Palazzo Estense and Gardens and Villa Mirabello Civic Archaeological Museum
One of the public buildings in Varese that is well worth a visit is Palazzo Estense, which was the summer and autumn residence and court of Francesco III d'Este, the Duke of Modena and Lord of Varese. It was built to the designs of the architect Bianchi in the second half of the eighteenth century. The “Salone Estense” (Estense Hall) with its large fireplace made from multicoloured marble is quite stunning. Palazzo Estense is now the Town Hall.
Behind the palace are the Estense Gardens, one of the most charming public parks in Italy, which were built in the same style as the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace, in Vienna, and finished in 1787. Villa Mirabello was built in the eighteenth century on the top of the Mirabello hills. Mirabello means beautiful view, and the villa is aptly named for its panoramic vistas over the lake and Alps. The villa currently houses the Civic Museums, which were created from a nineteenth-century museum. The complex comprises the prehistoric-archaeological museum, a section of the city’s picture gallery, the butterfly and moth collection, halls dedicated to the Italian Risorgimento, the resistance and the contemporary history of Varese. While strolling through the vast English-style park that surrounds the villa (with a wood of fir trees that leads to the Estense Gardens) visitors can admire the rare species of plants and centuries-old trees, such as a magnificent cedar of Lebanon.
Tuesday to Sunday, 2nd November – 31st May: 9.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., 2 - 5.30 p.m. | 1st June – 31st October: 10 a.m. - 12.30 p.m., 2 - 6 p.m.
Closed: Mondays, except for Easter Monday, and 1st January, Easter, 1st May, 1st November, and 25th December.