The archaeological area of Castelseprio with the ruins of a village destroyed in the 13th century.

© Elio Villa/Shutterstock

Parco Archeologico di Castelseprio

Lake Maggiore & Around

Spread out in peaceful woods about 1.5km outside the village of Castelseprio, around 20km south of Varese, is the ancient archaeological site of Sibrium, a Lombard castrum (fortified settlement) with remains of fortress walls, various churches and towers. As long ago as the 5th or 6th century AD, the Lombards began erecting a fort on this site. By the 7th century it was a small town, with its Basilica di San Giovanni, houses and watchtowers.

Signage (in English) gives an overview of each site – entrance gates, towers, cistern, baptistery – as well as a rendering of what it might have looked like.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Maggiore & Around attractions

1. Antiquarium

0.12 MILES

On the grounds of the Parco Archeologico di Castelseprio, this museum contains a small repository of objects and documents on the site.

2. Chiesa di Santa Maria Foris Portas

0.15 MILES

Just outside the archaeological site of Sibrium, the small pre-Romanesque Chiesa di Santa Maria Foris Portas was built around the 7th century. Inside in…

3. Monastero di Torba

0.25 MILES

Dating back to the 5th century, the Monastero di Torba started life as a forward watchtower for the Lombard castrum (fortified settlement) of Sibrium; and…

4. Museo della Collegiata

2.02 MILES

The nondescript modern town of Castiglione Olona, 8km south of Varese off the SP42 road, contains a quite extraordinary gem. The old centre was largely…

6. Piazza Monte Grappa

6.32 MILES

Piazza Monte Grappa, on the cusp of Varese's old town, is fascinating for history and architecture buffs. The square was completely remade in grand…

7. Torre Civica

6.32 MILES

Soaring high above Varese's main square, this enormous clock tower was built in 1933, and has quite the Fascist-era aesthetic about it. At the base, you…

8. Basilica di San Vittore

6.37 MILES

The showcase attraction of Varese's centre is this ornate basilica, built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The more stolid facade was an 18th-century…