How is it possible to reconcile the demands of people who adore landscapes and nature with those of their culture-vulture partners, while also satisfying young travelling companions who are passionate about trekking or cycling, without neglecting a touch of spirituality? The answer is simple: a holiday in the region of Varese and the lakes.
This destination, which borders Switzerland, achieves a perfect marriage of nature, art and religion. The “green province” is a highly appropriate moniker for an area that encompasses everything from large parks and nature reserves to lakes and mountains. Those looking to re-charge their batteries like never before will love it, as will those with a passion for hiking or riding bikes or motorbikes, who are sure to be amazed by the wonderful panoramas offered up by Lake Varese, Lake Comabbio and Lake Monate, alongside the many other, smaller lakes.
Also unmissable is a stop-off in the city of Varese itself, known as the ”garden city” thanks to the numerous parks to which it plays host, not to mention the myriad churches and holy sites that are very much worth a visit.
Be sure to plan a trip to the Sacro Monte del Rosario, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003: this 2 km-long sacred route takes in a full 14 chapels, each dedicated to the mysteries of the rosary. The effort required to make your way to the top is rendered worthwhile by the unique atmosphere generated by the beauty of the chapels and the climate of spirituality.
Admire the Palazzo Estense and his gardens
Visit the Basilica of San Vittore, which for centuries was the fulcrum of religious life in Varese
Make your way to the Borgo di Santa Maria del Monte, the village at the top of the Sacro Monte of Varese
Visit Lake Varese, with the Alps serving as the backdrop, and on particularly clear days take a trip up Monte Rosa
Visit Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza, which plays host to internationally important exhibitions
Take some shots of the panorama from the Funicular of the Sacro Monte
Explore the 150+ wonderful karst caves in the Campo dei Fiori nature reserve
Savour a relaxing day of art, history and nature at the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso
Go trekking or mountainbiking on Mount San Martino
Visit the Schiaparelli Astronomical Observatory, which affords eye-popping views of the lakes