A journey on the edge of European culture,
between botany and philosophy.

Panoramic view from the top of the hill
Francesco III d’Este
Aerial view
Villa Litta Modigliani

Among the many activities you can carry out in Varese, the Estense Palace with its Gardens deserves a particular attention.

Designed in the 1700s as the residence of Francesco III D’Este, governor of Lombardy on behalf of Maria Teresa of Austria, it is also famous for its beautiful park, a complex that the famous French writer Stendhal referred to as the “Versailles of Milan”.

 

Walking through the gardens of Palazzo Estense means experiencing the history of the Old Continent; a path to take at slow steps, letting the sound of nature guide you.

 

The gardens, designed by Giuseppe Antonio Bianchi, are inspired by those of the imperial palace of Schönbrunn, in Vienna.

 

At the beginning the park was conceived as the classic Italian garden, with a French influence.

Made of an interweaving of geometric shapes, order, and symmetry, the first part of the park surrounds the buildings setting on a rigid perspective system.

 

Looking from the Main Courtyard, located between the central residence and the two wings of the building, a breathtaking view fills your eyes and goes straight to your heart: from the wide avenue of the Grand Parterre a network of paths flanked by flower beds that host low-stemmed plants, spreads throughout the gardens.

 

Yew, boxwood, and privet bushes were planted here and celebrate the topiary art of the European eighteenth century.

At the end of the avenue, sky and earth merge in the basin of the large fountain, that marks the meeting point with the most wooded part of the garden.

From the very beginning, the formal rigor of the park was in fact counterbalanced by an area adapted to hunting purposes called “roccolo”, to satisfy the Duke’s passion for hunting.

Nowadays the only visible sign of that ancient vocation is a small tower located on the hill among oak, elm and chestnut trees.

 

During the nineteenth century, as the idea of the relation between man and nature changed, the park was enriched with romantic elements in line with the common feeling of that period and with the special influence of Scapigliatura, a movement closer to the French Romanticism of Baudelaire than to the Italian one of Manzoni.

Geometric strictness gave way to feelings: the garden is now a place where expression, surprise and wild nature prevail over formal design.

The water flowing out from the rocks takes on a predominant role, as the symbol of a wild nature that overcomes the constraints imposed by man.

 

Conifers, a magnificent cedar of Lebanon, magnolia trees, camellia, and thujas bushes occur in the park: an illusory disorder, that makes up rest spaces for guests as well as a swan pond surrounded by the hornbeam trees.

 

Considered one of the most beautiful in Northern Italy, the park of the Giardini Estensi, that also includes the gardens of Villa Mirabello and Villa Litta Modigliani, is open to the public at any time: a valuable gift from the city of Varese to its citizens.

A place to experience history, feeling the well-being of the surrounding nature and listening to the breath of your soul.

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