Hotel Madonnina, near Varese ***
This hotel is located in the village of Cantello, 12 kilometres from the city of Varese and 66 kilometres from Milan. It is just one kilometre from the Swiss border and ideally suited as a base to explore the lakes of Lombardy, including Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. View hotel
Double rooms from €70
Yes Hotel, Varese ****
The Yes hotel is just a kilometre from the centre of the lovely northern Italian town of Varese. This part of town is home to the new hospital and the university. Featuring 1930s styling, the five-storey Yes Hotel is surrounded by landscaped gardens and features stylishly modern interiors. View hotel
Double rooms from €51
The Lombardy town of Varese sits at the foot of the Alps, and is the largest town in the Italian Lakes, lying on the eastern banks of Lago di Varese. Within a few kilometres are Lakes Maggiore, Como, Lugano and a smaller stretches of open water such as Lakes Comabbio, Monate, Ghirla and Ganna. To the south of here lies Milan, and Varese is well situated for Milan Malpensa airport.
The countryside is quite beautiful, with walking and climbing as well as fun on the water. Unmissable sights include the Sacro Monte di Varese (literally the 'sacred mountain of Varese') which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for centuries has been a place of worship and pilgrimage. Sandwiched between the mountains and the lake, with little villages peppering the slopes, this is a quite stunning part of Italy. The border with Switzerland is just north of here, and seen from above the province appears to be simply thick woodland with huge stretches of blue - the lakes of course. In winter, white dusts the green.
The town of Varese sits 382 metres above sea level. Dominated by Milan during the Middle Ages, it was a free city state until 1765 when it came under the Dukes of Este. It was to play a major role in Garibaldi's war of independence in the 1800s. Today, it's known as 'the garden city' because of its natural beauty. Sites include the Basilica di San Vittore, the Bell Tower, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Church of San Stefano, the Palazzo Estense, and the Estensi Gardens.