Images of Varese and its province - photographers are Fulvio Buzzi and Marco Guariglia
The historic center of Varese
The historic center is characterized by its porches and patios. Piazza Monte Grappa is the node where all paths converge in the city. Corso Matteotti, which in the past was the town’s main street, is now a pedestrian area with many historic buildings and elegant shops. Among the most important monuments are the Basilica di San Vittore and its bell tower, which are typical Lombard buildings of the era. The adjoining Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista, built in the Romanesque period, conserves frescoes of the Lombard style of the 300s and is the oldest monument of Varese.
Varese and particularly the area towards the Sacro Monte and Campo dei Fiori is full of Art Nouveau buildings. Among the most important buildings are the Grand Hotel Campo dei Fiori, Belvedere Restaurant, the funicular railway station, Kursaal Theatre, Palace Grand Hotel and the Brewery Poretti.
Villas and parks
Estense Palace, now the Town Hall, is the national monument of greatest importance. It used to be the residence of Francesco III d'Este, Duke of Modena and Lord of Varese. Behind the palace lie the Estensi Gardens, among the most enchanting Italian public parks, inspired by Schonbrunn gardens in Vienna. The park communicates with Villa Mirabello, now the headquarters of the Civic Museums. The Villa boasts a garden with trees of great beauty.
Villa Recalcati, located in Casbeno, was the site of the Grand Hotel Excelsior, which used to host celebrities. Today is the seat of the Province of Varese and the Prefecture, with a park open to the public.
Towards the north of Varese, on the top Biumo hill, surrounded by a large park, there are the Villa Ponti, which today serve as convention center. Adjacent to the Ponti park is the Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza (FAI heritage) which is also surrounded by a beautiful Italian garden and renown for the great private collection of contemporary American art.
Within the Sant'Ambrogio area rises Villa Toeplitz. The park of the villa is characterized by a rich variety of exotic plant species, paths and water features.
In Bisuschio, the elegant house Villa Cicogna Mozzoni is in Lombard Renaissance style and owns a large park with gardens, statues, fountains and centuries-old specimens.
Approximately 20km from Varese, in Casalzuigno, is the Villa della Porta Bozzolo (FAI heritage). Built in the sixteenth Century as a country residence, it became a noble residence and was embellished by an Italian garden in the eighteenth Century.
Castles, towers and fortresses
The province of Varese is a frontier territory, characterized by historic castles, fortresses and signal towers.
The Tower of Velate, medieval tower, FAI heritage.
Castle Castiglioni Mantegazza Masnago, now the Contemporary Art Gallery and temporary exhibitions.
Borromeo of Angera Fortress, which stands on a spectacular rocky outcrop of Lake Maggiore.
Among the many castles of the province, the Visconti Castle of Fagnano Olona, the Visconti Castle of Cislago, Castle Doctors in Induno Olona, the Visconti Castle of Jerago con Orago and the Visconti Castle of St. Vito in Somma Lombardo.
In Gornate Olona, nestled in the woods in the Varese foothills of Castelseprio archaeological park, is the Monastery of Torba.First serving as a military outpost in the late Roman Empire, it later became a place of Benedictine religious worship. It was later abandoned and used as a rural farmhouse until it was donated to the FAI - which carried out its restoration and recovery works. Further suggested visits include the impressive Santa Caterina del Sasso in Leggiuno rising on sheer rock on Lake Maggiore.
The small town of Arcumeggia, known as "Painted Town", with the external walls of houses painted by contemporary artists, is a real art gallery in the open sky.
Others painted villages are located in Marchirolo, Boarezzo, Peveranza, Runo, Olona and in the district of San Fermo in Varese.
Castiglione Olona,referred to as "Island of Tuscany in Lombardy", is a hamlet rich in history and art. The most important monument is the Collegiate, which includes the Church and the Baptistery.
Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Monte
Santa Maria del Monte is part of the serial site "The Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and Lombardy".
The Sacro Monte di Varese is a place of worship and Marian faith, whose origins date back to the Romanesque period. It is said that St. Ambrose, won the Aryans, built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. As of the fifteenth century, it serves as a monastery, and is still inhabited by the Romite Ambrosiane Sisters. . In 1604 the Sacred Way of the Rosary Chapel is born. The route follows the sharp progression of the mountain, scattering fourteen chapels each depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary, all different from one another and arranged according to precise architectural and spatial theories. Along the avenue are inserted three arches and three fountains and, just before the Sanctuary, the statue of Moses. The town of Santa Maria del Monte hides among its lanes, interesting architectural elements, an evidence of a glorious past.
Virginia Isle, Bodio Center, Sabbione
The serial site "Siti palafitticoli preistorici dell'arco alpino"includes three pile-dwelling settlements within the Varese lakes.
The Virginia Isle, located in Varese Lake, opposite Biandronno, has been inhabited since the early Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age.
The discoveries in the center of Bodio Lomnago documents the life in the Bronze Age.
The settlement of Sabbione, located in Cadrezzate on Monate Lake, dates between the seventeenth and sixteenth Century B.C.
The Lombard network center
The Castelseprio castrum, together with the Church of Santa Maria Foris Portas, and the Monastery of Torba, is part of the serial site " I Longobardi in Italia".
Places of the power (568-774 AD) which includes the most important Lombard monumental testimony on Italian soil.Monte San Giorgio-Clivio / Besano / Viggiù (VA) -Mendrisio / Brusino Arsizio (CH)
The city of Varese is known for its sports facilities and the many possibilities of outdoor activities in a wonderful landscapes.
The Varese area offers over 100 km of bike paths and several routes for montain bikers. Around the Varese Lake there is a 27km-long cycling track. The nearby bike path of Comabbio Lake is about 10 kilometers long.
The province of Varese boasts a large number of traking routes of different levels and intensity. One can find simple walks in the woods as well as several spots for rock climbing. A prominent itinerary and is certainly the ‘3V’: Via Verde Varesina, which winds between the Varese Lake, Lugano Lake and Great Lake over a distance of 184km. For climbing adventures, one can rely on the mountain Campo dei Fiori, also known as Monte Tre Croci. Other locations are Brezzo di Bedero, Cassano Valcuvia, Monte Orsa and San Martino.
Golf perfectly fits the landscape of the region, rich in green hills and postcard horizons. The most popular golf courses are the Golf Club Luvinate and the Golf Club Panorama.
The equestrian centers in the area offer many possibilities' for horse riding.
The ippodromo delle Bettole organizes gallop races throughout the year.
In the province of Varese, the art of rowing, recognized internationally, is supported by 13 rowing clubs. The optimal characteristics of the waters of the lakes of Varese, Comabbio and Monate are ideal racetracks in addition to a landscape of undeniable charm.
There are several sailing clubs which offer the opportunity to experience memorable adventures with the lakes.
To fully enjoy the region’s landscapes from a privileged view:
Aero club Adele Orsi - Varese
Aero Club di Varese - Venegono Inferiore
Aero Club Alessandro Passaleva - Vergiate
Varese is located close to renowned ski resorts in the Italian and Swiss Alps. However, one can ski or practice cross-country skiing even in the province of Varese.
Centro fondo Brinzio
Sci Club Cunardo
Passo della Forcora - Luino (VA)
The city’s popular Palazzetto del Ghiaccio is the ideal spot to rent all necessary equipment and to enjoy ice-skating.
Varese Lake is situated on a green valley at the foot of the Campo dei Fiori and with the chain of the Alps crowned by the Monte Rosa in the background, offering a panorama of incredible charm. At the center of the lake stands Virginia Isle, on which was discovered a major pile-dwelling settlement from the Neolithic Age and embellished by jewels, utensils and furnishings.
Around the lake runs a walking and 27km-long cycling track. The luxuriant nature, the blue of the lake, picnic areas and the numerous sites of cultural interest, make such lakeside walk one of the most beautiful in the province, which makes it a unique opportunity to learn about the lake and its pleasant environment. South of the lake, one can access a marshy area rich in natural vegetation and varied wildlife, known as the Natural Reserve of Brabbia Swamp.
Monate Lake spreads next to Comabbio Lake and Varese Lake. Its very calm waters are surrounded by meadows, forests and residential villas. Monate Lake is one of the few glacial basins where bathing is allowed. There are various beaches for refreshing summer bathing with the possibility to also rent pedal boats and canoes. Motor boats are yet prohibited.
Of glacial origin, the Maggiore Lake is the largest of the subalpine lakes. It washes the shores of Lombardy, Piedmont and Switzerland. On its banks there are numerous tourist centers that offer pleasant and picturesque lakeside walks.
Recommended visits on the Maggiore Lake are:
ISOLA BELLA: Borromeo Palace and Garden
UPPER ISLAND: Typical village of Fishermen
ISLAND MOTHER: Borromeo Palace and Garden
ARONA: Colossus of St. Charles Borromeo
ANGERA: Rocca Borromeo
SANTA CATERINA: Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso
CANNERO RIVIERA: Cannero Castles ruins medieval fortresses
CANNOBIO: Santuario della Pietà
Carciano Cable Car Alpinia Botanical Garden and Mottarone summit
STRESA: Botanical Park of Villa Pallavicino
PALLANZA: Gardens of Villa Taranto Botanical
Ceresio Lake (or Lugano Lake)
Only a small portion of Ceresio Lake falls within the province of Varese, while it actually extends for the most part in Switzerland. From the beautiful mountains that overlook the lake, one can enjoy exceptional views of the towns that lie on its shores, which are the ideal destinations for tourists in search of tranquility, and a green and relaxing atmosphere. There are numerous possibilities for excursions on foot or mountain bike.
In the province there are several small lakes, typical of the locality, scattered here and there between the valleys, each with its own variety of unique landscapes: from the shores of Delio Lake (ca. 930m above sea level) to the lakes of Ganna and Ghirla, the Lago di Brinzio and thel laghetto di Biandronno, which has given rise to an important wetland area protected as a nature reserve.
The Park extends north of Varese, between the Valganna, Valcuvia and Varese Lake. The protected area includes 17 municipalities and two mountain communities. The Park offers a hiking network of 16 trails, theme paths and nature reserves, all easily accessible on foot or by mountain bike. The vegetation is very diverse, including chestnut and beech trees, the rocky flora areas and wetlands, rich in the fauna.
Mount Campo dei Fiori (1227m) is the first sub-Alpine province of Varese and offers many sights from which one can appreciate the view of the lakes, the plain and, on clear days, the spikes of Milan's Cathedral.
On Punta Paradiso is the Citadel of Science and Nature, the scientific headquarters of Schiaparelli Astronomical Society. The Citadel includes the Astronomical Observatory, the Montano Garden for the conservation of biodiversity, the Botanic Study Center, the Geophysical Center, the cold experimental Greenhouse, the Meteorological Observatory and the Seismic Observatory.
The Ticino Park stretches from the Great Lake to where the Ticino and Po rivers converge (a total area of about 92 thousand hectares). Thanks to its wealth of nature, landscapes, art and history, the Ticino Valley is a popular tourist destination.
The Park offers a network of cycle and pedestrian paths called ‘Vie Verdi del Ticino’ covering a total of 780km. In an area of high biodiversity with waterways, forests, moors, wetlands, agricultural plain: the typical vegetation of the ancient Po forest. It is an opportunity to spend a day in the outdoors in the typical natural wealth of the park and its flora.