Varese: A City to Discover
In this article, we become acquainted with a city rich in history, art, nature, and entertainment.
Firs, Varese dates back to the Stone Age, while remainders of palafitte can be found in the Villa Mirabello Museum.
In the Middle Ages, Varese begin the theatre of a battle between Como and Milan, contributing to the defeat of Federico Barbarossa and reinforcing the bond with the Visconti family.
After the Swiss’ invasion, Spanish domination and pestilence, the city crossed over to a time of decadence until the intervention of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. He was a strong supporter of Monastery Santa Maria del Monte, which opened the street to the construction of the Shrine of Sacro Monte, a Baroque jewel that came into the world as symbol against Protestantism and in the peak of the 1628 plague (remembered in “Promessi Sposi” by Alessandro Manzoni).
In the 1700s, Varese experienced its biggest splendor, thanks to the Empress Maria Teresa of Austria. Proof of this is Palazzo Estense (headquarters of the town hall now) and its park, both built in the Viennese’s style.
In 1859, during the Wars of Independence, Garibaldi defeated Austrian troops; marking the development of industries like paper mills, tanneries, and shoe factories.
Between 1800 and 1900, Varese became a vacation destination for rich families that live in majestic houses or in the beautiful Liberty Style Hotel (like the famous Hotel Campo dei Fiori).
In 1927, Mussolini raised Varese to the level of Country Seat, enriching it with monumental architectures (like the post office or Piazza Montegrappa).
Villas (like Villa Toeplitz, Villa Panza, Villa Ponti), museums that shield tresures of art and history, gardens and wildlife reserves like Parco Campo dei Fiori , which hosts an important astronomical observatory, gave to this city the nickname of “Garden City” or “Little Versailles”.
But Varese isn’t only nature or history.
It’s also center of the International Festival of Short Films, named “Cortisonici,” and a cradle of sport teams (football teams, basketball teams, volleyball teams), as well as host to a big race course and a rowing society).
And cuisine? In Varese there are many restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias for all tastes and wallets. Old places and old s
igns are spread between the suggestive historic centre (animated by street markets, antiques stands, and handicraft stands during the weekends) and near streets.
For lovers of nightlife, it’s possible to have a drink in one of the most famous bars in the historic centre of Varese (relax, there is an embarassing wealth of options like trendy places, wine shops, or the famous “Scotsman”: a beautiful Scottish pub where all waiters wears kilts). After a drink, you can join friends in the central Piazza Montegrappa, a hangout for youth but also a place for shows and events.
Varese is a city rich in history, tourism, and culture that will surprise visitors with its atmosphere, hospitality, and that pinch of sophistication, which will satisfy everybody.
By Davide Corsini
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