Etymology of the name

The historians P.G. Sironi and S. Zanella believe that the toponym Gallarate may derive from the Celtic word Callariate, which indicates a place situated on a multitude of little stones: that is to say place situated over some gravel. This place situated over some gravel was a little mound – nowadays disappeared and over which now stands Santa Maria Assunta’s bell tower was formed by the alluvial debris settled by the river Arno and its tributary Sorgiorile, which flow together.


Province of Varese. It’s a part of Regione Agraria n. 6 - Pianura Varesina and of Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino.


Arnate, Cedrate, Crenna, Cajello, Cascinetta, Moriggia, Sciarè, Madonna in Campagna, Ronchi

Municipal area

20,97 km2

Density for km2



238 m above sea level

Communication system


A8 Autostrada dei Laghi (Lake Motorway)

FS and FNM Milano-Gallarate railway line

suburban line S5

Territory development plan (PGT)

A – Policy for the infrastructural system:

1. improve regional accessibility

2. for a urban mobility that can be borne

3. cycle mobility

B – Policy for the urban system:

1. urban resources for marginal industrial areas

2. urban transformation and requalification

3. the territorial field in the Piano Malpensa

4. the areas of the station and along the railway line

C – The “town of facilities”:

1. public and common interest facilities

2. policy for Social Housing

D – Policy for productive activities:

1. a policy for the allocation of small and medium industries

2. lines of commercial policy

E – Policy for social/economical structure and for innovation

1. the future of Malpensa and the implications for Gallarate

2. the development of tertiary structure of regional rank

F – Policy for the environmental and ecological system:

1. policy for green and outdoor areas

2. promotion of the eco-sustainability of buildings and of the energetic field






The first settlements in the area date back to the Gauls, as evidenced by the discovery of several tombs, dated around the first century b.C.; these became possessions of the Romans. In the Middle Ages the village became the center of the war events that took place between Frederick Barbarossa and the Lombard League; later of the battles between the League and the new Emperor Frederick II, and then also of the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Elevated to Vicariato del Seprio Inferiore, after the destruction of Castel Seprio, at the end of the thirteenth century, it belonged to the Visconti, albeit with some interruptions, until 1722, being repeatedly ravaged by foreign troops, hired by Francis I of France who fought against Charles V. With the Napoleonic invasion, there was a succession of French and Austrian occupations, resulting in greater participation in the Risorgimento movement. After overcoming the upheaval caused by conflicts in the world, the town has quickly taken the road of economic, social and urban development. Agriculture which is based on cereal crops, vegetables and fodder and breeding of cattle, has definitely become less important than industry in the local economy: industry is represented mainly by textile mills and leather goods and leather, accompanied by food establishments, including those of dairy, chemical, manufacturing, especially furniture and jewellery, mechanical, metallurgical, wood, rubber goods and plastics,building materials, including glass and its products, machinery electrical, electronic and optical equipment, parts and accessories for vehicles and for the construction of locomotives, aircraft, space vehicles, cycles and motorcycles. There are also several construction companies and also some for the production and distribution of electricity and printing works. The tertiary sector consists of a good sales network and all the services, including radio and television activities, the distribution of software and multimedia consultancy, the provision of credit and monetary intermediation, practiced by many bank branches .






Santa Maria’s Basilica (XIV-XV Century)

The Basilica of Santa Maria is the main church of Gallarate, built on the site of two ancient churches, both named Santa Maria. Today's Basilica was built between 1856 and 1861 and the facade was completed in 1870. It has some frescoes by Luigi Cavenaghi and stuccos by Celso Stecchetti The sculptures include "The Assumption" by Giuseppe Rosnati, that is set over the main altar by Edoardo Tabacchi  and St. John the Baptist over Dupre’s one. The organ was renovated in 1922. It is a source of prestigious musical offerings. Flanking the Basilica there’s the bell tower, built in 1454 and 45 meters high.



San Pietro’s Church (XI-XII Century)

Located in the center of Gallarate, in the pedestrian area, you can find this amazing building of Lombard and Romanesque style(with Gothic elements).
Although extensively altered over the centuries and very defaced by improper uses(it was even a fortalice in 1400, and then a place where carpenters and butchers worked), it is considered the most architecturally important building in Gallarate. The building was erected between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries and bears the imprint of the Comacine Masters, anonymous, but skillful and deserving artisans. A national monument since 1864, it has a Baroque altar in polychrome marbles of the XVIIth century and a Corinthian capital of the IIIrd-IVthcentury, adapted for containing holy water.
Of particular importance and value is the small balcony that opens onto the facade which is characterized by an alternation of small arches and others resting on columns, that are placed symmetrically between two diamond windows.



La Crocetta or "Cruzeta”

It is the symbol of the city, dear to Gallarate and an important part of the local history.
The column stands on a pedestal and it’s surmounted by a capital with a double image of the Virgin of Pilar, which overlooks an iron cross. As we can read (sadly, now, very hardly) on one side of the base, it was built in 1694 by Cesare Visconti of Milan, Count of Gallarate, so as to replace a lower one during the Spanish rule.




San Francesco’s Church

Built from 1906 to 1910 and designed by the architect Gaetano Moretti, it has beautiful glass windows in composite style and it remembers the Franciscan saints. With the building of the church, the promoters surely wanted to renovate the  cult of the saint of Assisi, whose temple stood a little distance from there in the same piazza Risorgimento. Since 1965 with the erection of the adjacent monastery, the church has been entrusted to the care of the Benedictine Adorers of the Blessed Sacramento.



Sant'Antonio Abate’s Church

The small church in the central area has historical precedents in the homonymous oratory, active in the XVth century and home to several fraternities. The present building dates back to the second half of the XVIIIth century: this is revealed by the style, a measured and balanced Baroque, by the canonical  Biagio Bellotti from Busto, architect and painter. The statue of Santa Marta, the frescoes depicting the life of St. Anthony on the walls and vault, and the life of St. Martha in the choir were built by Rosnati, his fellow-citizen.  It was restored in 1962 by Francesco Moglia creating a facade that overlooks Corso Italia, opened in those years by breaking down the ancient Faietto.



San Rocco’s Church

A simple church located in a heavy-traffic area in Corso Sempione. San Rocco is another "pitre vive" of Gallarate. Certainly it dates back to the years of St. Charles, as Leonetto Clivone said in 1566. The great number of renovations, not always successful, have compromised the structure so much that, even in modern times, people are not certain of its fate. The "Madonna of the Pomegranate", unfortunately marred by numerous repaintings, dates back to Bernardino Luini’s school.



Madonna in Campagna’s Sanctuary (XVIIth century)

It dates back to the seventeenth century when, for a vow made by the villagers on the 21st of November, when the famous plague of the Promessi Sposi  was arrested in 1630 on the outskirts of the town. The altar is the most relevant work in the Sanctuary: it is a superb example of Baroque style that combines the glitz and the setting of decorating a solid formal and iconographic structure. The work was started in 1666 by  G.B. Rigoli, a Swiss artist, and was completed by  Rosnati, from Gallarate. The Madonna del Latte, in the centre of the ancone, dates back to the fifteenth-sixteenth century and comes from a preexisting "gesiolo" (a little chapel). The Sanctuary and the whole neighbourhood came alive in the last week of November for the traditional Rama di Pomm, one of the few festivals that are still alive nowadays.


The Lazaretto’s Church

The plague is commemorated by a small temple in Gallarate: San Marco’s Church, better known as 'the Lazaretto' on the outskirts of Cedrate. But it wasn't erected  during a plague, but in 1721, almost one hundred years after the epidemic of 1629/30, to commemorate the many victims of this and the previous 'plague of St. Charles', confined to the rural area. A gradual restoration was possible thanks to a group of local volunteers. Nowadays, the volunteers are busy restorating the altarpiece of St. Gregory the Great, and a painting of the seventeenth century Lombardy 'Rest during the Flight into Egypt' too.



The location of the Patri Studies (Museum of History and Art)

The former convent of St. Francis built after the arrival of the Minor Friars  (1234) can be defined as the historic building that best represents the ancient village mentioned on maps: it is the site of an important Franciscan community. In 1245 the work was already well underway and included, besides the church, the mystical "cloister" as it is familiarly called in Gallarate. The monastery suffered many vicissitudes in the course of the struggle between the French and the Spanish.
The Museum of History and Art is situated in what remains of the complex, and it is open to the public since 1961. On the ground floor you can find a  collection of materials from prehistoric times (Lagozza of Besnate, Civiltà di Golasecca), Gallic, Roman and Lombard archeology. The first floor houses the Pinacoteca.



The Aloisianum

After various wanderings through Italy, the Aloisianum, founded in 1839 as a seminary for aspiring Jesuits dedicated to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, could settle on the outskirts of Gallarate in 1936, thanks to the generous donation of Countess Rosa Piantani da Bassetti Ottolini. In 1937 she was granted the power to confer academic degrees in philosophy. Since 1970 it is no longer the location of the university,  but it remains the primary center of cultural activities in various aspects: the Library, with hundreds of thousands of texts accessible to scholars, the monumental "Index Thomisticus", elaborated by Fr Roberto Busa, from 1946 to 1980; the annual Conference of Philosophical Congresses, that gave birth to a genuine movement of thought of universal significance, the prosecutor of the missions, IRIS, directed, in its various social and artistic sections by Father Alfredo Imperatori. The Aloisianum also opens its doors to scientific and technical conferences, rallies, cultural events, exhibitions and concerts. Adjacent to the campus, since 1959, (on a natural lookout point), you can also find the Church of the Sacred Heart.



The palace of the Broletto

The Broletto (a term that designated anywhere in the past the town hall) rises on an area used since the middle of the XIIIth century as the convent of San Michele, built by the Order of the Humble. After the suppression of the order (1570), the convent became home to other religious (Benedictine and Augustinian nuns and Franciscan friars). Under Napoleon, the building lost the character of the convent so as to be used as a public office, albeit with different functions over time. From 1859 to 1861, after the tower bell collapsed, it was renovated by architect Leone Savoia. Nowadays we can only see the wide courtyard of the convent, with its vaults resting on granite columns. It’s been housing the Town Hall since 1929, called  Palazzo Borghi, the name of the wealthy family that originally owned the area up to the 60s, the district court, prisons, the police of PS, the Public Library.



Museo Arte Gallarate (MAGA)

Conceived and founded in 1966 by Silvio Zanella with works acquired during the first eight editions of the National Visual Arts Prize City of Gallarate, the Civic Gallery of Modern Art (GAM), because of its rich permanent collection, has been one of the most important exhibition centres in the country since its birth. The MAGA was born from the historic GAM and today there are over 5000 works from donations of Premio di Gallarate, by artists, collectors and purchases in the museum itself, and consists of paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, works of animation and environmental ones, artist books, multimedia works, objects and design projects, etchings and serigraphs. The permanent collection contains, among others, works by Felice Casorati, Mario Sironi and Fausto Melotti, Lucio Fontana, Ennio Morlotti, up to a good Optical representation of artists, from Grazia Varisco Gianni Colombo, up to Nanda Vigo. The new headquarters opened in 2010 and it is a prestigious and functional center for contemporary art, able to attract the general public and to offer specialized services at a national and international level. The architectural complex consists of two adjacent and communicating buildings: the first one is an industrial building of the thirties of the twentieth century fully renovated and the second one is a building designed and built from scratch, characterized by a kind of scenic backdrop brick that, for its curved shape embraces the circular front, becoming an element of warm welcome for the visitors. Here people carry out educational workshops and creative activities for students, the public and children.
The specialist library contains a wealth of over 20,000 cataloged volumes about contemporary art in SBN and visible from the site The newspaper section includes the most important art magazines that can be accessed on demand.
It is also possible to consult the archives of the Historical Gallery of Visual Arts, of the National Award City of Gallarate and of the historical movements MAC and Madi.
You can also take advantage of the interlibrary loan service through computer links with the national library SBN network.