The palace, basilica and castle of this enchanting city north of Milan lie between the Campo dei Fiori mountain range and Lake Varese.
Near Milan in northern Italy is Varese, a picturesque city surrounded by mountains and lakes. It is known for its historical landmarks, including a basilica, a palace and a castle. See the Campo dei Fiori mountain range on one side of the city and Lake Varese on the other.
In the city center, visit the 16th-century Basilica di San Vittore with an elegant façade full of columns and grand entrances. Atop its baroque bell tower are bells that chime throughout the day. Enjoy the neoclassical design of the basilica’s interior. Admire paintings inside the church by well-known 17th-century local artists. Browse the stores in the shopping area near the church.
Make your way to the baroque Estense Palace, built in 1760 for the duke Francesco III d’Este. Admire the elegant balconies of the pink-and-white buildings now used as the city’s Town Hall and a principal tourist attraction.
Behind the palace, stroll through the Estensi Gardens to see well-kept lawns and hedges. Have a drink or snack at the café on the grounds. Let your kids play at the children’s area or feed the ducks and swans in the lake.
The renovated Masnago Castle on the outskirts of Varese was owned by an aristocratic family in the 1500s. Admire the frescoes on its interior walls and discover historical relics from many different centuries. A guided tour is available.
Visit the Sacro Monte (Sacred Mountain) di Varese just north of the city. This 17th-century religious monument attracts pilgrims from around the world. Photograph the remarkable white building and its picturesque forest backdrop.
Varese is the site of a bitter 19th-century battle with Austrian forces. Now the city’s tranquil charm is the perfect partner for the Milanese urban sprawl and a pleasant escape for outdoor activities.
The city is about an hour’s drive north of Milan. Several railway stations scattered throughout the city provide excellent links to neighboring towns.