Angera Open Air Museum - Lake Maggiore

Discover the 57 sites

Did you know that in the area around Angera there are dozens of historic and artistic monuments, unspoilt and protected environments, pleasant walks, beaches, museums and romantic view-spots?
If you counted up the ones you know, how many would there be? The castle and the Riva Sanctuary, the Archaeology Museum and the Nature Reserve, the beach and San Quirico, and then?
In fact there are no less than 57 historical, artistic and landscape monuments in the Angera Open-Air Museum!
The rooms of this museum are outdoors, in the town centre, periphery and surrounding villages, freshened by a light breeze, nature's own scents and birdsong, situated between the sparkling lake, the shady woods and the fertile hills.
The exhibits are to be found next to ancient roads, in the calm bay, underground, inside gateways – and some of them will stimulate your palate.
The captions that describe the works of art created by nature over countless millennia – or by human ingenuity over the centuries – consist of large panels in Italian and English placed near each monument.
You can choose the historical/artistic route that you would like to follow on foot – to see the town centre's principal monuments, or by bicycle – to see the main monuments in Angera's town centre, the Nature Reserve, Bruschera, Capronno, Barzola and Ronchi.

In the map you can find a short description and clicking on the photo you’ll get further details.

Leave your car and start the itinerary  if you prefer  with the help of the paper map, available at the  Archaeological Museum and at  the Tourist Office or  downloadable from the website.

HERITAGE MAP ANGERA OPEN AIR MUSEUM - LAGO MAGGIORE.pdf

Site n.1 - Praetorian Palace - Civic Archaeological Museum

Site n.2 - Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta

Site n.3 - Church of Santo Alessandro, Sisinnio e Martirio

Site n.4 - Former Convent and Gate of Santa Caterina

Site n.5 - Via Mario Greppi

Site n.6 - Società Anonima Maglificio Angerese (Anonymous Knitting Company of Angera)

Site n.7 - Barbicans

Site n.8 - Forni House

Site n.9 - Convent of Santa Teresa

Site n.10 - Carrobbio - Villa Palletta, Scavarda, Bordini

Site n.11- Roman House and Church of San Vittore

Site n.12 - Greppi House

Site n.13 - The Quarry

Site n.14 - Noce and Nocciola beaches

Site n.15 - War Memorial

Site n.16 - The Angera lime trees of the Fishermen

Site n.17 - Sanctuary of Madonna dei Miracoli or della Riva

Site n.18 - Austrian Harbour

Site n.19 - Panoramic view towards Isolino Partegora

Site n.20 - Borromeo Palace

Site n.21- Allea

Site n.22 - Captain House

Site n.23 - Town Hall

Site n.24 - Garibaldi Square

Site n.25 - Villa Liberty

Site n.26 - Roman well and road

Site n.27 - Rocca di Angera

Site n.28 - Old road to Ranco

Site n.29 - Cascina Monastero

Site n.30 - Church of San Quirico

Site n.31 - The Ronchi and Valcastellana street

Site n.32 - Entrance to Nature Reserve of Bruschera

Site n.33 - Civic cemetery and Roman Burial Ground

Site n.34 - Roman rural building

Site n.35 - Church of Bruschera

Site n.36 - Piazza Matteotti - Capronno Hamlet

Site n.37 - Church of Sant'Ambrogio and Santa Maria Maddalena. Capronno Hamlet

Site n.38 - Chapel of Sant'Ambrogio. Capronno Hamlet

Site n.39 - Il Castellaccio. Capronno Hamlet

Site n.40 - Church of Santi Cosma and Damiano. Barzola Hamlet

Site n.41- Carlo Ondoli Pious Foundation

Site n.42 - Contrada d'Amore or Via da 'Muu

Site n.43 - 13th Czechoslovak Battalion

Site n.44 - The Boy of Angera - Spray color mural after "The Boy with a basket of fruit" by Caravaggio (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.45 - The cross of Prà di Oss

Site n.46 - The Capronno Washhouse. Capronno Hamlet

Site n.47 - Chapel of Madonna dell'Uva

Site n.48 - Shrine of San Michele

Site n.49 - Chapel of Peace

Site n.50 - Chapel of San Rocco

Site n.51 - La Scapiliata (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.52 - St. Anthony The Great (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.53 - Detail of the Hall of Justice in the Fortress of Angera (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.54 - Santa Liberata (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.55 - San Quirico (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Site n.56 - Lodovico il Moro (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Sito n. 57 - Cascina Storica legata alla pratica della bachicoltura - Barzola

Map

Site n.1 - Praetorian Palace - Civic Archaeological Museum

The Palazzo del Pretorio is a 15th century building with access from Via Marconi through a portal with a pointed arch in Angera Stone. 

Site n.2 - Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta

The present building stands  on a previous church dedicated to Santa Maria, extant since at least the 14th century.

Site n.3 - Church of Santo Alessandro, Sisinnio e Martirio

The current edifice is the result of the rebuild between 1580 and 1585 of structures dating to the Early Medieval period. What was once considered to be Angera's major church was most probably erected on top of a previous Early Christian construction.

Site n.4 - Former Convent and Gate of Santa Caterina

The ex-convent of Santa Caterina, martyr and virgin, was built in the 14th century as a hospital adjacent to the church of the same name.

Site n.5 - Via Mario Greppi

From the old Pasqué, now Piazza Parrocchiale, starts the old Via di Mezzo, today called Via Mario Greppi after a victim of the Liberation shot in 1945 (and previously Via Vittorio Emanuele II).

Site n.6 - Società Anonima Maglificio Angerese (Anonymous Knitting Company of Angera)

The building that overlooks the first square on Via Greppi was headquarters of the Società Anonima Maglificio Angerese, founded in 1894 by Teresina Piona and Amalia Forni, which gave employment to hundreds of workers, mostly women, and was an important important economic resource for the town's inhabitants.

Site n.7 - Barbicans

North of Via Achille Piazzi, named after a young partisan shot in 1944, runs a stretch of solid stone wall known to locals as the Barbacani (barbican). The term refers to a medieval defensive structure associated with a town's fortifications. However, despite numerous investigations Angera's town wall has never been found; a possible external ditch was brought to light in the 1980s during work in Via Cadorna.

Site n.8 - Forni House

Half-way along Via Greppi, proceeding from Piazza Parrocchiale, there is another square containing buildings of medieval origin and a bank. Nearby, on the north side, is Casa Forni.

Site n.9 - Convent of Santa Teresa

On the left (south) side of Via Greppi, at the corner with Via Cavour (once Contrada delle Monache), stand the remains of the convent of Santa Teresa, now used as dwellings and shops. 
The architectural form may be clearly seen from above, from the gallery of the castle or Rocca.
The Convent of Santa Teresa was founded in 1727 and suppressed in 1782; it was inhabited by nuns of the Barefoot Carmelite Order.

Site n.10 - Carrobbio - Villa Palletta, Scavarda, Bordini

At the junction with Via Rocca, Via Mario Greppi is known as the Carrobbio: this term, typical of Lombardy, derives from the Latin quadrivium and means crossroads. 

Site n.11- Roman House and Church of San Vittore

Before reaching the lake, Via Mario Greppi touches the old quarter called da Muu or dell’Amore, where in the past Angera's fishermen lived. Today the road is named after the young partisan Arturo Merzagora who was shot in 1944.

Site n.12 - Greppi House

 After the junction with Via Merzagora, the old Via di Mezzo takes the name of Via Carlo Ondoli in memory of Angera's first hospital, established in a house donated by Carlo Ondoli in 1879. 

Site n.13 - The Quarry

The west side of the Rocca di Angera has been used since Roman times as a quarry for Angera Stone.
This is a sedimentary rock, a dolomite, already employed for building 2,000 years ago, e.g. in the Roman theatre in Milan.

Site n.14 - Noce and Nocciola beaches

In recent years the waters of Angera have always received the bandiera blue (blue flag), which is the official confirmation of clean swimming waters in Italy. There are two beaches that are designated swimming areas in Angera.

Site n.15 - War Memorial

The War Memorial dominates the part of the shore that juts out into the lake; it is made of granite and portrays an infantryman on lookout.

Site n.16 - The Angera lime trees of the Fishermen

The part of the public gardens which extends from the Austrian Port to the landing stage is embellished with lime trees almost a century old, which Angera fisherman used to hang their nets from to dry them in the sun and make repairs.

Site n.17 - Sanctuary of Madonna dei Miracoli or della Riva

In 1657 on the 27th June occurred the miracle of sweating blood, which appeared on the forehead of the Blessed Virgin that stood above the side wall of the door of Casa Berna. So, as is their custom, the women of Angera had made a garland of flowers for this effigy

Site n.18 - Austrian Harbour

For over 2,000 years Angera's development has been due the fact that it faces onto a bay protected from the wind by the Rocca and San Quirico hills. This natural port lay at the centre of river and lake routes between Europe further north and the Adriatic that passed along the Po and Ticino rivers and Lake Maggiore.

Site n.19 - Panoramic view towards Isolino Partegora

Isolino Partegora, covered only by poplars and surrounded by reeds, is an isle in the middle of the small bay (known in the past as “gora”).

Site n.20 - Borromeo Palace

Borromeo Palace is a Neoclassical building of sober and elegant lines; the central portion bears a triangular pediment and on the first floor there is a long balcony held up by lions' heads. On the façade is a plaque placed there in 1882 by the local Workers' Association in memory of Garibaldi's sojourn in the house from the 15th to 17th June 1862.

Site n.21- Allea

Angera's southern waterfront is of 19th century design. The shore was filled in, creating the suggestive lawns that give the town an appearance not found elsewhere in the lake.
In 1820 the pedestrian promenade was also added; originally it had three rows of horse-chestnut trees, reduced to two in 1914 when the Angera-Varese tramline (now dismantled) was built.

Site n.22 - Captain House

The residence at 8 Via Visconti still displays an arched brick entrance (now closed off) surmounted by a circular shield bearing the serpent of the Visconti family. Beside survives a fine mullioned window with a capital decorated with the Visconti coat of arms, flanked by two heads.

Site n.23 - Town Hall

The Town Hall was built in 1893 as a school; since the 1960s it has been seat of the council offices.
The façade commemorates some important local personages. In 1899 a memorial stone was dedicated to Giuseppe Ferrari, distinguished politician and thinker, and Felice Cavallotti, illustrious citizen and ardent defender of political morality. 

Site n.24 - Garibaldi Square

The large square between the modern fountain and the Madonna della Riva Sanctuary has had various names over the centuries.
Known as Piazza del Lago in 1770, it was then named after Ferdinando I; after Italy was united it was called Piazza della Riva, Piazza del Lago and Piazza Stazzona; since 1883 it has been named after Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Site n.25 - Villa Liberty

The villa is one of the local examples of Liberty-style architecture, which spread in the Varese area from the early 20th century onwards.

Site n.26 - Roman well and road

During excavations conducted in 2005 at the corner between Via Mazzini and Via San Martino (in the area where the Rossi Distillery stood) interesting Roman remains were found. These include part of a 1st century AD road, which may be seen inside a garage.

Site n.27 - Rocca di Angera

The Rocca di Angera is a castle or fortress which stands majestically on a spur of rock that dominates the southern shore of Lake Maggiore. In a strategic position to see the surrounding area and any approaching people, it was the property of the Visconti family, originally from Verbano, and in 1449 it was bought by the Borromeo family, to whom it still belongs today.

Site n.28 - Old road to Ranco

In times past the road between Angera and Ranco did not run along the lakeside, but a little further inland. This old road offers a stroll through farms, woods, vineyards and villas with splendid views of the lake.

Site n.29 - Cascina Monastero

Cascina Monastero owes its name to a religious foundation established by Cardinal Federico Borromeo. On 25th July 1625 work was begun on the construction of a monastery for the Barefoot Carmelite nuns, who livered a cloistered existence devoted mainly to contemplative prayer. 

Site n.30 - Church of San Quirico

The church of San Quirico, which stands on top of the hill named after it, is of ancient foundation; the first document referring to it dates from the early years of the 13th century.
The church has undoubtedly several construction phases; the oldest part is the apse, and the building was completed in later centuries. The wall decorations and frescoes date to the 1920s.

Site n.31 - The Ronchi and Valcastellana street

The old Via Valcastellana still preserves some stretches finished with river cobbles, once known as 'Lombardy build'. This road-surfacing technique has been used since the Roman period and demonstrates the antiquity of the road, which connects the town with the farmhouses on San Quirico Hill and the Ronchi, with its terraced vine cultivations that are typical of the Varese area.

Site n.32 - Entrance to Nature Reserve of Bruschera

The wetland of Bruschera, about 164 hectares, located on the Lombardy shore of Lake Maggiore south of Angera, is one of the last patches of flooded forest in Lombardy, characterized by a vast wet forest of black alder trees, a system of springs, meadows, ponds and reedbeds along with oak woods and some small agricultural plots.

Site n.33 - Civic cemetery and Roman Burial Ground

The Napoleonic and Austrian laws according to which cemeteries were to be moved to areas outside settlements were put into effect after the unification of Italy. The local surveyors and geologists decided to site in Bocca dei Cavalli locality the Civic Cemetery of Angera that was established in 1877.

Site n.34 - Roman rural building

Excavations conducted between 1981 and 1984 revealed that the area has been inhabited since at least the 1st century AD and brought to light the remains of a rural building dating to the 3rd century AD. The construction comprised a residential area next to a productive area with a courtyard.

Site n.35 - Church of Bruschera

The Church of the Sacra Famiglia was built in the village of Bruschera di Angera in 1952.

Site n.36 - Piazza Matteotti - Capronno Hamlet

The piazza, now surrounded by old buildings with backyards and farms, is at the centre of the outlying village of Capronno.This locality may have been the site of a Roman farmhouse, as suggested by a number of interesting archaeological finds. 

Site n.37 - Church of Sant'Ambrogio and Santa Maria Maddalena. Capronno Hamlet

The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Capronno stands on a hill overlooking the hamlet.
The present building incorporates an older church dedicated to Santa Maria.

Site n.38 - Chapel of Sant'Ambrogio. Capronno Hamlet

The Chapel of Saint Ambrose stands only a few metres away from the road leading from Capronno to Cadrezzate and Lentate. In plan, this small chapel is composed of two chambers divided by a doorway with a round arch: the apse and the porch.

Site n.39 - Il Castellaccio. Capronno Hamlet

The summit of the hill that overlooks Capronno is referred to in old documents as castello or castellaccio (castle). No remains are visible now in this wooded area, but 1970 during agricultural work, the remains of walls, pottery and brick/tiles of Roman and Lombard epoch were unearthed.

Site n.40 - Church of Santi Cosma and Damiano. Barzola Hamlet

A church dedicated to Saint Quiricus in Barzola locality is documented in the late 13th century; this was perhaps the church of Barzola in the parish of Angera which since the 16th century has been dedicated to Saints Cosmas and Damian.

Site n.41- Carlo Ondoli Pious Foundation

Hospital for the poor established in 1889 after kindly entrepreneur Carlo Ondoli bequeathed his house for the purpose, and directed by the doctor Luigi Pigorini. In 1914 the hospital was transferred to its current location in Via Bordini and the original building passed into private owners.

Site n.42 - Contrada d'Amore or Via da 'Muu

An old street in the fishermen’s quarter, traditionally known as Via da ‘Muu (Street of Love), where the inhabitants of Angera were accustomed to exchange promises of eternal love.

Site n.43 - 13th Czechoslovak Battalion

Angera remembers the Czechoslovakian soldiers who fought alongside Italian troops during World War I and were stationed in the Corte dei Cardana. Via Paletta is home to the Corte dei Cardana, also called curt da bass  (lower courtyard), to distinguish it from the curt da sura (upper courtyard) situated in what is now Via Mario Greppi. A wall facing the Corte dei Cardana bears part of a coat-of-arms accompanied by writing, painted by Czechoslovakian soldiers on training in Angera.

Site n.44 - The Boy of Angera - Spray color mural after "The Boy with a basket of fruit" by Caravaggio (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Reproduction of the painting Boy with a Basket of Fruit by Caravaggio (1571-1610) using the ‘spray colours’ technique, produced by the artist Andrea RAVO Mattoni for the Angera September 2016 festival, as part of his project "Una Pinacoteca a cielo aperto (An Open-air Art Gallery)". The work was funded by the Tedeschi family and the Angera community.

Site n.45 - The cross of Prà di Oss

This wrought iron cross was erected in memory of those who died in past epidemics. Until the 1950s the cross was decorated with flowers and blessed during a religious procession.

Site n.46 - The Capronno Washhouse. Capronno Hamlet

This public washing place commemorates the immense amount of hard work carried out by the women who washed clothes in such facilities or in rivers until the 1960s, breaking the ice in winter and short of water in the summer.

Site n.47 - Chapel of Madonna dell'Uva

The shrine stands on the old road to Ranco just after the junction with Via Bologna, in a part of the town known as Altinada, in an area once occupied by the church of San Cassiano. Important archaeological discoveries have been made in this zone, such as the burial urn of Calventia Virilliena on display in the worked-stone section of the Archaeology Museum at 2 Via Marconi, Angera.

Site n.48 - Shrine of San Michele

The beautifully carved slab, probably of late 19th century date, shows St Michael, winged, dressed in a short light tunic and ankle-length footwear with open toes; he holds the spear firmly in his hands with the point downwards, destined to pierce the winged dragon that the archangel holds firmly under his right foot. The sculptural representation of this monstrous animal perhaps does not do justice to its satanic ferocity.

Site n.49 - Chapel of Peace

An old chapel dedicated to the Madonna della Pace is recorded on this site from 1579; the main processions recorded in the Capitular Diary passed here, in particular those that went from Angera to Ranco and back, along the Vigane and the old road to Ranco.  It was demolished in about 1950 and in 1961 this chapel was built to replace it, near the entrance to the Angera schools.

Site n.50 - Chapel of San Rocco

The chapel stands in the area of the old 1786 Capronno graveyard, replaced by the present one in 1858. It was perhaps originally a cemetery chapel dedicated to plague victims or to San Rocco, protector against pestilences.

Site n.51 - La Scapiliata (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Head of young woman, known as La Scapiliata, from a work by Leonardo da Vinci, painted on occasion of the 500th anniversary of his death. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 1.5 x 1 m.

Site n.52 - St. Anthony The Great (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Painting showing the face St Anthony. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 2 x 1.5 m. The original work belongs to the parish and is not open to the public; it comes from the church of Sant’Antonio Abate, which was in Via Paletta but was deconsecrated and partly demolished in the latter half of the 19th century; today all that is visible from the street of the church is a door jamb in Angera stone with a floral decoration

Site n.53 - Detail of the Hall of Justice in the Fortress of Angera (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Detail showing Napo Torriani begging for mercy to Bishop Ottone Visconti, from the wall paintings in the Hall of Justice, Angera Castle. The room was decorated by an anonymous Angera painter in the late 13th – early 14th century. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 2 x 1.5 m.

Site n.54 - Santa Liberata (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Painting on canvas showing the face of Santa Liberata. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 2 x 1.5 m. The original work belongs to the parish and is not open to the public; it comes from the church of Santa Liberata in Via Lombardia which was deconsecrated and became private property in the 19th century.

Site n.55 - San Quirico (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Detail of face attributed to San Quirico, from the wall paintings discovered in 1993 in the sacristy of the church of Santa Maria Maddalena e Ambrogio in Capronno. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 1.5 x 1.5 m.

Site n.56 - Lodovico il Moro (by Andrea Ravo Mattoni)

Detail of wall painting from the House of Forni with a portrait of Ludovico Maria Sforza (Il Moro) in armour surrounded by a garland. Andrea Ravo Mattoni, 2019, spray paint on PVC canvas, 1.3 x 1.3 m.

Sito n. 57 - Cascina Storica legata alla pratica della bachicoltura - Barzola

L’antica cascina contadina, già documentata sulle mappe catastali di metà ‘800, ospita oggi la sede della Compagnia Roggero, attiva nella produzione artigianale di burattini, marionette e pupazzi ed eccellenza nazionale nel teatro di figura.
Nel 1990, durante i lavori di ristrutturazione di uno dei locali della cascina, furono rinvenuti sotto uno strato di intonaco, numerosi bozzoli, testimonianze della pratica in passato della bachicoltura, cioè dell’allevamento dei bachi da seta.