Art and culture

Art is the place of perfect freedom.

André Suarès, Poète tragique, 1921




The territory of Lake Maggiore has always been a favorite destination for noble families who wanted to realize in these places some of the most beautiful villas in Italy.
The Borromeo Gulf is the most exponent of this elegant building architecture: Baveno, for example, is the elegant Villa Fedora, while in Stresa the beautiful Villa Aminta has become a luxury hotel. In Verbania-Pallanza the splendid Villa Giulia has become an important venue for numerous exhibitions, as well as Arona Villa Ponti hosts international exhibitions.
On the Lombard shore of Lake Maggiore, at Laveno Mombello, Villa De Angeli Frua is surrounded by a park rich in secular plants.
The strongholds of these luxurious buildings are in fact the gardens surrounding them: one of them is the Botanical Garden of Villa Taranto, whose floral beauties call back thousands of tourists all year round, but also the beautiful gardens of Isola Bella and Isola Mother.


Rare example of fortified medieval building, completely preserved, the castle stands on a limestone rock spur overlooking the southern part of Lake Maggiore. From the top of its tower you can admire a panorama of rare suggestion: the wide expanse of Lake Maggiore, Arona, the Prealps and the Alps make up a scenario of unusual beauty. Inside you can visit the Doll and Toy Museum.


Fishermen’s Island is the only habitually inhabited, albeit from a small community, while the two “sisters” islands are sought after by tourists who admire the two splendid palaces and gardens, famous all over Europe for the quality of the landscape And for the care and variety of plant architectures, made up of more than 2000 varieties of different species. In the Mother Island there is also a large number of oriental birds, such as white peacocks, golden pheasants and parrots, free in the beautiful garden. The most famous is the Isola Bella, a real island-palace, a precious piece of a system designed by the Borromeo as a park of wonders that, skillfully designed over the centuries, presents multicolored blooms throughout the year, rotation between the various floral species.
The Beautiful Island is “fantastic and unreal”: so Charles Dickens describes it in his Pictures from Italy “The wonderful day – he writes – was turning to sunset when we arrived at Lake Maggiore, cheerful of fairy islands. , The Beautiful Island is still beautiful, and any form that stands out from those blue waters can only be beautiful with that scenario. “What else to say after this very English recognition?


The Hermitage of St. Catherine of Sasso is a splendid 14th-century monastery that overlooks the waters of Lake Maggiore, in the municipality of Leggiuno. The facade of the church features a Renaissance arcade with four arches in its entirety, where the remains of a cycle of frescoes are preserved. The hermitage can only be reached on foot through a stairway that connects it on one side with a small agglomeration of houses equipped with car parking, on the other with a newly built port, at the service of Lake Maggiore Navigation. Since 2010, there is also a lift built in the rock.

Pipe museum – GAVIRATE

There are over 35,000 pipe models, a dozen French nineteenth-century wooden footsteps for woodworking, thousands of mouthpieces, canes, stoves … pieces for repairing old pipes, pipe samples from companies around the world, Designs and Plans Alberto Paronchelli, founder and curator of the Museum, founded in 1970, together with André Paul Bastien, publisher of the Revue de Tabac, the PIPE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY, which is based in the Museum.





Varese was defined by Giacomo Leopardi as “the small Versaille of Milan” also thanks to Palazzo Estense and its Gardens, which are of remarkable beauty, demonstrating a perfect blend of Italian and French style. From the main entrance to the gardens, you are immediately fascinated by the large parterre characterized by flower beds decorated with trees and flowers, as well as the central fountain, surrounded by the Hill of the Belvedere, which is accessed through suggestive paths From hornbeam.


Surrounded by a magnificent Italian garden, Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza of Biumo was built in the mid 18th century for the will of the Marquis Paolo Antonio Menafoglio and expanded in neoclassical times by architect Luigi Canonica, commissioned by Duke Pompeo Litta Visconti Arese. The villa is famous in the world for the collection of contemporary art that Giuseppe Panza of Biumo has collected since the 1950s. In the halls and large stables, more than one hundred works of contemporary artists are exhibited today, in addition to rich furnishings from the period from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century and to an important collection of African and Pre-Columbian art.


The Veratti Room, acquired by the Varese Municipality in 1986 by the homonymous family, is initially a public meeting room, conference, small art exhibitions and later, after the restoration dating back to 1992, a venue for exhibitions and exhibitions of the Civic Museums . The hall is not, as it may seem, an environment in its own right, but it belongs to a corpus of wider buildings and ancient origins. It is, in fact, the refectory of the former convent of Sant’Antonino, whose history begins in the mid 1500’s.


The search for monumental exaltation, characteristic of external architecture, is also found in the interior spaces, arranged around the large octagonal atrium, which is an elegant disengagement for the vast rooms adorned with refined stucco. The Villa’s salon is decorated by Giuseppe Bertini’s paintings of a historical character, the most famous being on the eastern wall and depicting Alessandro Volta illustrating the operation of the napoleon stack. In the salon there are also two bronze statues depicting Dante and Michelangelo, respectively of Bertini and Tabacchi.


The English park of the Villa, embellished with a pond of spring origin, houses a lush vegetation consisting of rates, maples, cypresses, cedars and fragrant magnolias. In the shade of the lush park, behind Villa Andrea Ponti, stands the almost homonymous The neoclassical villa named after Fabio Ponti is called “Napoleonica”. It was probably built in the 17th century on Pollack’s design; in the decade between 1820 and 1830 it was enlarged and embellished; Eight years later he was bought by the Ponti family as summer residence. In the following years the family created a link between the parks of the two villas. The Napoleonic Villa is known because from here Garibaldi directed the clash of 26 May 1859 against the Austrians.

Villa Recalcati, located in Piazza della Libertà, is the most representative architecture of the castellanza of Casbeno, within walking distance of the Estonian Gardens. The building is now home to the Province of Varese and the Prefecture. The building is characterized by a U plant, is accessed via a prospectus boulevard separated from the outside through an adorned wreath of four statues.Villa Recalcati turns the square into the elegant courtyard of honor, enclosed by a low porch With three arcs resting on two columns. The other facade, visible from the garden, is embellished with statues and iron balconies, the windows are covered with stucco. The vast park open to the public is the work of the architect Enrico Combi, who also cared for the realization of the park of Villa Ponti In Biumo Superiore. The romantic garden character blends however with French influence, evident in parterres. The species that populate it are different and ranges from exotic to native ones, helping to create an original and very special charm.

Inside the Villa there are some 18th-century rooms where you can still admire the ancient decorations: those on the ground floor are embellished with medallions painted by Antonio Magatti and probably by G.B. Ronchelli, who are certainly attributable to the scenes of the Old Testament frescoed in the corridor located on the first floor. On the ground floor you can visit the neoclassical hall, recognizable by chimneys overlaid by mirrors and white stucco. The attic room is characterized by golden stuccoes and a fresco depicting the Goddess of Abundance. On the upper floor, a large salon houses an imposing marble fireplace dating back to 1631; Higher up, a medallion represents the scene of the return of the Greeks home after the destruction of Troy. This is one of the few testimonies of the seventeenth-century plant: the hall is in fact part of the pre-existing building, later incorporated into the Villa.