Lombardia - Places to visit - Varese
This town lies 382 m. above sealevel on the gentle slopes of Sacro Monte and Campo dei Fiori (1,226 m.) descending towards the lake of the same name, approximately 10 km. from the Swiss border.
Probably of Gallic origin, it was, unlike the other main Lombard towns, of no importance in Roman times. From the Middle Ages, it belonged first to the Bishops of Milan, then to the Torrianis, the Viscontis and Facino Cane, coming into the hands of Francesco III d'Este, Duke of Modena, in 1765. Annexed to the Cisalpine Republic in 1797, it shared the vicissitudes of the Italian Risorgimento.
Monuments: Basilica di San Vittore (16th-17th century, paintings by Morazzone), Battistero (12th-13th century, Romanesque baptistery), Palazzo Estense (18th century with Italian garden), Villa Mirabello (18th century).
As far as the local economy is concerned, with one of the highest incomes pro capite in Italy, Varese is an industrial centre, the most important sectors being footwear, garments, household appliances and textiles. Its commerce prospers by the town's proximity to Switzerland and the excellent network of communications with Milan and other important towns in the Province. There is a significant tourist traffic, attracted by the nearby lakes.
Events: Theatrical performances and concerts in the Biumo villas (on the outskirts of the town).
Famous People: Gian Battista Grandi (artist, 1638-1718), Giuseppe Grandi (sculptor, 1843-1895).
Cultural Institutions: Civic museums (Museo del Risorgimento, Museo Archeologico), Russolo-Pratella Foundation, Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento.
In the Province: Busto Arsizio (industry and commerce), Saronno (food industry), Gallarate (industrial town, modern art gallery), Ispra (Euratom Research Centre), Luino (resort), Castelseprio (archeological area), Angera (Rocca dei Borromeo), Laveno Mombello (Civica Raccolta di Terraglia).