The World Rowing Championships Under 19 and Under 23 are in progress in Varese. What about taking this occasion to plan a few visits out of town and explore our territory a bit more ?
Wandering around Como
That branch of the Lake of Como, which turns toward the south between two unbroken chains of mountains… Is there anybody who does not know the first sentence of The Betrothed, Alessandro Manzoni’s masterpiece?
Como is indeed the destination of short trips or romantic weekends – coming from Varese it is a short way, either you drive ( with the chance of choosing three different itineraries ) or you travel by train ( thanks to the connection between the two towns by State Railways with no change).
The town offers beautiful views and many points of interest. The first one, easily seen at the arrival, is the Cathedral, the construction of which has lasted almost four centuries; it is an imposing building with important art works, tapestries and altarpieces. Also the church of Sant’Abbondio, in perfect Lombard Romanesque style, deserves a visit.
To walk around the lakefront is very pleasant as well as visiting the charming historical centre, its shops and restaurants.
From Como, moreover, you can easily visit Cernobbio and Bellagio, their beautiful villas, and Isola Comacina, all of them very suggestive sites, as well as Brunate, the “Balcony over Alps” reachable by cable car.
The lovers of Manzoni will not miss a visit to Lecco, and particularly to the surrounding suburbs, where the remainders of Fra Cristoforo’s Monastery, the supposed home of Lucia, Don Rodrigo’s palace are located.
A day in Canton Ticino
Another convenient destination reachable from Varese is Canton Ticino in Switzerland and the big towns of Lugano and Bellinzona.
You can drive to both places - heading to Lugano you can either pass thorugh Mendrisio or, on the other side of the Lugano Lake, through Lavena Ponte Tresa, while heading to Bellinzona the shortest way passes though Mendrisio and Lugano. In both cases you can also travel by train, from the Ferrovie Nord Station or from the State Railways, changing train at Mendrisio station.
As soon as you are in Lugano a visit to historic centre is a must, among streets and alleyways full of luxury shops and restaurants, until you reach San Lorenzo Cathedral or San Carlo Borromeo Church located in Via Nassa, the main shopping street.
Outdoor living lovers will appreciate the quietness and total immersion into nature which will be found in Parco Ciani. Afterwards a walk on the lakefront cannot be missed, to admire the suggestive view, as well as a stop at the Lido with its long stretch of fine sand.
As well you should not miss a visit to LAC (Lugano Arts and Culture), the cultural centre of the city having an unusual architectonic structure, and where it is permanently located an art exhibition as well as temporary shows and events.
From Lugano you can also go to Monte Brè by cable car and enjoy an impressive sight from there as well as wandering around the alleys of the old village. You can also drive to Monte San Giorgio , a UNESCO heritage due to the existence of fossil beds from the sea.
Another city we suggest is Bellinzona, famous for its three mediaeval castles and also for being the passage towards a number of Alpine passes.
Built for defense purposes, castles take visitors back to the past, in a trip among arts, history and architecture. Castelgrande dominates the city, from the top of San Michele Hill, with its two towers and the rows of crenellated walls, and it is reachable by walking from Piazza della Collegiata or through an elevator from Piazzetta della Valle. From here you can walk to Montebello Castle, which still shows all the features of a fortress: watchtowers, drawbridges, still viable walls; inside the castle there is a city museum with a number of archaeological findings. The last castle is Sasso Corbaro, a square-planted manor located 230 metres high over the city. The three castles are interconnected by the touristic train Artù.
One of the main points of interest in the city is Piazza Indipendenza where an obelisk reminds the independence from the Cantone achieved in 1903.
Finally the area around Bellinzona offers many opportunities to trekkers starting from Carasc rope bridge, located 130 metres high from the end of the valley.