The Villas of Arona
How to get
By train: Arona station.
The lovely lakeside town of Arona near the southern end of Lake Maggiore has a number of magnificent mansion houses surrounded by extensive gardens bright with flowers. The first of the three houses described here is Villa Ponti, a favourite with the local people.
Villa Ponti: it is a venue for art exhibitions which frequently include paintings by world masters like Picasso and Kandinsky, and also hosts prestige events such as conferences, receptions and classical music concerts. The elegant villa was built near the Rocca (the ancient castle of Arona) about 1760 by Bartolomeo Pertossi, a wealthy merchant and supporter of Napoleon, who stayed here as Pertossi’s guest on his return from the Egyptian campaign. The monumental entrance of the Baroque façade has wrought iron balconies and windows embellished with finely worked grilles. The house is surrounded by 5,000 sq mt of grounds, with ancient beeches, silver cedars, magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons, and a fine Baroque fountain.
Villa Cantoni: built towards the end of the 19th century close to the ruins of the Rocca, this is one of the most sumptuous of the elegant mansion houses on Lake Maggiore. The forepart is topped with a pretty belvedere turret with stained glass windows. At the foot of the villa some intriguing artificial caves have been built under a semicircular platform. The superb, extensive garden includes a variety of exotic plants.
Villa Zuccoli: built over the remains of a 17th century convent, Villa Zuccoli was acquired in 1870 by the eminent family of goldsmiths who still own the property. The house has an enviable view over the southern part of Lake Maggiore and the mountains beyond. The extensive terraced grounds, embellished with some fine examples of Neoclassical structures, were landscaped by the Zuccolis on the slopes around the house which were once planted with vineyards. Perhaps the finest of the many valuable old trees on the property is the curving maritime pine that stands right in front of the mansion.
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