History of Varese

Lombardy is a northern political region of Italy in the southern Alps. The capital is Milan, and 55 km northwest of there lies the city of Varese. Lombardy is home to a sixth of Italy’s people.

The area has been populated for 4000 years, as evidenced in archeological findings. The Etruscans, Celts, and Romans held power there in sequence. Under the Romans the area moved into historical significance. Pliny the Elder and Virgil were both born in Lombardy. The capital of the Western Roman Empire was even temporarily moved to Milan around 300 A.D.

After the fall of the Roman Empire the region was invaded by the Longobardi tribe, from whom the current name was derived. Initially, the Lombards were more closely associated with the Franks and Bavarians, but gradually adapted to the Latin culture. The Germans ruled Lombardy until Emperor Frederick I was defeated by the Lombard League in 1176.

The Po Valley was rich with agricultural possibilities and economic opportunities. By the 15th century, Milan and Mantua were becoming Renaissance centers.

Varese is o­ne of the eleven provinces of Lombardy, and also the name of that region’s capital. It is known for a rich musical history of opera and classical traditions. The late Baroque painter, Pietro Antonio Magatti, came from Varese. His works can still be seen at the Castello di Masnago.

The current city has a population of about 85,000 and is a popular resort city, located in the Alpine foothills. Significant historical buildings include a church founded in the 4th century by St. Ambrose, and the Este palace from the 18th century. The palace was the home and court of Francesco III d’Este, Duke of Modena.

Varese is also the current starting location of the Giro di Lombardia, o­ne of the most prestigious European cycle races.