The Garden City
Have you ever been to Varese? Varese is my city; the city where I was born and the city where I live. This little town is ubicated close to the Switzerland border: it is not a big city but it has a lot of places to visit; are you ready to explore? Let’s go.
Varese city centre
The city centre, with its historical buildings, starts from Piazza Montegrappa: here there are a big fountain and bars with terraces; there is also the “Torre civica” (city tower) and, sometimes, it is open to the pubblic. Very close to the square there is the pedestrian way “Corso Matteotti”. The Corso has a lot of famous stores and historical cafeterias and at the end of the street, you will reach the Piazza Carducci and via Carlo Cattaneo: here starts the “nightlife street“, a place with a lot of pubs and bars, very full of people during the weekend.
Palazzo and Giardini Estensi
Palazzo Estense was the residence of Duke d’Este; the inspiration to built the palace and the gardens, came from the Schonbrunn Palace in Wien. Giacomo Leopardi, an italian writer, called this place “the little Versailles“. The gardens were finished around 1787 and nowadays are open to the pubblic; on the contrary the palace is closed because inside there are the city Hall’s offices. All over the gardens there are places to relax, bars, a lake with swans and there is also a museum: the archeologic museum of Villa Mirabello; the museum contains historical finds from from neolitic age to bronze age. Villa Mirabello has also a bar with terraces with the view on the gardens.
The Sacro Monte (sacred mount) was built from 1604 to 1623; the itinerary is composed by 2 km of sacred streets and 14 chapels telling the mistery of the rosary. At the top there is Saint Mary’s Sanctuary; to reach the top there are also railways (funicolare) and buses. Funicolare is not always open: be sure of it by checking the web site. The Sacred Mount is a Unesco site. From the top the view is amazing: when the sky is clean, it is possible to see the lakes and also the city of Milan on the horizon.
Parco Campo dei fiori
Campo dei fiori is a regional park very close to the Sacred Mount. Inside the park, there are something like 30 caves and also six natural reserves:
- Lake Ganna reserve,
- Lake Brinzio reserve,
- Torbiera Pau Majur,
- Torbiera del Carecc,
- Mount Campo dei Fiori reserve,
- Martica-Chiusarella reserve
Into the woods, is not difficult to find wilds animals like boars, red foxes, squirrels, deer, roes, falcons and more…At the top of the mountain there is also the “Grand hotel” but unfortunately is now abandoned. There is a project for a restoration but nothing more at the moment. (Photo by Varesenews)
The Villas and the parks
Around the city there are a lot of historical villas with parks. Is for this reason that the city has been surnamed “the garden city“. Here the most beautiful Villas open to the pubblic.
Villa Toeplitz was built in 1901 and is ubicated in Sant’Ambrogio, close to the Sacred Mount. The villa has a big park with different species of plants and a lot of fountains. (Photos from La Prealpina and InLombardia)
Inside the park there are two villas: Villa Andrea Ponti, built in 1858 in venetian style and Villa Fabio Ponti, the Napoleonic Villa, built around the XVII century. The park is pubblic and the entry is free but the villas are open only for weddings or meetings. Ville Ponti are ubicated in Biumo, very close to the Varese city centre. (Photos from La provincia di Varese and Matrimoni e nozze.com)
Villa Litta Panza
Situated in front of Ville Ponti, Villa Litta Panza was built around 1600 and has a big park with a little lake. Inside the villa there is a magnificient neoclassic room and also an art collection donated by Giuseppe Panza: there are pieces from precolombian art, african art and contemporary art. The Villa is now managed by FAI. (Photo by fondo ambiente italiano).
Villa Torelli Mylius and Mylius Cafè
Another splendid villa with its amazing park, Villa Torelli Mylius was built around XVIII century. Nowadays the villa is not open to the pubblic but the park it is: you can enjoy a drink in the Mylius cafè in the middle of a relaxing atmosphere. (Photos from Varesenews and wikipedia).
Castello di Masnago
The castle is formed by different buildings upright in diffents ages: from middle age to 1700. The tower and the internal frescoes make the castle more similar at a noble residence than a defensive castle. The castle is surronded by Mantegazza park and a little botanic garden. Today, inside the castle, there is a museum. The entry ticket for the museum is 4 euros per person. (Photo from Vareseturismo.it).
Torre di Velate
The tower was part of a military fortress and it was built aroud XI century; close to the tower it was a connection route between Switzeland and Milan. The tower can be visited only by outside. (Photos from italiansway.com and flickr).
Lake Varese and Isolino Virginia
Lake Varese is one of the lake of the city: there is a 28 km bicycle lane all around the lake and from Biandronno (a little hamlet close to Varese) is it possible to take a boat and reach the Virginia island. Virginia island was the first preistorical site with stilts in this area; nowadays this place has becomed an UNESCO site. To have more info about lakes, read the article Lombardy and the lakes.
Well, there is more and more to visit, like the other little cities around Varese as Luino, Angera, Laveno Monbello etc…hope you like it and that you can come for a visit. For more information about cities, lakes, museums and palaces, check also on Vareseturismo.