Historic centre of Varzo
How to get
By train: the railway station of Varzo is on the Simplon line, 13 km from Domodossola.
The little town of Varzo on the left side of the Divedro Valley on the way down from the Simplon Pass is the main settlement of the area. Its name derives from the Celtic word “vargo” meaning “a widening”: a description of the geographical position of the community, in a broad dell in the main Divedro valley, on the road leading to the Simplon Pass.
This was an area where there were frequent border disputes between Italy and Switzerland. A settlement existed here many centuries before Christ, and has seen many different peoples come and go: Ligurians, Celts and the Lepontines, who gave their name to this part of the Alps. It was important as a place where wayfarers and merchants on their way to Switzerland would stop and rest.
The administrative area is one of the largest in the Ossola, and is made up of the astonishing number of 53 villages and hamlets. It boasts a historic centre of evident medieval origin, a famous 14th century stone beacon tower, and a parish church with a Romanesque façade and bell tower dating from the 12th century. Inside the church are frescoes, stained glass, valuable wooden artworks and several crypts, once used as places of burial.
Varzo is the gateway to the verdant Cairasca Valley, best known for the marvellous nature park of Alpe Veglia, and to the winter ski resort of San Domenico-Alpe Ciamporino.