Varese: Circular tour of the garden city
To: Piazza Monte Grappa
CHANGE IN ALTITUDE
Varese has been called the garden city for its many visitable villas with parks. The best way to see the city's most interesting sites is a circular route from the starting point of one of its best known squares.
Your itinerary begins from Piazza Monte Grappa, situated in the city's historic centre and featuring a tower with Varese’s flag on top and various Fascist era buildings built to mark Varese’s elevation to provincial capital status in 1927. Continue in the direction of Corso Matteotti, along the town's main street. It is the Varese high street par excellence and a pedestrian-only road lined with a great many cafés and stylish boutiques. If you follow the porticoes you get to Piazza del Podestà, site of 16th and 17th century townhouses arranged around a monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, referred to by the people of Varese as ‘il Garibaldino’. From here, through an arch, you can already catch a glimpse of Varese’s main church, Basilica di San Vittore, with its nearly 80 metre high belltower called ‘il Bernascone’ after the architect who designed it. Alongside it is Battistero di San Giovanni Battista, the town's oldest monument with a cycle of 14th century frescoes.
Now continue towards Piazza Giovine Italia, previously headquarters of the old civic theatre and now site of a great many cafés and restaurants.
Return in the direction of Corso Matteotti at the end of which is Piazza Carducci, with the former Sant’Antonio convent. On weekdays, if the door is open, you can visit the convent's original cloister. Retracing your steps to Corso Matteotti and returning in the direction of Piazza Monte Grappa, you are advised to have a look at Broletto, a courtyard closed off on three sides which opens up onto Piazza del Podestà.
Leaving the courtyard in the direction of Via Veratti, lastly, takes you to one of Varese’s symbol places. Palazzo Estense and its manicured gardens, with their characteristic fountain, ‘swan’ lake and geometric flowerbeds designed in accordance with French style. The beauty of the gardens is breathtaking and a great place to spend a few hours in the midst of nature. Built in the 18th century as a residence by Varese lord Francesco III d’Este, it links up to Villa Mirabello across the park. The building contains the city’s archaeological museums, surrounded by its own park and a natural monument, its hundreds of years old Lebanese cedar. Leaving Villa Mirabello and passing through Piazza della Motta with Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate, brings your circular route to an end at Piazza Monte Grappa again, a great place to relax to the sound of its fountain from the comfort of one of the square's cafés.
prima tappa: Corso Matteotti
seconda tappa: Piazza del Podestà
terza tappa: Piazza San Vittore con la Basilica (con il “Bernascone”)
quarta tappa: Battistero
quinta tappa: Piazza Giovane Italia
sesta tappa: Piazza Carducci (ex convento di Sant’Antonino)
settima tappa: Corso Matteotti
ottava tappa: Broletto
nona tappa: Giardini estensi con Palazzo Estense
decima tappa: Villa Mirabello
undicesima tappa: Piazza della Motta
dodicesima tappa: Piazza Monte Grappa
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