Lombard writer Piero Chiara (1913-1986) figuratively reached the height of the Tower of Velate in a book where he tells how he met painter Renato Guttuso, who lived in the town in the province of Varese, in a secluded villa where he created famous works such as “Vucciria” and the magnificent “Escape to Egypt” for the Sacred Mountain of Varese:
“Finding Guttuso, his house in Velate, is not an easy task. Do you go through Masnago or Sant’Ambrogio? Velate is hidden behind a curtain of pine trees, green parks, nestled in a fold on the mountain. Its tall and mutilated tower might provide guidance, from the side of the hill: there is the old village, at the bottom of a dell…” (translated from P. Chiara, “Un’isola verde per Guttuso”, in “Gli anni e i giorni”, Edizioni Studio Tesi, Pordenone 1988).
The Tower of Velate is all that’s left of a massive medieval fortification that used to be approximately 33 meters tall, built in the 11th century. It was part of a military defense system with towers meant to control the south side of the walls around Velate, and was partially demolished in the 12th century during the war between Milan and Como.
In 1989, the structure – two of the original four sides remain, one of them entirely conserved – was donated to Fondo Ambiente Italiano, which immediately began working on the necessary renovation activities.