Collegiate Church of Santa Maria

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How to get

By car: A26, exit at Arona.
By train: Arona station is a short walk from the Collegiate Church.


The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria in Arona, dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin, is one of the buildings that best characterise the town.

The church stands in the medieval heart of Arona, a few metres from the monastic complex of the Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Martyrs. It has a sober, dignified appearance and contains in its interior a number of valuable art works, which are closely linked to the historical events of the town.

The Church was consecrated in 1488 but was completed only at the beginning of the 17th century, and underwent radical renovation and rebuilding work during the 19th century. Many works of great value are kept in the church. A Polyptych of the Nativity by the celebrated artist Gaudenzio Ferrari (1511) can be seen at the end of the left nave. This masterpiece is made up of six panels arranged in two registers and enclosed in a sumptuous frame made of inlaid, painted and gilded wood.

The side chapels conserve valuable 17th century paintings, attributed to Il Morazzone, depicting episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary. At the end of the side naves are a fresco attributed to Giovanni de Campo and an intriguing painting by Andrea Appiani, later the official painter at the court of Napoleon.

Next to the Collegiate Church is the Canonica or priest’s house, a quadrangular edifice with a courtyard and two-storey porticoes, built by order of Cardinal Federico Borromeo in 1608. Today it houses a rich collection of archaeological and artistic treasures: votive altars, a Roman sarcophagus, a Paleochristian inscription, stone tablets, Renaissance sculptures and fragments of frescos.