From the Palaeolithic pile dwellings of Isolino Virginia to the Lombard origin’s
archaeological park of Castelseprio, the province of Varese offers some
of the most interesting evidence of a past rich in cultural ferment.
Among the many outdoor activities that can be planned during a weekend at Palace Grand Hotel in Varese, a special mention goes to the Unesco Heritage sites circuit.
Consisting of 4 macro sites, this heritage can be considered a real journey through time.
The first site is represented by Monte San Giorgio, a hill on the border between Italy and Switzerland.
In 2003, dating back to 247-235 million years ago, it was identified by Unesco as the best testimony of geo-paleontological history in the marine environment. Through the thousands of fossils found in the last two centuries, including the well-known Besanosaurus, Monte San Giorgio, has allowed to study in detail the evolution of many groups of marine organisms.
From the Triassic we then move on to the pile-dwelling settlements of Isolino Virginia, Bodio Centrale and Sabbione, dating back to the Neolithic (about 5,000 BC).
Three sites in a single province: a high concentration if you consider that there are only 19 pile-dwelling sites throughout Italy (937 in all of Europe).
With a few centuries time jump, the next site reveals the secrets of two settlements of Lombard origin.
The monastery of Torba, whose first nucleus dates back to the IV-V century AD by the Romans, subsequently transformed into a monastery by a group of Benedictines nuns in the long years of the “Longobard pax” (VIII AD), and the church of S. Maria “foris portas” in Castelseprio, which preserves a cycle of frescoes among the most important examples of European wall painting in the early Middle Ages.
The last site is the Sacro Monte, which houses a devotional complex built in the seventeenth century, consisting of a sanctuary and the Via Sacra, a path dotted with 14 chapels.
Catholic stronghold against the spread of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, which in nearby Switzerland, was gathering a growing number of faithful.
Thus closes the path among the beauties of Varese that Unesco wanted to protect; a toast at the Bell ’Époque bar of the Grand Hotel will be the perfect seal to end a weekend of art and history.