• Itinerari

Lake Varese: Isolino Virginia

A bicycle itinerary around Lake Varese

From: Schiranna
To: Schiranna
2 ore
Uphill: 100m

A bicycle itinerary around Lake Varese to get to know its nature and history, including ancient history.

The best place to start exploring Lake Varese from is Lido della Schiranna on the cycle track and walkway which circuits the lake for 29 km. The itinerary takes in various interesting sites: Chiostro di Voltorre in Gavirate, Isolino Virginia in Biandronno, the Cazzago Brabbia ice houses and Santuario della Madonna del lago in Azzate.

Chiostro di Voltorre, a very old monastic cloister, is in Gavirate. Site of a flourishing monastic community which was extremely popular in the Middle Ages, and given a further boost by the Lombards, it is made up of a single nave church and cloister. A splendid example of Romanesque art, today it is a cultural and exhibition centre revolving around its history and contemporary art.

Isolino Virginia, a Lake Varese island in front of Biandronno, was first settled in the early Neolithic. It is a great place for views of the lake, together with its vegetation and fauna. The special feature of the island is that whilst it has a small Prehistoric Museum, which is an annex of the Villa Mirabello Archaeology Museum, it is itself an open air museum and one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites for stilt house culture remains. You can get to it on a short Biandronno boat trip.

Continuing along the itinerary, to Cazzago Brabbia, you come to the unusually shaped ice houses built at the end of the 18th century for food conservation purposes such as just caught fish which was then distributed to the various markets (as far afield as France), symbols of Lake Varese with its historic splendours.

The ice houses can also be seen from the cycle track which coasts the lake. They are only visitable outside, with the interiors visible through a window.  They were forgotten for several decades until, in the 1980s, a historian rediscovered them and recognised their important cultural legacy.

When you get to Azzate, before you return to your starting point (Schiranna), visit Santuario della Madonna del Lago. Here legend has it that a Virgin Mary apparition miraculously healed a mute shepherd girl.  In particular, the fresco showing Mary and Joseph worshipping the Christ child is an object of worship. It is undated but certainly dates back to a century before the sanctuary was built. It is accessed from the cycle track along a tree lined gravel avenue and is 500 metres from Lake Varese.



prima tappa: Chiostro di Voltorre, Gavirate

seconda Tappa: Isolino Virginia 

terza tappa: ghiacciaie di Cazzago Brabbia 

quarta tappa: Santuario della Madonna del lago, Azzate

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