The Statue of Liberty is not entirely original and unique in the world as many believe; majestic, evocative, quarry and can be visited from inside, it is born from an Italian idea. Just outside the center of Arona, along the road that goes up towards the Alto Vergante, a statue dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo stands out; built with the same technique, but “previous” to that representing U.S.A.
The Statue of Liberty was actually born in 1610, after the canonization of San Carlo Borromeo. The cousin, Cardinal Federico Borromeo, famous for the Manzonian events of the Promessi sposi; he wanted to dedicate to his predecessor a Sacred Mount and a statue. The monumental statue, then begun in 1614 and finished in 1697 by Bernardo Falconi and Siro Zanelli, on models by Cerano.
The Colossus of San Carlo Borromeo, called “Sancarlone“, conceals a staircase inside. You can climb up to the top of the statue from where you can see all the surrounding landscape. At one point, there are two ladders that lead to different points of the head, where six people can be together. The climb is quite steep, it takes place in turns. Visitors can climb a few at a time, and look out from the “windows” of the statue. You can see the horizon directly on the lake from the nose, a unique spectacle!
In fact, the colossus dedicated to San Carlo is the second metal statue, depicting a human figure visible from the inside, highest in the world; after the Statue of Liberty in New York. Few people know that Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who later designed the Statue of Liberty, stayed in the city of Arona to study the structure of the colossus well. In this regard, the lucky tourists will be able to find at the foot of the most famous American statue, a plaque that recalls the link between the two “giants”.
The plaque under the NY statue with the torch, recalls the link with the San Carlo di Arona model. Two centuries after the Italian statue dedicated to the saint, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed a larger colossus; which would have become one of the most photographed and reproduced in the world. The American statue was then created by Gustave Eiffel, a gift from France, assembled in New York.
The statue of liberty inspired by Italy
Therefore, the statue of the “San Carlone” was not simply a source of inspiration, but rather a true model to trace for a unique and colossal work; the symbol of the United States. The Statue of Liberty, which represents the country of opportunities where everything is possible, the first thing our emigrants saw; born as the story tells, certainly from the Colossus of Rhodes, but above all from the statue of San Carlo di Arona.
Few people know that the restoration of the American statue was led by an Italian-American and that perhaps there is another link with Italy. In the beautiful Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, there is an enchanting sculpture that remembers so much, especially in the pose of the female figure; the famous American monument, of later construction. The work is called “Freedom of Poetry“, created between 1870 and 1883, a really interesting coincidence!