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How to get there
How to get to Fondotoce
By train


Railway stations o Ferrovie dello Stato, Milano - Domodossola line, station of Verbania. About every 20 minutes a bus in the direction of Fondotoce leaves from the square of the Station.

How to Get to Lagoni di Mercurago
By train


Railway stations o Ferrovie dello Stato, Milano - Domodossola line, station in Arona. From the station you can take a taxi or go ahead on foot in the direction of Mercurago di Arona, in about half an hour walk.

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2007 07:50 TO P.N. TO P.S. 10:27 VERBA-P

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4699 02:19 NOVARA 17:17 618 Alfieri Dettagli

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16:36 ARONA

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18:45 ARONA

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4729 02:35 NOVARA 19:31 2026 Dettagli

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4878 02:15 SANTHIA 20:55 2028 Dettagli

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TO095 02:50 NOVARA 22:17 2032 Dettagli

Lagoni di Mercurago
(Nature Park) The physical environment is represented by a peatbog situated in a hilly morainic area, with ponds and swamps of glacier origin, some of which are being progressively covered by the soil. The aquatic and palustrine flora is particularly interesting with some important specimens of Nymphaeaceae, Droseraceae, Onagraceae, Lentibulariaceae, Juncaceae, and Cyperaceae. In 1983 a new species was discovered in the park, theCrepidotus roseoornatus. Three quarters of the surface are covered by woods characterized by the presence of different species according to the area: common oak, Turkey oak, chestnut tree, birch, European aspen, or Scotch pine, and in the wettest areas of willows, ash trees, and black alders. It is worth signalling the presence of the white pine, the pitch pine, and the locust tree, in addition to an artificial pine forest of about 30 hectares. The underwood is dominated by acidophilic species (mainly hazelnut and common elder). The fauna is represented by chiropters, insectivores, and small rodents. Moreover, in the park hundreds of bird species nest, spend the winter, or simply pass through the area.

Inside the Park, there are 19 marked trails with which you can follow four thematic itineraries:
• • • •

Archaeology: the roman burial grounds etc. Woods: the trees and their association inside the park Productive activities: the breeding of horses and some old farms Wetlands: the ponds, the moorlands and some flesh-eating plant

You can also follow the mountain bike track and a foot track that crosses the entire Park.

Head office and isiting centre at Mercurago di Arona (No), via Gattico 6.

Churches and Abbey of Arona

Itineraries From the Park all around
On top of Arona old town two churches stand side by side - St. Mary's, the Martyrs', and the remains of the Benedictine Abbey. Founded at the end of 11th century, the latter soon became the most important monastery in the area, enriched by many land legacies from the towns in the Park: Mercurago, Dormello, Dormelletto, Comignago ed Oleggio Castello. From 1573 to 1773 it was a Jesuit House, later on it was sold to private owners. The remaining Abbey buildings date from the 15th and the 16th centuries; they were modified over and over and today house the Municipality offices. The southern cloister is the best preserved part. The church dedicated to martyrs Graziano, Felino, Fedele and Carpoforo houses, among other works of art, the altarpiecedepicting the Madonna on the throne, by Borgognone (1489). It replaced the 11th century Abbey church destryed at the end of the 15th century. The structure of the abse with its two span dates of the late 15th century - early 16th century. The third span and the facade go back to the first half of the 18th century. St. Mary's church is first mentioned in a 1172 document. In 1271 it depended on the Abbey. Nevertheless, the bell tower is in Romanic style, maybe from the late 11th century; it was overbuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The small Romanic church connected to it was repalced by the present-day one with three aisles, consacrated in 1488 and modified over and over again. It was a wealth of cerimonial vestement and vassel, together with paintings such as Gaudenzio Ferrari's Polyptych, a Marian cycle in six parts (wich can be dated about 1619) by Morazzone, the Burial of Christ and the Madonna on the throne surronded by Saints, anonimous frescoes by late 15th century artists. Under the four part portal of the rectory a collection of tombstones and ancient findings from the sourrondings area was installed in the late 19th century.

Other informations about itineraries From the Park all around are available on this web site, and nearby the described monument, in English. Information provided by GASMA (Arona's Archeological, Historical, Mineralogical Group) For guided tours please contact Associazione ProntoGuide The Town's Archeological Museum is the last step of the itinerary coming from the Park. Here are exhibited many of the artifacts found in the Park. The mould of wooden wheel bears witness of the well documented Bronze Age in the former peat bog of the Lake, where remains of hust and pile of dwellings, as well as ceramic vases and tools were found. Many well preserved vases and bronze jewels as fibulae, rings, lockets, clasps, belt hooks and beads come from the Golasecca necropolis of Motto Lagone (Iron Age, second half of the 6th - beginnig of the 5th century BC). Several 2nd - 3rd century Roman cinerary urns were found in the Rio Caneva necropolis, situated in the woods of Comignago, inside the Park. Non less important are other ancient artifacts from the surronding

towns, all collected since the '70s and brought here by Arona's Archeological, Historical, Mineralogical Group.

Saint George, Mercurago
Mercurago's inhabited area lies on the first range of hills, below the Park hills. There were found huts and piledwelling from the Bronze Age around and inside the main lake, and a small Golasecca necropolis at Motto Lagone. The various artifact found at Lagone in 1860 - 70 are dated about 1800 - 1600 and 1450 - 1300 BC. The burial decorations from Motto Lagone date from half of the 6th - beginnig of the 5th century BC. The territory closer to urban Mercurago gave other artifact: fragments from Gallic vase beyond the "Castle Hill" and the tomb of a Longobard warrior (7th century AD) at the border with Dormello. Most of all, the hilltop was a sacred site in ancient time: in fact from under the church come to Roman stone inscriptions dedicated to the Matrones and to Mercury (2nd and 1st century AD), and fragments from an altarpiece inserted in a pillar from the hall. The very name of Mercurago seems to come from a Roman owner called Mercurius and not from the god af the same name, as was formerly thought. The town was first mentioned in 11th or even 12th century documents, while the castle was first mentioned in as early as 1223. The church of Saint George, first mentioned in documents in 1351, possesses an even older bell tower. The regular aisle, bearing on it, goes back to the 16th century. It has a barrel-shaped vault with lunettes. Between 1884 and 1885 an octagonal structure, by architect Ercole Marietti, was added to the facade. In 1939 the interior was completely decorated in neo renaissance style from the "Beato Angelico School", on a plan by Professor Coccoli. The painting of an angel on an external niche on the left of the aisle goes back to the 16th century.


Violet path (about 6 Km long)
At the real beginning of "Gattico" street climb the "Stra' di Pianel da Gatic" till the crossing with "Stra' di Sell". Along the way close to "Motto Lagoni" is visible the first panel which explains to the visitors the ancient civilizations of this the area. Here one of the cemeteries of the Golasecca culture was discovered (Iron era, VI-V century BC). Some of the remains are visible in the Arona museum. Walking then along the "Sente' dal Foss" a second panel describes an ancient Roman cemetery of the II-III century AC and the relevant findings, some of them visible also in the Arona museum. It moreover details the impact of the Roman civilization in the area of southern Major Lake. A third panel is close to a second ancient Roman cemetery restored by the "Societa' Lombarda di Archeologia di Milano" under the supervision of the "Soprintendenza Archeologica of Piemonte" having the Park as the sponsor. To reach it, walk shortly trough the highest part of the "Sente' dal Custon". On the right, on the top of a small hill at the border of an artificial Pine area, 10 well restored tombs are visible. Get then the same path back to reach the Lagone.

Here the forth and last panel explains the history of the oldest inhabitants of the area the "men of the pile dwellings" (XVIII and XIII century a.C). A lot of findings have been discovered around, as the famous wooden wheels and dug-out canoe, ceramics, metallic arms and ornaments and flint stone tools. Some of these findings are visible in the "Antiquity" museum of Turin. "Stra' di Lagon" and then "Stra' di Pianel from Gatic" leads you back to the starting point.


Red path (about 12 Km long)
About three quarters the surface of the Park is covered by woods that, even if degraded by the human activities and by the cyclone of 21st July 2003, clearly preserve the characteristics of the original oak wood with predominance of Oak, Birch, Pine on the hills and black Alder in the humid areas. All along the marked path it is possible to see (if you are lucky and skilled) some specimen of the typical wild fauna of this environment like: Squirrels and small Rodents, Hares, about eighty different species of Birds living in the wood or into small open areas, Amphibious, Reptiles, common Invertebrates and quite exceptionally some Stone Marten, Weasel or Fox. This path starts from "Stra' di Valett" and, through a zone in which the oak wood is clearly visible but also the "robinieto", it reaches first "Stra' di Pianel da Gatic" and then the "Sente' di Busch": the Robinia is competing for the available areas with the Oak. Other species like the Chestnut, Birch, wild Cherry tree and Linden are also present. The first part of the "Sente' di Busch", not included in the marked path, allows to admire the best specimen of Pine, Oak, Birch, Chestnut trees and most of all robinie. It is probably the most interesting area of the protected zone but, unfortunately, also the most devastated by the 21st July '03 cyclone. The "Sente' di Busch" has to be followed till the crossing with "Stra' di Pianel from Gatic" where it is necessary to turn left, to follow for short distance the "Sente' dal Mótt" and the "Stra' di Sell"; then the "Sente' dal Foss" and finally the "Sente' dal Custon". The latest one crosses an area of heath where Oak is becoming rare, the Birch is acting as a pioneer and different species of Pine are present. Later on, along "Stra' d'la Buscarola" and "Stra' Nova dal Pinin" the path is surrounded by two completely different wooden areas: on the right one artificial pinewood, where the quietness of the area suggest to rest or to follow an alternative path; on the left the typical mixed forest, with nice specimen of big Oaks and Pines. Along "Stra' from the Muntasc" are clearly visible the effects of the unregulated human actions (before the Park came along); where Chestnut wood and Robinia are together, but some specimen of Oaks are also present. The last part of the path ("Stra' di Lagon ", "Sente' dal Mótt" and "Stra' di Valett") leads back to the starting point through a zone in which, with the exception for the area around to the Lagone, only the high trunk Robinia is present (spectacular its blossoming in Spring) in the neglected areas. The vegetation of the undergrowth is dominated by the Hazel, the Elder but also Fern, Brugo, Blueberry, May flower, Luzula spp., Lily of the valley, Pervinca, Fern female, Briar, Barnacle, Anemone nemorosa are present. Important is the presence of species totally protected like the Gentiana pneumonanthe and the Osmunda regalis. Approximately 150 the species of fungi taken are accounted for like the endemic Crepidotus roseoornatus.

The PRODUCTIVE Activities
Orange path (about 12,5 Km long)
One of the most important productive activity inside the Park is the breeding of racing horses, with a tradition that was started well back at the beginning of the XX Century. (Well known are the breeder F. Tesio and the Dormello-Olgiata horses). In addition some artificial cultivations of the “Strobo” Pine in the southern area, some small “part time” farms and the remains, still quite visible today, of the agricultural activities still important in the '60 (vineyards, orchards, cereals, gardens).

The woods are currently extremely fragmentised and not well preserved. The path starts not far from the Park's visit center, with "Stra' di Valett" and then "Sente' dal Mótt", going along the borders of an area called "Nusitt" (Nusitt in the local dialect means small walnut). Not far from there are the pastures of the "Surga", the most important of the two companies dedicated to the breeding of the purebreds horses: the “S.A.S. Allevamento Lagoni”. Later on along the "Stra' di Lagon", the farmsteads "Surga" and "Lagoni" are visible. Left behind the Lagone, along the "Stra' dal Muntasc" the horse farm "Cucchetta" is visible together with the "Cascina Camott" a small agricultural farm. When "Stra' dal Muntasc" is turning south, on the side there are the pastures of the Montaccio, (owned by the S.A.S. Lagoni Breeding). Walk for a while along the municipal road Dormelletto-Comignago at the Park border, and then cross this border close to the "Cascina Bergamina", where there is a sawmill. The path remains on the borders of artificial pine area (approximately 30 hectares, heavily damaged by the cyclone on 21 July 2003). Going all over "Stra' d’la Buscarola", it reaches the “Cascina Buscarola”, an old farm. Just in front of it the buildings of a modern bovine farm are visible. Going all over the "Sente' dal Custon” and then "Stra' d’la Buscarola", the path reach the "Torbera" meadow (an old farmstead in ruins) where there is a horses training area. Reached again the Lagone, you can follow the same road as at the beginning toward the visitor center of the Park. Out of this path there are some small farmsteads called “Bagaini” (coming from Oleggio Castello, at the beginning of "Stra' dal Bagain"); “Pulette” (on “Stra' di Pianel da Gatic) and “Riviera” (on the right site of Gattico street, before the Park ).

In the summer of 1800 Stendhal watched as Arona's fortified castle was
demolished and described it as follows: "an impregnable fortress encircled by five walls that render access impossible, with a tall slender tower topped by a waving flag". Today little remains of this monument and only the designs of a project mentioned in the historical archives of the Borromeo family are left to us of its surrounding gardens, which would have been located below the fortress just above the medieval village, between the Porta Principale (Principal Door) and the "Torre degli Innocenti". They were to have been planted on four long terraces connected by double flights of steps down the middle and surmounted by a Baroque temple carved in the limestone. Just outside of the castle walls an artificial grotto would have been carved out of the limestone walls at the top of the gardens belonging to the Pecco-Gajo property.The project was never completed, perhaps because of military requirements, since the garden would have occupied an area just outside the walls of the fortress. Today a verdant park offers visitors the opportunity to spend a special day around the pond located there or at the children's playground.

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