Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Rocca d'Angera - Angera's Castle

Another long gap between posts I'm afraid, but thankfully that means it has been a busy May and June! A visit from my parents last week gave me the opportunity to take a day off and go exploring with them. So we fired up their hire car and did a bit of a south lake tour, taking in the Rocca d'Angera Castle and the bucket lift in Laveno.

A view of the Rocca d'Angera Castle from the medieval garden
The main entrance of the Rocca d'Angera
As I've already written about the bucket lift, I thought I'd share my thoughts about the Rooca d'Angera. I'm sure it gets a a lot fewer visitors than the other Borromean attractions, Isola Bella and Isola Madre, but this means we pretty much had the palce to ourselves and I think it is well worth a visit.

Apart from being in a super position above Angera, with views from the tower over the south part of Lake Maggiore, I really enjoyed the rooms in the main part of the castle, the automata collection and the small medieval kitchen garden.

The courtyard and cafe before entering the castle
The entrance and cafe
As you enter the main castle complex on the right is an enormous press and wooden barrels from the old wine cellar. You can then walk round the courtyard to visit the doll and toy museum where I'm sure you'll trigger more than one childhood memory!

You then enter the main castle rooms: the "ceremonies room" and the "pomp room". Both rooms are simply furnished and have wonderful frescoes and paintings. For me, they are the kind of rooms I expect to see in a 16th and 17th century castle. Past the "ceremonies room" you will find a small room full of a very colourful collection of over 300 pieces of Majolica. Carrying on to the next room there is a fascinating collection of automata. There is a video screen showing several of them working and I defy you not to have a little snigger when they get to the "weeing lady"!!

The "ceremonies room"
The "pomp room"
Coming back out into the courtyard you can begin your climb to the upper terrace and then the top of the tower. The climb is done in stages, starting in the brightly frescoed "justice room". The frescoes here date back to the 13th century and were made by a painter known only as the "Angera Master". Take the wooden staircase at the end of the room and begin your climb. My tip on your way up is to take time to look out from the small windows for wonderfully framed snapshots across the lake.

The "justice room" (and my Mum and Dad!)
Carry on up from room to room and you will reach a large roofed terrace which already gives you great 270° views, but keep going to reach the top of the tower where you will get full 360° panoramic views over south Lake Maggiore.

Looking north towards Meina and Lesa
Looking south towards Arona and beyond to Sesto Calende
After visiting the castle we strolled down into the gardens which are nothing like the ones on the Borromean Islands. Instead there are grape vines, herbs and fruit trees. Nonetheless I found them enchanting and we had a pleasant stroll around, smelling the herbs and trying to guess what some of the fruit trees were!

After our leisurely visit we decided to have some lunch at the little cafe. A sandwich and a drink hit the spot and the outside seating area had great views across the lake.

The cafe seating is just out of shot to the right!
Have you been to the Rocca d'Angera? What did you think?

Practical Information

Entrance to the Rocca costs € 8.50 for adults and € 5.50 for children 6-15 years. If you will visit the Rocca, Isola Bella and Isola Madre during your holiday you can buy a joint entrance ticket for all three atrractions. This costs € 22.00 for adults and € 11.50 for children. The two islands must be visited on the same day but you can visit the Rocca on any other day until the end of the season!

Driving to the Rocca is the easiest option, but if you don't have a car then here's how to get there with public transport:

Stresa to Angera
2014 there is a daily hydrofoil from Stresa at 10.27, arriving Angera at 10.45. On Saturdays and Sundays there is a ferry from Stresa at 11.45, arriving Angera at 12.03.

Angera to Stresa
2014 there is a daily ferry from Angera at 13.20, arriving Stresa at 14.20. On Saturdays and Sundays there is a ferry from Angera at 14.34, arriving Stresa at 14.55. There is also a daily ferry from Angera at 15.34, arriving Stresa at 15.55.

Please note that the Rocca is 1.4km from the ferry station in Angera with the last part being uphill.


  1. Thanks for another interesting and informative piece. I was intrigued by the vineyard at the Rocca, which you show in one of the pics, and wanted to ask someone what happened to the grapes. The area of Angera used to be well-known for its wine production into the late-19th C when disease swept away the vineyards. These have now been replanted, and there is a Ronchi Varesini (IGP) appelation.

    So, do the Borromeo family use the grapes at the Rocca d'Angera to make their own wine, for their own use? Do they have an agreement with to the local wine producer Rossi d'Angera, or whoever, which would then sell the wine? That would make a great souvenir.

  2. Hi Roberta - and thanks you for your comment. I never realised there was wine production in the Varese area but now I would love to try some of the Ronchi Varesini. I was also wondering what happened to the grapes at the Rocca ... and also to all the fruit in the gardens as well. There were fig trees heavy with heaps of ripening fruit. I saw potential for the cafe/shop selling their own produce (like the National Trust property near my parents in the UK does) but I guess they just do not get enough visitors up there to justify the work involved. Both times we've been we've had the place virtually to ourselves - which never ever happens on the islands!! Such a shame because I have loved both visits there and it has so much potential. I might ask them on FB and see if they reply! Sarah