inside the blessing arm was designed to withstand the strong winds blowing in the area.

The colossal work was designed by Giovan Battista Crespi, known as ‘il Cerano’. The copper parts were created by the sculptors Siro Zanella and Bernardo Falconi. The statue was completed in 1698.

Saint Charles is shown standing, wearing a cassock, rochet, and mozzetta – a short, cape-shaped garment -, in the act of blessing the city with his right hand, while holding a book to his body with his left arm. Visitors can either walk to the panoramic platform at the foot of the colossus or climb up to a height of 35 metres (115 ft) by a spiral staircase and steep vertical stairs. From San Carlone’s head, it is possible to admire the surrounding panorama through holes in the saint’s eyes, nostrils, and ears or some openings in the back.


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