Villa Panza

Lake Maggiore & Around

On a rise north of Varese’s centre, where the high walls of private residences enclose narrow, winding lanes, Villa Panza enjoys beautiful views of the Alps from its extensive gardens. The villa was donated to the nation in 1996 and part of that donation was an intriguing art collection, mostly monochrome canvases by American post-WWII artists, scattered about the opulent rooms and halls of the villa.

One of the finest rooms is the 1830 Salone Impero (Empire Hall), with heavy chandeliers and four canvases by American David Simpson (b 1928). More can be seen in the outbuildings (rustici), which are also used for temporary art exhibitions. The gardens, a combination of 18th-century Italianate and early-19th-century English style, make for a lovely meander before or after the art.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Maggiore & Around attractions

1. Città Vecchia

0.49 MILES

North off Piazza Monte Grappa, the delightful pedestrianised Corso Matteotti signals the western boundary of Varese's tiny old centre, at whose heart…

2. Basilica di San Vittore

0.49 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…

3. Palazzo Estense

0.53 MILES

From the 17th century, nobles and the rich, many from Milan, began to build second residences around Varese's historic centre. Of these, the most…

4. Piazza Monte Grappa

0.56 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…

5. Torre Civica

0.57 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…

6. Giardini Estensi

0.58 MILES

Set on a hillside just south of Varese's old centre, these picturesque gardens make a pleasant setting for a stroll. A large circular fountain, a pretty…

8. Villa Recalcati

0.98 MILES

A magnificent 17th-century villa that houses the provincial government. In the late 1800s, it was transformed into a grand hotel, and hosted luminaries…