Italian Tourism Official Website. Lombardy италия
Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to taste
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country, sharing a border with Switzerland. Stretching from the Alps to the lowlands of the Po Valley, it is home to a wide range of landscapes, including the breathtaking mountain chain that boasts the Valchiavenna, Valtellina and the Camonica Valley. Winter sports enthusiasts will find no lack of state-of-the-art facilities in Lombardy, for example in the extremely popular resorts of Tonale, Bormio, Livigno and Madesimo.
Another aspect that defines the region is its expanse of rolling hills that encompass the distinctive Franciacorta area, famous for its vineyards and wine production. The charm of the great lakes is a great tourist draw, attracting visitors to Sirmione and other well known destinations dotting the western coast of Lake Garda, while Lake Como and Lake Maggiore are no less beautiful, surrounded as they are by stately homes, parks and picturesque small towns. The region is also characterized by the great flat tracts of the Po Valley lowlands, covered by shimmering mirrors of water and rice paddies: this is the typical landscape of Lomellina, the land of rice harvesters, steeped in tradition. The region has countless other distinctive facets. Lombardy, aided by its geographic position and fertile soil, will captivate you - nature, history, art and culture marry in harmony with innovation, technology, fashion, entertainment, and a contemporary outlook.
The region comprises the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantua, Milan (regional capital), Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio and Varese.
The region has much to offer in terms of its natural, cultural and architectural perspective. There are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Mantua, once ruled by the powerful Gonzaga family, and Sabbioneta, the defining “ideal city” of the Italian Renaissance; the Sacred Mountains, a devotional route in the Varese and Ossuccio area; the prehistoric rock paintings (petroglyphs) of the Camonica Valley; the Rhaetian Railway that makes its way through the mountainous landscapes of Albula and Bernina; the 19th-Century industrial settlement of Crespi d’Adda and, finally, Milan, with the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie that contains the Last Supper, the celebrated Leonardo Da Vinci fresco.
Still in Milan, a major architectural masterpiece is the renowned Teatro alla Scala. The imposing Duomo (Cathedral) is absolutely extraordinary, constructed in white marble and dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. As for Monza, make sure to visit the Autodromo, the state-of-the-art motor racing track, and the Villa Reale, a former royal residence. Then there is the Cathedral, where the ancient Iron Crown is kept, reputedly concealing a nail from the True Cross.In Brescia, of particular interest is the Saint Salvatore Monastery, while the craft and tradition of violin-making, most famously seen in the work of Stradivarius, lives on in Cremona.
Pavia is the "City of 100 Towers,” the Visconti Castle, and a renowned University. Meanwhile, Varese is known as the “Garden Province,” and Sondrio hosts the stupendous Masegra Castle, which owes its charm to its fusion of diverse epochs and styles.Lecco's fame can be attributed to I Promessi Sposi, a masterpiece of a novel by Italian author Alessandro Manzoni, who opened the book with the image of the splendid branch of Lake Como where the city stands.Bergamo, rather, is the site of the Accademia Carrara, one of the largest Italian painting galleries; the Colleoni Chapel and the Teatro Donizetti, dedicated to Bergamo's most illustrious citizen and composer.The Medieval city of Lodi is characterized by the porticoes in Piazza della Vittoria, decorated by the Duomo and the Palazzo Comunale.Finally, Como, on the extreme western arm of the lake, is known for its gorgeous villas, e.g. Villa Olmo, an imposing Neoclassical structure.
The mountains, the plains and grand lakes of Lombardy form the perfect backdrop for a vacation filled with nature, athletics, rest and routes for discovering the territory. The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina, with their popular resorts of Livigno, Bormio, Aprica and hundreds of kilometers of slopes to match every ability level. In summertime, the mountains offer the excitement of scaling the Adamello and other ranges, as well as possibilities for rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months.
The mountains of Lombardy are also a good place for a relaxing holiday, thanks to the various spas rich in therapeutic thermal waters - for example the Boario and Bormio Spas, surrounded by a beautiful park. Lake Garda, just like Lakes Como and Iseo, ensures a restful and entertaining holiday, with the chance to sail, windsurf, water ski, canoe, cycle, trek, boat and take excursions to the surrounding areas.
Tourists can choose from countless itineraries that will allow them to discover Lombardy’s most distinctive and unique features. The Sacred Mountains (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) offer exceptional spiritual and natural trails. In Valchiavenna one can discover the traditions of a land that was the meeting point between Italy and Northern Europe for centuries. The nature reserves around the Navigli Canals reveal many different and enchanting landscapes, from the hills of Brianza to the green banks of the River Adda. Gourmands can follow any, or indeed all, the Wine Trails, from Valtellina to the Lodi area, as well as to the Pavia Oltrepò or to around Mantua, and ending in Franciacorta, famed all over the world for its sparkling wines. This is a unique journey through the vineyard-covered terraces and hills, stopping off at wineries and local producers to imbibe their delicious wines and taste the well-known local specialties.
Lombardy’s food specialties range from delicious saffron risotto and the breadcrumbed cutlet cotoletta alla Milanese, to the consommé of Pavia with its egg accompaniment and a pork and cabbage cassoulet.Valtellina’s contributions to Lombardy gastronomy include pizzoccheri (a buckwheat version of tagliatelle), bresaola (air-dried salt beef), cured salame of Varzi and finally, fresh water fish, especially the dried and grilled lake whitefish. Among the region’s most celebrated and delicious cheeses are Gorgonzola, from the town of the same name; Mascarpone; the unpasteurised Lodigiano; parmesan-style Grana; Robiola soft cheese; and Bel Paese.
Milan’s panettone and other Christmas sweets are renowned worldwide, as are the almond-flavoured Amaretto liqueur from Saronno, Mantua’s sbrisolona (crumb cake), and nougats from Cremona. Lombardy’s wines go by names like Grumello, Inferno, and Sassella della Valtellina, while the wines and spumante produced in Franciacorta occupy a monumental spot in this category, particularly the Bonarda and Barbera wines of Pavia Province.
Brescia - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
Steeped in a unique landscape where nature is at it most verdant, the province of Brescia is a land of scenic beauty enshrining a host of locations of archeological, artistic and historical interest.Brescia Province extends between the Po Valley, the pre-Alpine mountains and the Trompia Valley.The largest province in Lombardy, it includes three beautiful lakes (Garda, Iseo and Idro) and three valleys (Camonica, Trompia and Sabbia).
The landscape is varied, from the small marinas of Lake Garda and the green hills of Franciacorta to the ski slopes, small villages and historical town centers, not to mention the remains of ancient Camuni settlements. Long before the Gauls, in fact, in pre-historic times, the land was inhabited by a Ligurian people, the Camuni, who left behind the richest collection of expressive forms before the invention of writing in Valcamonica and Capo di Ponte. The entire area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Province of Brescia is regarded as one of the most ancient and beautiful cities in Italy, its urban and architectural heritage manifest in its main squares: Piazza del Foro, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Loggia and Piazza della Vittoria. It also boasts monuments such as the Tempio Capitolino, the Complesso di Santa Giulia, the Duomo Vecchio and the Duomo Nuovo, the Broletto, the Loggia, the Castello and the Teatro Grande.
Several Provincial archaeological museums house relics from the Bronze Age and subsequent eras. Not to be missed are the museums of Boario Terme, Valle Sabbia, Gottolengo and Sirmione, a lovely town famed for its spa on a slender peninsula in Lake Garda. Then, Desenzano boasts its typical old marina and a 16th-Century Cathedral.
The fortification of Borgo San Giacomo is worth a visit, as are the eight nearby castles: Farfengo, Padernello, Motella, Acqualagna, Villagana and Villachiara. The ancient Basilica of Verolanuova and the Romanesque Church of San Patrizio are also of great historical interest, while Lakes Garda, Iseo and Idro offer views that over the years have inspired so many poets, e.g. Catullus, Dante, Joyce and Gabriele D’Annunzio. The latter once resided at the Vittoriale degli Italiani at Gardone, the estate he built and donated to the Italian people before his death.
In the Province of Brescia, nature lovers can enjoy an excursion to Valcamonica aboard a small train that snakes its way through Medieval villages and on to the Val Trompia, in the shadow of pristine mountains. This is an ideal location for sports enthusiasts and for those who simply wish to relax at spa resorts like those in Boario, Sirmione, Gardone Riviera, Limone sul Garda and Ebrusco. The mountains, with the perennial snows of the Passo Del Tonale, form a natural amphitheatre at the border between Lombardy and Trentino, and offer opportunities for skiing year-round, with plenty of slopes to choose from and modern ski-lifts. And trails abound for trekking, cycling and mountain-biking in Valcamonica, including the Stelvio and Adamello Parks. Or, spend a charming weekend following the local wine routes.
Franciacorta, for instance, can be explored by car, bike or motorbike; experience its multi-colored scenery, its rolling hills from Brescia to Lake Iseo, and the ancient abbeys, palaces, castles, monuments and villas. Not only, but its prestigious wineries demonstrate how the exquisite and world-renowned sparkling wine of Franciacorta is made. Other wine routes cover the wines of Garda and of the Colli (Hills) Longobardi.
Lake Iseo, boasting the largest lake island in Europe, Monte Isola, offers sports such as paragliding and sailing.Meanwhile, automobile enthusiasts should not miss Italy's Millemiglia, a nationwide, multi-day parade of the world’s finest vintage cars that begins in Brescia every year.
The cuisine of the Province of Brescia is both traditional and modern at the same time, and even varies depending on the location. The area surrounding the lake district is renowned for its fish dishes, cooked in every imaginable way. In the mountains, pasta dishes are made with aromatic herbs and different types of cheese, such as the tasty Bagoss. In the area south of Brescia, where animal cultivation and hunting are traditional, the sausages and game are excellent.
The mild climate on the banks of Lakes Garda and Iseo is ideal for olive growing; thus among the typical products of Lombardy is olive oil. The extra-virgin olive oil produced around Lake Garda possesses exceptional taste and aroma, confirmed by its P.D.O. label. The typical dish of Valcamonica is sheep sausage, chopped lean meat mixed with skimmed broth of sheep bones. Another Valcamonica product is the strinù, local salame cooked on charcoal or a hot plate, or even boiled.
Finally, the stuffed pigeon is cooked in accordance with Brescian tradition (it should be accompanied by a wine the caliber of the Valcalepio red). Among the cheeses are the Stilter from the Alpine foothill zone, Casolet Dell’Amadello, and the sweet-flavored Formagelle from Lake Iseo. And finally… wine: connoisseurs and novices both must try Franciacorta. Then, among the D.O.C. wines are Botticino, Capriano del Colle, Trebbiano e Rosso and Cellatica. Lake Garda D.O.C. wines include San Martino Della Battaglia and Lugana, along with several classic reds and whites.
Bergamo - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
Bergamo and its Province are ideal destinations for those who love art, culture, and/or sports, thanks to its well-appointed touristic offerings. Tourism in the area, in fact, takes advantage of masterpieces, whether manmade or nature made, all amidst a pleasant climate and ancient history. The Province of Bergamo is situated in the eastern Lombardy Region, occupying the central section of the Alpine foothills and a small expanse of the Po River Plain. The north of the Province is a mountainous region, connected to the south by land straddling the hills and the Po River Plain. The territory of Bergamo boasts landscapes that combine nature and human presence in a harmonious way.
Its valleys (Val Brembana and Val Seriana are those foremost, giving way to smaller, but no less evocative valleys) are the locations for numerous ski slopes of varying degrees of difficulty, served by an extensive network of ski lifts. These valleys are not only beautiful in winter: they reveal their sweeter side during summertime, perfect for excursions amidst the lush vegetation bathed in light. Meanwhile, in autumn, the forests covering the hillsides are an explosion of browns and reds, a fairytale landscape that seems to change daily.
The Lakes of Lombardy, at the border with Brescia, include Lake Iseo, ideal for water sports, boat trips, or visiting the surrounding villages; and Lake Endine, considered to be a wildlife oasis surrounded by woods and reed beds.In the area incorporating Val Cavallina, Val Calepio, Alto and Basso Sebino, the lakes are marked by more distinctive, geographical outlines, and the surrounding hills and peaks with their own particular environmental features contain within a wealth of historic and artistic heritage.
The streets of Bergamo, surrounded by city walls and nestled on a hill, retain the look of a Medieval village, enclosed by its strong walls built by the Venetians in the 16th Century when the the most Serene Republic was at the height of its power; more than three centuries of prosperity and economic development have left their mark in the monuments, institutions and the character of its people. Testaments to this period are the well-preserved palaces, churches and public squares, such as the group of buildings comprising the Duomo, the Colleoni Chapel and the Baptistery, just to mention a few, along with Piazza Vecchia (the old public square) and Palazzo della Ragione.
The Accademia Carrara, one of the most important art galleries in all of Italy, must not be missed, along with Teatro Donizetti, dedicated to the most illustrious citizen of Bergamo, Gaetano Donizetti, and where famous works are performed. Elsewhere in Bergamo Province, the Medieval architecture alternates with more recent architecture of outstanding artistic value, such as the Church of San Tomè, a Romanesque jewel dedicated to Saint Almenno Bartolomeo; and the Church of Santa Barbara, that houses an important cycle of frescos by artists the likes of Lorenzo Lotto and Trescore Balneario. The Castle of Cavernago is a powerful defensive structure, converted over the years into noble residences enlivened with frescoes. Many palaces - splendid patrician residences – are also scattered throughout the territory.
Caravaggio is well worth a visit, with its important Marian Sanctuary - dating from 1451 - and Pontida, the location of a Benedictine monastery where the Lombard municipalities met in 1167 to swear to defending their freedom against Federico Barbarossa. The workers’ town of Crespi d’Adda (founded at the end of 1800) enjoys UNESCO status as a World Heritage Site; it is a small town built around an old, disused factory and homes, built for the factory workers at the time but still in use today. The company town of Crespi d’Adda is considered one of the most complete and best-preserved of its kind in southern Europe; it can be visited with a guide or alone.
For winter sports enthusiasts, the ski resorts of Orobica in the Alpine foothills offer snowboarding, ice skating and ski slopes for holidays with the best in sport, nature and high-quality services.
Those who prefer a holiday devoted to health and fitness amidst the fresh air and beauty of the mountains should head for the Sant'Omobono Terme in the lush Imagna Valley. The Seriana Valley offers a range of paths and trails for cycling, trekking and walking while seeing villages of rare beauty; or perhaps the Gromo Castle, built in 1226 atop a rock dominating the valley; and the Serio Waterfall that, at 1,033 feet is the highest in Italy and among the highest in Europe.
Itineraries that touch on the Province's natural oases begin in the Parco dei Colli di Bergamo that encompasses a large valley surrounding the city, and move on to the Regional Natural Reserve of Valpredina, a WWF oasis, with typical Alpine wildlife and botanical gardens, where Mediterranean vegetation has been artificially cultivated and adapted to the local climatic conditions. The evocative mountain pathway, the Sentiero dei Fiori (the path of flowers) in the boroughs of Oltre il Colle and Zambla is worthy of note for its plants dating back to the Ice Age.
The Lombardy Region's lakes are the destination of choice for those who love sailing, windsurfing, mini-cruises or simply strolling lakeside.From the Villa d’Adda, a ferry - a craft originally imagined up by Leonardo da Vinci - runs along the Adda River: it is a 197-ft wooden boat connecting Lecco to Bergamo. Finally, the Terme di Trescore is a spa offering invigorating waters, health, wellness and relaxation.Bike paths are also bountiful in Bergamo Province, with 124 miles' worth traversing many of its most evocative and inspiring sights and locations.
Bergamo is a land boasting a varied and tasty range of gastronomic products: from cheeses and desserts to cured pork meats to polenta, culinary delights exist to satisfy every palate. The classic Bergamo starters or antipasti are Casonsèi de la bergamasca and Scarpinocc de Par, prepared with fresh pasta; they are genuine delicacies for those who love fine dining.
Bergamo remains the home of polenta, classic or taragna (accompanied by the excellent, dairy cheeses of the local tradition), served with game or stew.
Plenty of desserts will tempt even the non-sweettooths: Clusoni cookies, covered in chocolate; San Pellegrino cookies; the famous polenta e Osèi de la Bergamasca made with sponge cake and butter cream, chocolate and nuts; Treviglio Cake and Donizetti Cake.
The traditional olive oil of Sebino accompanies the Provincial dishes; the oil is produced in a vast area surrounding Lake Iseo. The wines are varied and prestigious, especially in the hilly area running from the River Adda to Lake Isea (the Valcalepio area). Valcalepio has seen the renaissance of wine production in the Province of Bergamo, above all at the beginning of the 1970s, when skillful development of the vines began and led to the red, white and Moscato Passito wines being awarded the prestigious D.O.C. certification.
Every district of Bergamo is also famous for its cheeses: branzi, from Val Brembana, the formai de mut and taleggio, taking its name from Val Taleggio where its production began c. 10th-11th Centuries. This is regarded as the best cheese to pair with polenta dishes and wines from Valcalepio. Another typical cheese is the stracchino bronzone - one of the most characteristic products of Basso Sebino - a soft cheese the authenticity and quality of which have made it a candidate for the P.D.O. label. Bergamo is also famous for its honey production, regarded as the perfect accompaniment to cheese.
Como - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
Along the western side of Lake Como, between Como and Bellagio, lies a journey of discovery of the Sacro Monte of Ossuccio on the Island of Comacina, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area is a cluster of old Medieval towns, 18th-Century villas and mountainous nature trails.
The territory of Como is rather varied, with the aforementioned mountainous areas, lakes and valleys. The City of Como lies at the base of Mount Brunate and is surrounded by hills and the Alpine foothills that watch over the southern part of Lake Como. Beginning with Como, at the furthest point of the western arm of the lake, one encounters beautiful communities one after the other, tucked away in the mountains that lie alongside the calm waters.
All the lakeside towns are perfect vacation spots year-round. They are accessbile reached by boat, funicualr or car, via little roads with splendid views of nature unspoiled. Everywhere in Como, homage is paid to native Alessandro Volta, the celebrated inventor of the battery.
The Province of Como offers many natural routes for excursioning. The most luxuriant of them are in the Val d’Intelvi, between Lake Como and Lake Lugano. The 7.5-mile long Intelvi Valley is a mix of lush plains and gentle hills that lead to the Alpine foothills, and at its center is Lanzo, accessible from Ardegno by crossing the woods and roads dotted with ancient town centers and noble villas; and San Fedele, which also offers tourist accommodation facilities.
In summer, stroll through the natural surroundings of the Lariani Hills or pick a sport to practice on Mount Sighignola in winter. A trip to Comacina Island is a must: enjoy its archaeological remains from the 2nd Century B.C., including a beautiful Romanesque abbey church located in amidst the woods of Mount Costone; here, only silence and calm reign, and the only sounds are those of the fishermen at work in the bay. Facing the island is the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio, leading up to the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine del Soccorso via a mountainous pathway marked by olive trees, hills and 17th-Century chapels.
The most famous place is Bellagio, which has preserved its historic town center surrounded by ancient city walls; its narrow roads begin at Lake Como's shores and run through the hills to a series of lakeside luxury hotels and elegant shopping streets. The town’s ancient origins are visible in its Romanesque Cathedral dedicated to San Giacomo, the interior of which seems unchanged from the 12th Century. At the height of the promontory are two classic examples of 18th and 19th-Century noble villas: Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi. Be sure to visit their extensive grounds, boasting beautiful views and gardens in the styles of their times. Brunate is the town closest to Como, and can be reached via the old funicular. Halfway between Como and Brunate lies a hermitage, the Eremo di San Donato, awash in the plant life of these upper reaches. The hamlet of Brunate abounds in paths that touch on Art Nouveau architecture and eventually lead to the Church of Saint Andrew.
Then, another evocative place is Laglio that, in addition to its charm, also lies near an enchanting patch of woods and the “Bear Cave” (buco dell’orso) where fossils of the prehistoric bear and other remains were found and are now displayed in Laglio's Town Hall. In Moltrasio, the music of its river accompanies those that walk its banks, while stately villas recall the nobles' affinity for this area where they built their summer residences: Villa Passalacqua, Villa Pasola, Villa Erker Hocevar and Villa Ghisio (which also hosted composer Vincenzo Bellini time to time). Special mentions go to Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo and its splendid gardens and museum, extraordinary masterpieces of both natural and human ingenuity.
Finally, Briennio is a typical Medieval hamlet tucked smack-dab between the lake and the mountains; it is dotted with typical little roads that retain its ambience that whispers of history. The Church of Saints Nazaro and Celso makes for an intriguing visit - with its churchyard commanding an evocative view of the lake - as does the Church of Sant'Anna, one of the oldest churches in the Romanesque style. A trip to Baradello, a couple miles from Como, should be on travelers' to-do list. A tower and a 12th-Century castle stand in the hills, surrounded by the Spina Verde Park and fortified walls. The ancient monuments, the natural beauty and the panorama make this a highly-pleasant route. Baradello also lends its name to the annual Medieval Palio that takes place at the beginning of September; a typical knightly jousting contest between the various districts, it is actually staged in Cernobbio, an internationally-renowned touristic destination.
Lake Como is the most important of Lombardy's lakes.
A trip aboard a sailboat or motorboat offers thrilling emotions and sensations for those that find the Lake's inlets and coves, hidden by the green of lakeside woods.Those that prefer a bit more activity have a wide range of choices at hand, from windsurfing courses on the lake and paragliding on Mount Cornizzolo, to golf courses, trekking and mounting biking.
In summer, take a reviving nature walk along a trail traveling the Lariani Hills; or, if here in winter, practice winter sports on Mount Sighignola. High-quality shops stocked with local products, particularly silk, are scattered along the charming roads in Bellagio's town center, as are numerous artisan bottegas producing ties and scarves as well as clothing and household materials.
Como Province's cuisine is closely tied to its primary natural resource, the Lake; the locals thus churn out their favorite fish platters based on trout, tench and perch. Yet the taste of the mountains is also alive and well, with polenta and game dishes pleasing many a palate daily.
Really, the typical dishes are many and varied, and run the gamut from savory to sweet.Visitors should taste the luganega sausage, the length of which starts at about seven inches but which can reach epic proportions; liver mortadella; and the missoltitt, dried, salted fish.
The area's most common cheeses are crescenzine and Zincarlin, spicy goat cheese. Curious about the dessert menu? Ataloc di Menaggio and the Paradell di Tremezzo will certainly tempt your tastebuds. Finally, among the red and white wines are the Rosso di Bellagio, Vespertò di Canzo, while the best liqueurs are made by the Piona friars using local herbal essences.
Milan - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
Large, lively and industrious, the Province of Milan is the second most populous in Italy. Its territory extends over a stretch of the Po Valley and includes the River Ticino to the west, and the River Adda to the east. It is shaped by its waterways: river and canals that traverse it and sometimes border it, from the Lambro and Olana Rivers to the numerous canals, the Navigli Milanesi, ancient links between the area's major water runs. These runs link farmsteads and villages like that of Corneliano Bertario with the Castello Borromeo Castle; and ancient noble villas, such as the Inzago Villa near the Naviglio Martesana, to the Canale Villoresi, thought to be the longest man-made canal in Italy. The Villoresi marks the natural southern border of Brianza, an area in Lombardy noted for its mountains, lakes and plains.
The territory of Milan contains six regional natural parks: Parco Adda Nord, Parco Agricolo Sud Milano, Parco delle Groane, Parco Nord Milano, Parco della Valle del Lambro and the Parco Lombardo della Valle del Ticino.Half the Province of Milan is agricultural and flood plain, and most of it is protected by reserves. Each of these habitats features a variety of natural, country and architectural landscapes of great interest.
Reassessment of the artistic heritage of Milan and its province eventually led to a better understanding of the historical periods during which the city was planned and developed, and its most important monuments erected. Roman-era Milan, for instance (or Mediolanum, as it was known in Antiquity), is hidden within museums, inside churches, palaces, and in the underground excavations, often found squeezed between today's structures.
The city's major period of development was the Renaissance, which coincided with princely rule of Milan. During this period, the Sforzesco Castle and the Filarete Tower were built, with Parco Sempione just behind, in the heart of the city and in view of the Cathedral, a great symbol of Milan’s power at the time, and a fine example of the Gothic style. Next to Piazza Duomo is the Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery, considered the "living room" of Milan for its elegance and for interior shops. One of the best-known buildings is the neo-classical Palazzo Reale, alongside the Cathedral, now hosting art exhibitions. Not far away is the Ambrosiana Library and Painting Gallery, with its rich collection of canvases by great artists such as Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael. Then, the Brera Gallery, in the eponymous district, hosts another major collection of Italian paintings, including masterpieces the caliber of the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantenga. The Poldi Pezzoli Museum, rather, is regarded as one of the largest museums in Europe for number of works. Hidden away is Santa Maria delle Grazie, a church bearing the work of Bramante (in the church and old sacristy) and Leonardo da Vinci, whose beloved The Last Supper is housed in the refectory of the convent annexed to the church. Marrying culture and sports, and certainly one of the city's most iconic structures, is Milan's San Siro Stadium, that hosts the first and only Museum inside a soccer stadium. The Museum narrates the history of Milan's two teams, Inter and Milan, by way of singular "relics" from the sport's history.
So much artistic wealth should not overshadow the nearby towns in the rest of the Province, boasting a few artistic treasures of their own: castles, villas, abbeys and palaces. One of the most important is Monza with its Villa Reale, its park and its Cathedral. In Corbetta, the Casa Corbellino or Castelletto is a typical example of a building constructed over the remains of a castle, later restored and expanded. In Novate Milanese, the Casa de’ Busti and the Oratory of Saints Nazaro and Celso (Gesiò) are typical examples of a noble residence and an oratory dating back to the 16th Century. Of great interest in Abbiategrasso is the Church of Santa Maria Nuova, whose facade is adorned with the large porticoes designed by Bramante. Just a few miles away, on high ground dominating the Ticino Valley, stands the Abbey of Morimondo, an exemplar of fine Cistercian architecture from the 12th Century.
Milan’s Medieval abbeys are also unique draws: Chiaravalle and Morimondo of the Cistercian order, Viboldone and Mirasole of the Humiliati order. North of the regional capital, the elegant villas offer parks and nymphaeums of incomparable beauty; to the east of the city, on the River Adda, art meets nature and offers magnificent examples of industrial architecture amidst the natural surroundings: the hydroelectric power station of Taccani at Trezzo Sull’Adda is one of these.Castles are another piece of the territorial assets. The Castello Borromeo d’Adda stands on the river banks of the Muzza at Cassano d’Adda, and dates from the 9th Century; restoration works here have even uncovered frescoes from the school of Giotto. In Legnano, the Castello di San Giorgio was built atop a pre-existing Augustinian convent in the 13th Century. In Cusago, the Visconti Castle is regarded as a major example of castle architecture in the region. And finally, in the zone south of Milan reside San Colombano al Lambro and the Castello Belgioioso, in addition to Casalpusterlengo, with its crenellated Tower of Pusterla. Milan is most known for industry, finance and fashion, but a greener Milan of Arcadian beauty absolutely exists: think winding rivers, e.g. the Adda that forms rapids and canyons in the northern area of Trezzo; and the Ticino, traversing wood-abundant lands and small islands, and protected by the Natural Freshwater Park, perhaps the largest in Europe. The enitre zone is even crossed by channeled, often subterranean waters first created by monks from the Middle Ages, whose labor improved the Po River Valley. Later, Leonardo Da Vinci lived here during the Sforzas' dominance, inventing a system - the famous Navigli Milanesi - to regulate the canals' water levels and make them navigable.
Every year, the Council of Abbiategrasso hosts the Palio San Pietro, consisting of an historic parade through the town streets, with people dressed in typical Medieval costumes and a costumed, bareback horse race (the palio), in which six districts compete for the Cencio. In addition to the Sagra del Carroccio, Legnano offers a spectacular event of folklore: the horse race, in which jockeys hired by the various town districts to ride bareback. The race is preceded by a historic procession made up of thousands of people in Medieval costume.In Milan, between the Naviglio (Canal) Grande and the Naviglio Pavese is the antiques market of the Navigli. This is the most important market in Milan, with more than 400 stalls displaying furniture, porcelain, silver and all sorts of objets d’art and collectible items. Every year in Milan, December 7th brings the Feast Day of Sant’Ambrogio, its Patron Saint, to whom the oldest church in the city is dedicated. The Festival of the Immacolata takes place on December 8th, with the feast of Obeo Obei, with an outdoor market featuring vendors of everything from mulled wine to artisan goods.
In Trezzo sull’Adda, visit the Adda di Leonardo Eco-Museum, an open-air museum passing through ten towns, with 14 stations and 47 stops along the River Adda. In Canegrate, Roccolo Park is the biggest park in Milan Province, incorporating wooded fields, hedges and canals; one would do well to cycle along the Villoresi Canal. Or, for a dip in the invigorating local hot springs, the Terme di San Colombano al Lambro offers diverse categories of thermal waters. This large thermal park is also equipped with entertainment facilities and plans excursions to neighboring areas. Wondering what else to do? Trace the Navigli on bicycle, and you will eventually find yourself in spectacular, pristine nature. Rest in one of the many agritourisms, known for their accommodations and excellent cuisine based on the produce from their land. Not only, but horseback riding and golf are some of the other activities available within the beautiful countryside.
Between the plain of Lodi and the Bassa Pavese, and approximately 25 km from Milan, stands the Colle of San Colombano, where vines have been cultivated since ancient times, and whence the famous D.O.C. red wine of San Colombano derives. Wine, of course, is a natural accompaniment for cheese, and those typical to the Province of Milan include Grana Padano, Gorgonzola, Stravecchio and Crescenza. Among the cured meats, Milano Salame, with the unique added feature of grains of rice, and the Luganega of Monza, a sausage meat used in Lombardy to add flavor to risotto and soups, stand out. The gastronomic culture unites the two contrasting traditions of Pavese and Lodi cuisines. Recipes include frog omelette, saffron risotto, pumpkin risotto, cabbage soup, Casoela, mixed boiled meats, and the famous Cotoletta alla Milanese (chicken cutlet or chicken-fried chicken).
Among the typical desserts are the Panettone, a large, bready Christmas cake, the Easter Colomba, bread with raisins, Torta Paradiso with mascarpone and Charlotte alla Milanese , a cake made with Rennet apples and pears.
Lodi - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
In the heart of the Po River Valley, the Province of Lodi is agricultural land dotted with a fascinating array of castles and religious sanctuaries. The gently-sweepingLodi plain is interrupted here and there with bodies of water and, after all, was in part formed by the floodwaters of the River Adda. It is fertile with a sub-stratum of clay, used in local ceramics production. The terrain boasts various protected areas and natural parks, notably the Regional Park of the Southern Adda that straddles Lodi and Cremona. The characteristic vegetation is the poplar tree, while the distinguishing features of the landscape are wetlands and swamps inhabited by many animal species. The Natural Reserve of Monticchie is marshy but sprinkled with old mills and farmhouses; other verdant areas are the Boscone Farmstead and the Paradiso Fish Park.
Castles and churches are a distinctive trait of this area, dating from the era when the River Adda was an important defensive line for the Empire. Those who wish to tread the old Via Francigena that once connected ancient Rome to Gaul should walk from Orio Litta to Corte Sant’Andrea, where an ancient ford was once used by pilgrims. Several museums, in Cavacurta, Cavenago d’Adda, Livraga, Mairago, Montanaso Lombardo and Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, recount ancient farming traditions. Meanwhile, a tour of historic centers and villas should take in the villages of Borghetto Lodigiano, Sant’Angelo Lodigiano with its Visconti Castle (one of the best-preserved in Lombardy), Camairago, Castiglione d’Adda, and Codogno for its 16th-Century paintings in both the Collegiate Church of San Biagio and the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Caravaggio.In Lodi Vecchio, the Romanesque Basilica of San Bassiano dates from the 4th Century A.D.;with its remarkable frescoes from the first half of the 14th Century and inspiring surroundings, is a must.
Lodi retains its mostly Medieval layout, starting from the remains of the Visconti Castle, built alongside the city walls in 1370; moving on through Piazza della Vittoria - ringed as it is with characteristic colonnades and overlooked by the Cathedral and the Palazzo Comunale - the visitor arrives at the Churches of San Francesco and Sant’Agnese in their austere, Medieval appearance, and after, at the 13th-Century Church of San Lorenzo. Lodi is also the guardian of one of the most important relics of the Lombard Renaissance, the Sanctuary dell’ Incoronata, centrally-planned in the Bramante style and embellished with stucco and frescos of rare beauty and created by the most important artists of Lodi and Lombardy. Finally, check out the Cistercian Abbey of Saints Peter and Paolo and the 12th-Century Cerreto Abbey, Villa Biancardi in Casalpusterlengo (Zorelsco district), the Litta Carini Villa in Orio Litta, and the former Convents of San Cristoforo and San Domenico in Lodi, now the governing seat of the Province of Lodi.
The peaceful countryside, the scenic stretches of water and the excellent cuisine are an invitation to relax, but for those enthused for outdoor activities, bike routes run alongside stretches of water, and lead to the discovery of artistic beauty of the towns. Canoeing and other sports are also options on the River Adda (east of Lodi).
An additional, interesting way to explore the terrain is by visiting the Province of Lodi's farmsteads, for instance that of Grazzanello, which has been converted into a fascinating agricultural museum. Not only, but Lodi possesses a fine ceramics tradition, dating back to the 16th Century and regarded as the jewel in Lodi’s cultural and economic crown. The craft even obtained the D.O.C. classification under the brand “Vecchia Lodi,” the only such label for handmade products in Lombardy. And the city is listed by the Italian Association of Ceramics Cities, as the town center contains many old workshops where age-old techniques are still employed.In addition, a number of interesting museums invite travelers to visit: the birthplace of Santa Francesca Cabrini (the Patron Saint of Emigrants) at Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, the Museo Cabriniano and the Lamberti Art Collection in Codogno, the Paolo Gorini Anatomical Collection in Lodi itself, and the Prints and Art Prints Museum, and the private collection "The World of the Nativity Scene" in Salerano sul Lambro.
Many gastronomy festivals that take place during the year are devoted to local produce, drawing a great many tourists. A land so involved in agriculture cannot fail to delight the palate.The pride of local produce include cheeses, the most famous being mascarpone, along with Pannerone, Lodi Granone - all cheeses with flavors that these days are becoming hard to find - and the Raspadura, a grana-like fresh cheese traditionally served in thin slices and cut with a special knife that makes the cheese curl in on itself. The national favorites, i.e. Gongorzola and Stracchino, are also produced here. Typical dishes are: rice with sausage, fried polenta, hare stew and wild pigeon. Among the delicious recipes are the Uselin De Scapada, mouthfuls of bacon, liver and loin, and frogs either fried or in a stew. Among the starters are omelettes cooked in numerous ways, including Cun le urtis (tips of very thin asparagus that grow wild) and Rugnusa (with sausage).
The aforementioned Pannerone (the name comes from the Lombard dialect for cream, panera) is a soft, fatty cheese and, contrary to almost all cheese, is not salted, thus lending it a very characteristic taste).For Lodi's celebrations of its patron saint, San Bassiano, it is tradition to eat Buseca, boiled tripe with beans and filson (strings of boiled chestnuts), every January 19th.Polenta is served with many dishes. One noteworthy dish is the Pulenta pastissada, made with sauce, ground beef, butter and flakes of grana cheese layered over the polenta. Vegetarians will appreciate the ratatouille, an herb quiche served with polenta.Finally, the desserts include the most typical cake of Lodi, the Tortionata, an almond cake with ancient origins. And not to be left out is the Easter lamb (a pastry filled with cream), Lodi cannoli, cookies of Codogno, Casale cake and amaretti.
Sondrio - Lombardy - Discover Italy
- What to See
- What to Do
- What to Taste
The Province of Sondrio is a fascinating mix of different styles and eras. It is known as a place where man demonstrated his ingenuity by terracing the rugged lands that host its renowned vines.
Enclosed within the heart of the Alpines, the Province occupies the northernmost part of the Lombardy Region. Lying at opening of Valmalenco, Sondrio is in the Valtellina's center. Typical are the vineyards sprawling over the foothills below the Rhaetian Alps. For centuries, the valley's northern slopes have been cleared of woods and rocks to terrace and cultivate these vines (both an economic and cultural asset of the Valtellina). They are an extraordinary testimony to man's ability to transform nature and terrain, despite unfavorable local and climatic conditions.
Sondrio is replete with artistic treasures. The city center includes Piazza Garibaldi with its elegant, neoclassical buildings, and the Cinema-Teatro Pedretti, built in 1820 according to architect Canonica's design.Narrow streets lead from the new to the old city center, elaborate in its styles from different eras - Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical, modern and contemporary. Also from here, we can see the Medieval Castello Masegra, with a panorama of the vineyards. Numerous castles and towers stand in evocative locations of great strategic importance. See de li beli miri Tower in Teglio, Castel Grumello north of Sondia, Bellaguarda in Tovo di Sant’Agata or the castles in Grosio, to name just a few. Sanctuaries abound here, particularly the Blessed Virgin of Tirano, the Madonna della Sassarella standing on a promontory among the vines at the gates of Sondrio. Many are the churches as well, everywhere serving as spiritual repositories housing astounding treasures, precious expressions make for an interesting artistic route along the Valley.
An important addition to the territory are the ski resorts of the “Skiarea Valtellina”: Alta Valtellina, Aprica, Valmalenco and Valchiavenna. The district boasts 249 miles of slope for Alpine skiing, and more than 124 mi for Nordic skiing. All of this resides within famous international resorts such as Livigno, Bormio, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Valdidentro/Valdisotto, Aprica, Chiesa in Valmalenco and Caspoggio, Madesimo/Campodolcino and Valgerola, a network to which the summer ski resort of Passo dello Stelvio has been added.Valtellina is also a summer destination, and in the warmer months shows off an explosion of color in its numerous nature parks and reserves, that include the likes of Stelvio National Park, the largest nature park in Italy; the park in Orobie Valtellinesi, with the Alpine ecological and wildlife observatory at Aprica; and the Nature Reserve of Val di Mello, an ideal oasis for nature lovers.
Valmalenco is easy to reach from Sondrio, and is ideal for excursions and mountain climbing. Its high peaks and imposing glaciers make it ideal for various excursion types. The valley is of glacial origins; very narrow at its lower section, it is divided into two parts: one side of the valley enters the Disgrazia massif, while the other is part of the Bernina Mountain Range. The heart of the valley is the town of Chiesa in Valmalenco, also a major ski hub in the Region. The Valtellina path is a long, relaxing route - open to cyclists and walkers - of almost 93 mi; it crosses a large part of the lower valley, and runs along the River Adda. This path is part-asphalt, part-earth, and flanked by lush vegetation that grows along the river, an area of great environmental value.
Around Sondrio, visitors can practice as many sports as come to mind, from trekking to golf, skiing to mountain climbing. The territory to the south of Sondrio belongs to the Orobie Valtellinesi Park, and is ideal for trekking and mountain biking, while a scenic golf course lies just 5 km from Sondrio, in Caiolo. Major ski resorts include the Chiesa in Valmalenco, Caspoggio and Lanzada. They make up a touristic zone that offers excellent accommodation facilities, along with adequate infrastructure for vacation and athletic activities. The covered swimming pool, tennis courts and other sports facilities offer further opportunities for recreation and relaxation. The Sondrio Festival is not to be missed; it is an international documentary fest pertaining to natural parks and reserves, and is held every October. Finally, the Province also boasts thermal spas dating from ancient Roman times; the therapeutic waters in these terme can be enjoyed whilst admiring the splendid scenery of the surrounding mountains. These spas include the Bormio Spa, Bagni Vecchi, Bagni Nuovi in Valdidentro, and the Bagni of Masino.
Typical products of the local gastronomy are Bresaola PGI, the P.D.O.-certified cheeses Bitto and Valtellina Casera, the PGI-labeled apples of Valtellina, honey and mushrooms. The Bresaola, low in fat, is highly-recommended for the health-conscious and gourmands alike. Also worth tasting are the sausages, salame, bondiola and liver mortadella. Mushrooms, then, are widespread in the Valtellina and its environs, including the prized porcini, gathered in the dense woods of the valley. Finally, the most renowned dish here is the pizzoccheri, buckwheat pasta, topped with plenty of Alpine butter and Valtellina Casera cheese.
Let's move on to everybody's favorites, dessert and wine: the typical cake is Bisciola, also known as pan de fich, a type of sweet bread made with figs, nuts, raisins and dried fruits, often eaten at Christmas.Viticulture plays a fundamental role in Valtellina's agriculture, remarkable given its difficult topographical and climatic conditions; the highly-adapted approach to cultivation here is the outcome of generations of labor and ingenuity in transforming arid rock into terraced vineyards, resulting in the famous DOCG (Denomination of Protected and Guaranteed Provenance) red wines: Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella, Maroggia and, above all, the Sforzato.