Map of Ballen for You climb the slope in front of the Della Scala Wing, faced in bleak Angera stone; in the left corner is the mighty Torre Principale, dating from the twelfth century. As you come round to the left, you face the Visconti Wing, with arched windows and a small double staircase. Left of here, pass through an elegant seventeenth-century triple-arched portico in the Borromeo Wing and turn to the right to climb the staircase into the fortress. Sala di Giustizia At the top of the stairs, ahead lie half a dozen grand rooms filled with Borromeo family portraits, but if you double back on yourself you’ll find the stunning Sala della Giustizia (Law Court), a large room with two fluted cross-vaults. Its six bays, each with mullioned windows, are covered by a thirteenth-century fresco cycle showing the Visconti success at the Battle of Desio in 1277, with the military exploits related, in the upper registers, to the signs of the zodiac. Wooden stairs at the far end climb to the top of the Torre Principale, for spectacular lake views. The museum and gardens Ground-floor rooms in the various wings of the castle are given over to the diverting Museo della Bambola e del Giocattolo (Museum of Dolls and Toys), one of the most complete collections in Europe, while the esplanade showcases a carefully planted medieval garden. ARRIVAL AND INFORMATION ANGERA By car The road journey from Arona is 16km around the end of the lake, past malls, multiplex cinemas and camping superstores, crossing a bridge over the Ticino at Sesto Calende (see p.155). Map of Ballen 2016.
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