ROCCA DI ANGERA ON LAKE MAGGIORE
The Rocca di Angera fortress stands majestically on a rocky spur dominating the southern shore of Lake Maggiore. Strategically positioned to control trade movements, it was first owned by the Visconti family, who originally came from Verbano, until 1449 when it was purchased by the Borromeo family, to whom it still belongs today.
Once inside the complex, visitors follow a fascinating route which leads them to the discovery of the imposing Historical Halls, recently embellished by the addition of the Majolica Room, which contains an extraordinary collection of three hundred extremely rare pieces. As its name suggests, the Museum of Dolls and Toys, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, retraces the history of dolls and toys through the evolution of materials used in their production, socio-educational trends and examines links with art, costumes and fashion from the past and present.
As you leave the museum, you will enter the highly prized Medieval Garden, which is steeped in symbolic significance, and was created as the result of meticulous studies of codes, historical documents and images from illuminated manuscripts.
THE HISTORY OF ROCCA DI ANGERA ON LAKE MAGGIORE
THE HISTORICAL HALLS
The spectacular Rocca di Angera is the perfectly harmonious result of five separate buildings, erected from the century following the year 1000 through to the 17th century: namely, the Castellana Tower, the Scaligera Wing, the Visconti Wing, the Tower of Giovanni Visconti and the Borromeo Wing. It is impossible not to be astounded by the sheer size and grandeur of the fortress and by the solemnity of the Buon Romano Hall, the Mythology Hall, the Hall of Ceremonies, the San Carlo Hall and the Borromeo Hall, where large canvases, portraits and furnishings transport us back to ancient times. The Hall of Justice is particularly important and houses a cycle of frescoes painted in the 13th century by an anonymous artist known as the 'Master of Angera'. The depiction narrates events from the life of Archbishop Ottone Visconti and in particular illustrates his victory over the Torriani in the Battle of Desio in 1227.
THE DOLL AND TOY MUSEUM
Founded in 1988 by Princess Bona Borromeo Arese, the Museum of Dolls and Toys exhibits over a thousand dolls produced between the 18th century and the present day, using some of the best known and most popular materials associated with ancient tradition: for example, wood, wax, papier-mâché, porcelain and fabric. Given the high quality, variety and rarity of the collection, this museum ranks among the most important in Europe in this field. The exhibition is divided into twelve rooms, each exploring a separate monothematic section: one is dedicated to dolls and toys from non-European cultures, another to the collection of the Petit Musée du Costume in Tours, curated by Giséle Pesché, consisting of an extraordinary collection of 19th century French and German automata.
THE MEDIEVAL GARDEN
The Medieval Garden at Rocca di Angera is gradually becoming a true 'Centre of Interpretation of the Middle Ages', aimed at enthusiasts, families and schools. It has been a progressive journey, and the final step involved a grand project to recreate and restore the medieval gardens. To achieve this, a meticulous study was carried out on the codes and documents from this period, resulting in a temporary exhibition which displayed three types of medieval gardens: the Garden of the Princes, the Vegetable Garden and the Garden of Small Herbs. Subsequently, these gardens were actually created and permanently installed on the large esplanade overlooking Lake Maggiore. In addition, the Borromeo family’s master gardeners have embarked on a complex and ongoing initiative that has already begun and will gradually continue to enhance and complement the elements that were described in those ancient codes, year after year.
FACILITIES AND SERVICES
Rocca di Angera is a magical alchemy of extraordinary panoramas, spacious courtyards, refined halls and frescoed vaults. This medieval castle is a dream location for organising truly unique and unforgettable moments and celebrating weddings and special events. Its doors open into spaces that have preserved an unparalleled atmosphere for centuries, with the spacious inner courtyard, the rustic wine cellar, the splendid panoramic terrace overlooking the lake, the spectacular Hall of Justice with its 14th-century frescoes, the imposing Ceremonial Hall, the San Carlo Hall, and the Hall of the Borromeo Splendours.