NORTHERN ITALY’S GEM: LOMBARDY
Sharing the Switzerland, Lombardy is one of the largest regions in Italy. Home to many cities, mountainous activities, and even lowlands and lakes, this region has much to offer. Lombardy begins at the Alps and ends with the Po Valley with a variety of must-sees in between.
Italy’s large, metropolitan, working city is where much of the country migrates to for work. It’s best known as a capital city in the fashion and design industries but is also home to one of Europe’s most well-renowned universities, Politecnico di Milano. While this is a fairly advanced city, there is also no shortage of history and old Italian charm.
The Duomo di Milano is one of the world’s largest Gothic Cathedrals and features a ticket option allowing visitors to visit the top, in order to better appreciate the detail and especially the golden Madonina that sits high above the Duomo’s roof. The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci is also a must-see in Milan but be sure to book tickets well in advance! The Teatro alla Scala is a famous Opera house and is thought to be a masterpiece of architecture. To the Northwest of Milan, is the city of Monza, offering an old royal residence, Villa Reale, and the famous motor racing track, the Autodromo.
Bergamo is also home to its own Duomo and is characterized by its two sections, the Upper City and city of Lodi. The porticoes and Palazzo Comunale make this city an easy day trip from Milan that’s certainly worth the quick train or bus ride. The city of Pavia offers a beautiful castle, the Visconti Castle, and is known as the ‘city of 100 towers.’ Another castle worth visiting is the Masegra Castle in the city of Sondrio.
Brescia offers a beautiful Monestary of Saint Salvatore, with and area to walk up and bask in the view of the entire city. Varese, the “Garden Province,” is well known for its plant life and beautiful vegetation. If you’re a music lover or really appreciate artisanal craftsmanship, head to Cremona, the town of violin making and the work of Stradivarius. Alessandro Manzioni put Lecco on the map with the famous Italian novel, “I Promessi Sposi,” even setting the stage with beautiful Lake Como.
Speaking of Lake Como… This region is home to a few very famous lakes. Como, Garda, and Maggiore are speckled with many small towns and also medium sized cities that welcome tourists from all over the world.
The town of Sirmione, on the tip of a small peninsula on Lake Garda is the stuff of fairytales. A stone, castle wall encompasses the city and sits on the aquamarine water of the lake.
Aside from the cities and lakes, Lombardy also offers a connection to the Alps and wine countries. The Franciacorta area is best known for its wineries, with a countryside full of vineyards. The chain of mountains such as Valtellina, Val Camonica, and Valchiavenna sit within the Po Valley, equipped with still waters and rice paddies. The Valley of Camonica shows a variety of prehistoric rock carvings as well.
The fertile soil, various natural terrains, and cultural sites in Lombardy make this region a unique contrasting point between pieces of history, nature, and contemporary, western civilization.