The town of Arco is located to the northern end of Lake Garda in the Trentino Alto Adige Region of northern Italy. The community is at the mouth of the Sarca Valley, in an attractive setting with sheer cliffs to one side and overlooked by a castle. The town also flanks the Sarca River valley which flows on into Garda Lake, and due to its position being protected by the mountains allows the area to maintain a mild climate. This has made the area to be a holiday resort for several centuries, and in recent years a rock climbing destination and mountain bike hub.
Arco is a mecca to most rock climbers and within the town you will find several outdoor shops.
Arco can be reached by regional bus from Rovereto or Trento. There is no train to the town.
A visit to Arco will usually start with a walk up to the castle. According to some sources, the construction of Arco castle originated in the Middle Ages, and was erected by the residents of Arco. Later the castle became the property of the local noble family of the Counts of Arco, who dominated these lands. The castle was abandoned during the 18th century following a siege by French troops in 1703. A careful restoration in 1986 and others in subsequent years have allowed the discovery and recovery of some cycles of frescoes depicting knights and court ladies of medieval times.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace - The houses of the old town, hugging the ancient castle cliff, offer an interesting route to follow through Arco, starting with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. This shrine and the nearby monastery were built between 1475 and 1492 at the behest of the local count. Over the following centuries the building has undergone several renovations, but arches and some columns with plain capitals dating from the early construction of the 15th century are still visible in the cloister. Inside, the shrine holds a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, probably also dating from the 15th century.
Collegiate Church of the Assumption - Enter the Collegiate Church of the Assumption, a 17th century work if the late Renaissance by G.M. Filippi, the architect of the Imperial Cour. ‘Collegiate’ seems to have come from the Latin term "Collegium", and indicates that there was once a community of priests who lived communally here. Inside the church, which has one aisle, there is a marble statue dedicated to the Assumption, perhaps by the sculptor Gabriele Cagliari da Verona.
Palazzo Marchetti - Among the civil buildings of interest in Arco note the Palazzo Marchetti. This building, originally called the “Palace of St Peter”, dates from the 16th century and is located on the east side of the Collegiate Church of the Assumption. The building was owned by Count Arco until the mid-19th century. Inside the building there are several cycles of frescoes from different ages and artists, while at the southern entrance of the building there is a prominent portal attributed to the painter and sculptor Giulio Romano (1499-1546).
Palazzo dei Panni - Another noteworthy Arco palace is the Palazzo dei Panni ('Palace of Cloths'), which was built in the last decades of the 17th century. Its construction was ordered by Count Gianbattista of Arco (died 1722) and a powerful witness of the local Counts of Arco is still visible on the portal, dominated by the family coat of arms. Near the end of the 18th century the building was converted into a woollen mill, from where the name of 'Cloths Palace' is likely to derive.
There is also a long tradition of good food here which we recommend you sample during a visit to Arco! The local cuisine is very tempting, especially in winter, with dishes such as potato “gnocchi” with bacon, “rucola” and “ricotta”, “Franciscan tagliatelle”, “ravioli” with bacon, apples and nuts with melted butter, “Spaghetti Guitar” with crisp vegetables, cream of potato and leeks with crispy bacon all being popular.