The Lake of Varese
An oasis of peace, where nature reigns supreme
What it is and where it is
It is a charming green lake pulsing with life located 6 km from the center of Varese, lying at the foot of the Pre-Alps and famous for its shoe shape. Varese's lake resort is the Schiranna, a place for recreation or sport between Zanzi Park, the historic swimming pool, the Canottieri Society, or along the bicycle and pedestrian path that runs around the perimeter of the lake for 28 km. Along the bike path one encounters the Aero Club A. Orsi, a sports facility of excellence for glider flying, and the Palude Brabbia nature reserve characterized by areas of dense aquatic vegetation and small bodies of water.
Why it is special
Glacial, shallow and dense with vegetation, Lake Varese is a tranquil oasis in an industrialized province. from unspoiled nature, full of reasons to experience it: the Isolino, the Voltorre Cloister, the Cazzago Glaciers, the bike path, the docks... Its identity imposes itself in the encounter between the wild environment and the mountains and in the culture of the pile dwellings: the origin of a way of life that for millennia has marked the shores of the lake through knowledge that has come down to us. It is a destination for slow and relaxing tourism, respecting the ecosystem and the ancient relationships with its waters.
Not to be missed
Isolino Virginia is a small triangle of land located a few meters from the western shore of the Lake, in front of Biandronno. It is covered by a unique natural environment inhabited by wild animals and where in 1863, when it was owned by Andrea Ponti, the first pile-dwelling was discovered, evidence of the oldest pile-dwelling settlement in the Alpine Arc and among the most important of the European Neolithic period. It was the Ponti family who set up an important museum there, which they later donated to the municipality of Varese, with the islet, in 1962. Since 2011 it has been listed by UNESCO as one of the Prehistoric Pile-Dwelling Sites of the Alpine Arc.
A bit of history
The basin dates back 15,000 years when the retreat of the Verbano glacier created the basin that included nearby lakes. It was bordered by 9 municipalities that for centuries named the shores and its tranquil waters, while today's appellation is a tribute to the main municipality, Varese, which acquired part of its shores in '27 becoming the capital. In the 1700s the lake was owned by the Litta family and in the 1800s by the Ponti family: nobles the former and entrepreneurs the latter, in love with its charm and its waters that have always been private but lived in by the fishermen who have drawn its history.
Stories and legends of yesteryear tell of a lake frozen in winter, whose surface became a shortcut between the two shores. It is told of a knight who, in order to gallop faster toward Milan or, in other versions, to save his lady, crossed the frozen lake at night believing it to be a prairie and, warned of the narrow escape, had a small church built, which for many is the Madonnina del Lago di Azzate. Tales from lake people tell of the fog and the ringing of bells, different for each bell tower, to direct boatmen and fishermen home.
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