We wandered from the centre of Arona in Lake Maggiore with no particular direction in mind. However, the sign for Rocca di Arona peaked our curiosity so we headed in that up another hill towards it. On the way I saw a “nonna” hunched over moving slowly but with purpose. She had a leathery iron creased face and was clutching a spade. all set to do some hard core gardening. Italian Grannies are great.
Visiting Rocca di Arona
Rocca di Arona is a old fortress built on the top of a cliff which overlooks the town of Arona. It was practically demolished after the Neopolitan army received the order to destroy fortifications occupied by the Austrians. In 2011, a grant was received to restore the grounds and make the park usable again.
A collaboration of volunteers and organisations renovated the crumbling castle grounds. To show off their efforts before and after images were hung near the entrance. Walking through the stone archway we heard a noisy goose who was flapping his wings in the pond and making a raucous. As we walked further into the grounds towards the fence, the view revealed its self step by step. Being Saturday there were lots of Italian families gathered all laughing, chatting and full of life. We stopped at a bench and watched some goats climb to a high point of an old ruin.
Enjoying a beer with the view
We then spotted another outdoor terrace and sauntered in that direction. La Corte della Rocchette has tables for adults outside and a playground close by for the kids. Perfect. Inside is a cosy sparely decorated tavern, with wooden beamed ceilings and black and white photos on the walls. A 90th birthday was taking place outside. However, the birthday girl looked not a day over 70. The Italian family could have been part of a TV ad. The ladies in spectacular heels, dresses and men in crisp shirts. Made for great entertainment.
Our waitress came over and we ordered two Grimbergen. They were delivered with a large bowl of crisps. Moments later another platter of meats and breads arrived which I hadn’t ordered. Looking confused I said no, and waved my hand with a smile to indicate I hadn’t ordered it. The waitress looked even more bewildered. She said with a strong accent ‘aperitivo’ and placed the board on the table for the stupid tourists. Drinks in this region always come served with free nibbles.
UPDATE: We loved Italy so much we went back again. Check out our post on Bergamo !