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Provincia di Varese

The Liberty epic in the Province of Varese started at the dawn of the 20th century. Dynamic entrepreneurs, mostly from nearby Milan, had cast their eye on this scenic pre-alpine location. They would soon become the patrons of a group of progressive young architects, such as Sommaruga, Stacchini and Gambini, who would launch a new international style, contrasting with the eclectic style which had arisen after the unification of Italy. Art Nouveau, or Liberty as it was known in Italy, answered the drive for modernity and internationalism while not excluding the knowledge based on local, and sometimes ancient, traditions of craftsmanship.

An increasingly confident middle-class made plans for buildings in the city, factories on the outskirts; large hotels; villas large and small, exploiting the carefully planned rail and tramways spread over the territory. The men welcoming the new century here and trusting in progress, acted as real futurists even before Marinetti, in Paris, wrote the well-known manifesto proclaiming to live in the future dynamically, in 1909. The roar of the plane, car and motorcycle engines echoed everywhere here. On the lake of Varese and on the Ticino the seaplanes would compete with the oarsmen, taking lively and joyful possession of land and airways.

At the Kursaal of Masnago gamblers tried their luck, others did clay-pigeon shooting, or spent their time leisurely in the sumptuous rooms of the Grand Hotel Campo dei Fiori or the Palace Grand Hotel, all designed by Giuseppe Sommaruga. In its beautiful little Liberty theatre, unfortunately destroyed in the Second World War, Varese cultivated the emerging passion for theatrical culture.