It is a well-to-do place, beautifully situated near the Lake of Varese, and for this reason a favourite summer and autumn resort of the Milanese, who have numerous country houses in the vicinity.
It was first employed by the Milanese in 1038, and played a great part in the wars of the Lombard league against the emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
Having established Ezzelino in Verona, Vicenza and Padua, he defeated the Milanese and their allies at Cortenuova in 1237, and sent their carroccio as a trophy of his victory to Rome.
The first Italian who formed an exclusively Italian company was Alberico da Barbiano, a nobleman of Romagna, and founder of the Milanese house of Belgiojoso.
Ren found supporters among the Italian princes, especially the Milanese Visconti, who helped him to assert his claims with arms. During the war of succession which ensued, Alfonso was taken prisoner by the Genoese fleet in August 1435, and was sent a prisoner to Filippo Maria at Milan.