Busto Arsizio

Busto Arsizio (Italian: [ˈbusto arˈsittsjo] (About this soundlisten); Bustocco: Büsti Grandi) is an Italian city and comune in the south-easternmost part of the Province of Varese, in the region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy, 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Milan. The economy of Busto Arsizio is mainly based on industry and commerce. It is the fifth municipality in the region by population and the first in the province.

Busto Arsizio
Büsti Grandi  (Lombard)
Comune di Busto Arsizio
Shrine of Santa Maria di Piazza
Shrine of Santa Maria di Piazza
Coat of arms of Busto Arsizio
Busto Arsizio within the Province of Varese
Busto Arsizio within the Province of Varese
Location of Busto Arsizio
Busto Arsizio is located in Italy
Busto Arsizio
Busto Arsizio
Location of Busto Arsizio in Italy
Busto Arsizio is located in Lombardy
Busto Arsizio
Busto Arsizio
Busto Arsizio (Lombardy)
Coordinates: 45°36′N 08°50′E / 45.600°N 8.833°E / 45.600; 8.833Coordinates: 45°36′N 08°50′E / 45.600°N 8.833°E / 45.600; 8.833
ProvinceVarese (VA)
FrazioniBorsano, Sacconago
 • MayorEmanuele Antonelli (Forza Italia)
 • Total30.27 km2 (11.69 sq mi)
226 m (741 ft)
 (December 31, 2017)[2]
 • Total83,405
 • Density2,800/km2 (7,100/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Bustocchi (for the people born in the city)
Bustesi (for the people not born in the city)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code0331
Patron saintSaint John the Baptist and Saint Michael the Archangel
Saint dayJune 24 and September 29
WebsiteOfficial website


Despite some claims about a Celtic heritage, recent studies suggest that the "Bustocchi"'s ancestors were Ligurians, called "wild" by Pliny, "marauders and robbers" by Livy and "unshaven and hairy" by Pompeius Tragus. They were skilled ironworkers and much sought after as mercenary soldiers. A remote Ligurian influence is perceptible in the local dialect, Büstócu, slightly different from other Western Lombard varieties, according to local expert and historian Luigi Giavini.[3]

Traditionally these first inhabitants used to set fire to woods made of old and young oaks and black hornbeams, which at that time, covered the whole Padan Plain. This slash-and-burn practice, known as "debbio" in Italian, aimed to create fields where grapevines or cereals such as foxtail, millet and rye were grown, or just to create open spaces where stone huts with thatched roofs were built. By doing this, they created a bustum (burnt, in Latin), that is a new settlement which, in order to be distinguished from the other nearby settlements, was assigned a name: arsicium (again "burnt", or better "arid") for Busto Arsizio, whose name is actually a tautology; carulfì for nearby Busto Garolfo, cava for Busto Cava, later Buscate.

The slow increase in population was helped by the Insubres, a Gaulish tribe who arrived in successive waves by crossing the Alps c. 500 BCE. It is said that they defeated the Etruscans, who by then controlled the area, leaving some geographical names behind (Arno creek (not to be confused with Florence's river), Castronno, Caronno, Biandronno, etc.).

Busto Arsizio was created on the route between Milan and Lake Maggiore (called "Milan’s road", an alternative route to the existent Sempione), part of which, before the creation of the Naviglio Grande, made use of the navigational water of the Ticino river.

However, nothing is clearly known about Busto Arsizio's history before the 10th century, when the town's name was first discovered in documents, already with its present name: loco Busti qui dicitur Arsizio. A part of the powerful Contado of the Seprio, in 1176, its citizens likely participated (on both sides) in the famous Battle of Legnano, actually fought between Busto Arsizio's frazione of Borsano and nearby Villa Cortese, when Frederick Barbarossa was defeated by the communal militia of the Lombard League. From the 13th century, the town became renowned for its production of textiles. Even its feudalization in later centuries under several lords, vassals of the masters of Milan, did not stop its slow but constant growth; nor did the plague, which hit hard in 1630, traditionally being stopped by the Virgin Mary after the Bustocchi, always a pious Catholic flock, prayed for respite from the deadly epidemic.

By the mid-19th century, modern industry began to take over strongly; in a few decades, Busto Arsizio became the so-called "Manchester of Italy".[4] In 1864, while the "Bustocco" Eugenio Tosi was the Archbishop of Milan, it was granted city privileges by king Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. The city continued to grow over the next century, absorbing the nearby communities of Borsano and Sacconago in 1927 in a major administrative reform implemented by the Fascist regime and was only marginally damaged even by World War II (a single Allied airdropped bomb is said to have hit the train station). This respite was given, actually, by the fact that the town hosted the important Allied liaison mission with the partisans, the Chrysler mission, led by Lt. Aldo Icardi, later famous for his involvement in the Holohan Murder Case. During the conflict, Busto Arsizio was a major industrial centre for war production, and the occupying Germans moved there the Italian national radio. The Italian resistance movement resorted preferably to strikes and sabotage than to overt guerrilla warfare, since those willing to fight mostly took to the Ossola mountains, but strengthened in time, suffering grievous losses to arrests, tortures and deportation to the Nazi lager system. The names of Mauthausen-Gusen and Flossenburg concentration and extermination camps are sadly known to the Bustocchi, as dozens of their fellow citizens died there. On 25 April 1945, when the partisans took over, Busto Arsizio gave voice to the first free radio channel in northern Italy since the advent of Fascism.

After the war, the city turned increasingly on the right of the political spectrum as its bigger industries in the 1960s and 1970s decayed, to be replaced by many familiar small enterprises and a new service-based economy. Today, the town represents a major stronghold for both Forza Italia and Lega Nord right-wing political parties.


Main sightsEdit

The most important buildings of the city are the churches. In Busto Arsizio there are several of them, built in the last millennium. Many of them are reconstructions of former churches.

Shrine of Santa Maria di PiazzaEdit

The most remarkable building of the Renaissance period, indeed the only remaining, is the shrine of Santa Maria di Piazza ("Saint Mary of the Square"), also called shrine of the Beata Vergine dell'Aiuto ("Blessed Virgin of the Help"). The building stands in the city centre. It was built between 1515 and 1522. The village of Crespi d'Adda, built up for Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, is home to a smaller version of the shrine.

Saint John the Baptist's churchEdit

Paintings in Saint John the Baptist church.

The church of Saint John the Baptist, in the city centre, was built between 1609 and 1635 by Francesco Maria Ricchini, but the bell tower is older (between 1400 and 1418). The façade, finished in 1701 by Domenico Valmagini, has many statues and decorations. In the interior are numerous paintings by Daniele Crespi, a celebrated painter born at Busto Arsizio, such as Cristo morto con San Domenico and Biagio Bellotti. The square in front of this church was built over the ancient cemetery.

Saint Michael Archangel's churchEdit

The third biggest church in the city is the Church of Saint Michael Archangel (San Michele Arcangelo). Its bell tower, built in the 10th century, is the oldest building in Busto Arsizio; originally it was part of a Lombard fortification. The present church was built by the architect Francesco Maria Richini. In the church there are some relics, the most important of which is the body of San Felice Martire.

Saint Roch's churchEdit

Built up after the 1485 bubonic plague and dedicated to Saint Roch, invoked against the plague, it was rebuilt from 1706 to 1713 thanks to offerings made by the lawyer Carlo Visconti. Inside the church, there are frescos by Salvatore and Francesco Maria Bianchi (1731) and Biagio Bellotti.

Museum of Textiles and IndustryEdit

The Museum of Textiles and Industry was officially inaugurated in 1997 after years of restoration, and its collections are representative of Busto's economical history. They explain how the city developed from a small agricultural village to a thriving, industrial center of manufacturing and commerce in a few decades.

Traditional festivalsEdit

An example of the Giöbia.

The patron saints of the city are Saint John the Baptist and Saint Michael Archangel, whose feasts are traditionally celebrated on 24 June and 29 September.

In recent times the town council has given also civic relevance to celebrations that up to now were almost completely of a religious kind. During winter it is an established tradition since time immemorial the burning of the Giöbia (historical spelling: Gioeubia), a (usually) female puppet, symbolizing the "chasing" out of winter and its troubles, and on a more sinister note, the change from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society in ancient times. Time ago each family prepared its simple puppet to be burnt, and then its ashes were dispersed to fertilize the fields as good omen.[5] Now the celebration is more organized and publicly supported, but still heartily felt by the populace.

Busto Arsizio has two carnival masks, called Tarlisu and Bumbasina from the name of some typical textiles.

Carnival in Busto Arsizio.


Mina, an Italian pop star was born in Busto Arsizio. Italian violinist and conductor Uto Ughi was also born and is currently living in the city.


Stadium "Carlo Speroni", the home ground of Pro Patria.

Busto Arsizio is the host for the Federazione Italiana Sport Croquet, the lawns being located at the "Cascina del Lupo" Sporting Centre just outside the town.

Pro Patria Calcio football club plays in Busto Arsizio (at the Carlo Speroni Stadium).

The football team has reached many times the qualification for the access to Serie B National Championship, but unfortunately, the team has not joined the division yet since 1965-1966.

Pro Patria A.R.C. Busto Arsizio is the athletic society.

Yamamay Busto Arsizio is the main volleyball society of the city and plays in the first national division.

One of the most important athletes of Busto Arsizio is Umberto Pelizzari, born on August 28, 1965, widely considered among the best freedivers of all times. Other important athletes are the former twirling world champion Chiara Stefanazzi, the former footballers Carlo Reguzzoni, Antonio Azimonti, Aldo Marelli, Egidio Calloni, Natale Masera and Michele Ferri.

Busto Arsizio is also the city where the Italian volleyball player Caterina Bosetti is born.


Busto Arsizio is served by two railway stations: Busto Arsizio railway station, managed by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, and Busto Arsizio Nord railway station, managed by Ferrovienord.

Initially, Busto Arsizio's area was selected by people only for one specific reason: the facility of transports, because of its location, the city is exactly in the middle between Varese and Milan, so there are more or less 30 minutes of travel to go to the two cities, departing from Busto Arsizio.

International relationsEdit

Twin towns—Sister citiesEdit

Busto Arsizio is twinned with:

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Altro che celti. Sono liguri gli avi dei Bustocchi Archived 2006-09-19 at the Wayback Machine Varesenews, November 21, 2002
  4. ^ Pisoni, D. (27 March 2015). "Dal fascismo alla resistenza, cosí nacque la Manchester d'Italia" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  5. ^ La Giöbia dai Liguri antichi al Duemila Archived 2009-01-13 at the Wayback Machine Varesenews, January 25, 2007

External linksEdit