Lake Varese, situated at the base of the Campo dei Fiori mountain range, borders the city of Varese and eight other towns in the province. La Schiranna, a district of Varese that faces the lake, attracts tourists with its Zanzi Park and bike trail. The park, one of the city’s green oases, has tables that enable visitors to enjoy full days in the open air, surrounded by nature and amusement.
A gem of the lake is Isolino Virginia, a prehistoric site of global significance, easily accessible by boat from Biandronno and well connected to the bike trail of Lake Comabbio. The bike trail, about 30 km long, encircles the lake and offers a healthy sport activity, as well as scenic views. Lake Varese is only six kilometers from the city, and used to be the main economic resource of the area: it was on those shores that the first factories of the region were established, at the end of the 19th century.
This lake can fascinate any tourist from different parts of the world with its history that has turned it into almost a museum; in fact, wooden piles of ancient people and dating back thousands of years have been discovered. The first findings were made as early as 1863, and some of them are displayed in the museum located on Isolino Virginia, while others are carefully preserved in the Civic Museum of the Municipality of Varese, located in Villa Mirabello.
A visit to the park of Villa Toeplitz in Varese is a romantic and bucolic experience that will delight your senses. You can stroll along the paths and trails that crisscross the eight-hectare estate, and discover the beauty and diversity of its flora. From fountains and gardens to orchards and woods, the park offers a rich and varied landscape that reflects the eclectic style of the villa, built in the early twentieth century. Whether you prefer to admire the local or exotic plants, you will find something to suit your taste and curiosity in this enchanting place.
The porphyry steps from Cuasso al Monte create a majestic backdrop for the fountains that sparkle in pale blue mosaic and grey Carrara marble. The fountains are arranged in a geometric pattern that evokes the exotic gardens of the Mongolian rulers. The scene is a stunning display of art and architecture that blends different cultures and materials.
Milan’s “Little Versailles”
Palazzo Estense and its gardens in Varese were the subject of Giacomo Leopardi’s admiration. The Duke of Este, inspired by Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence in Vienna, built his own magnificent dwelling. A splendid parterre with low shrubs and flowers welcomes the visitors at the gate of honour. A fountain adorns the centre, while Belvedere hill provides a stunning panorama.
Prehistory at Isolino
Isolino Virginia, a small island near the western shore of Lago di Varese, offers a fascinating glimpse into the Neolithic culture of pile dwellings, which dates back to 3500 B.C. Archaeological excavations in the 1960s revealed a rich collection of artefacts made of quartz, flint and obsidian, such as chippings and arrowheads. These are now displayed in the civic Museum of Prehistory, which can be accessed by boat from Biandronno.
The museum also features an educational trail that illustrates the daily life and activities of the ancient pile dwellers. Isolino Virginia is part of the Unesco World Heritage List as a representative example of pile-dwelling sites.