After Francesco’s death, the people, renowned for their independence, formed a municipality. Although when built, the Palazzo Estense was located on the outskirts of town, over time the population center has shifted, and it is now near the center of Varese and has been put into service as the Town Hall.
The Baroque palace was reconstructed on plans of the architect Giuseppe Bianchi, from a villa built by Tommaso Orrigoni, a local merchant, Two formal wings span outward and forward from a central entrance. Famous frescoes decorate the interior walls. The Salone Estense– the hall of honor, and a renowned park and garden are found inside. The gardens were modeled after Schoenbrun, Vienna, Austria. A large central pool is surrounded by walkways, nooks, lawns and flower beds. Connecting with the Palazzo Estense garden is the Villa Mirabello English garden. The styles work together so well that the city purchased this property in 1949 to make the entire property open to the public.
Varese is located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, about 55 km north of Milan. It can be reached by the frequent trains, or highway. Local bus service within the city is reputed to be excellent. Lakes, hills, valleys, and woods are traversed by many roads and trails for those who wish to explore the surrounding countryside.