Lombardy is Milan of course but there’s so much more to the area. It is nature, art, mountains, lakes, hills and historic cities. In short, a small world of beauty to discover.
The Region of Lombardy, one of the largest in Italy, is located in the north of the peninsula where the Alpine arc plummets to the great lakes. Further downstream, in the rich Po Valley, it borders Switzerland with which it is connected by fascinating passes and ancient railways.
- Nature and Landscapes
- The Historical Cities of Lombardy
- The small villages of Lombardy
- The flavors of Lombardy
The Alps, Valleys, Lakes and the Wide Plain
The range of landscapes that meet in Lombardy starts with the fascinating scenery of the Alpine chain in Valchiavenna, Valtellina and Valcamonica which offer large ski areas for enthusiasts in winter and green trekking and bike routes in summer.
The gem of the alpine is certainly the rail route of the famous Bernina Train, which since 2008 has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Initiated in 1913 as a connection for importing goods between Italy and Switzerland, over time it has become a privileged means of enjoying the suggestive landscapes that lead from Tirano to Saint-Moritz.
The lake territories are yet another Lombard landscape marvel. Quaint villages overlooking the blue waters that reflect the snowy peaks of the Alps and offer unmissable and adrenaline-filled opportunities for lovers of water sports.
The north-south route flows into the wider Italian plain, where the landscape changes and the rhythm slows down between the bends of the rivers and the green rice fields. Here the folklore and tradition remain intact and the suggestive architecture of the abbeys frames the long expanses of open sky.
Art and modernity are the symbol of Milan, the most cosmopolitan city in Italy. Through careful and successful urban redevelopment over the last 20 years, Milan has mended its urban spaces, giving continuity to the past and present with a glance to the future.
Milan is best experienced starting from the center of the city with its most imposing Gothic monument, the Duomo. Widening your gaze you will catch the imposing works of Sforza, the Castle and the Polyclinic. You’ll continue onto the Renaissance Last Supper designed by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and finally Bramante and its architecture.
Milan dedicates an entire downtown district to the excellence of Made in Italy and Fashion: the narrow streets that intersect Via Montenapoleone open up to luxurious boutiques with prestigious courtyards that host the showrooms of the greatest designers. Behind the Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, La Scala Theater, Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Marino tell the story of the neoclassical rebirth of the city.
It was at the Expo 2015, that city architecture was revived in its contemporary connotation by calling illustrious Archi-Stars to redesign important urban voids that have transformed the city skyline. The interventions of Porta Nuova with Piazza Gae Aulenti and the Bosco Verticale, recognized by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as the most beautiful and innovative skyscraper in the world and City Life, are a clear example of how the city of Design can constantly evolve by looking to the future.
Milan is innovation, but in Mantua you can breathe in the magic of a timeless place embraced by the three lakes generated by the Mincio river. Palazzo Te, just outside of town, is the Gonzaga’s sublime leisure villa designed by the architect Giulio Romano. The Camera degli Sposi, the fresco that alone is worth a visit to the city, is the masterpiece signed by Andrea Mantegna to whom Ludovico II entrusts the magnificent Palazzo Ducale complex. Another must is to go to Piazza Erbe with its market, the Palazzo della Ragione, the Clock Tower with the lunar cycles, the Museum of Time and the Bibiena Scientific Theater, a jewel of the ‘700 inaugurated by a young Mozart are all at the top of the list.
To fully enjoy the outdoors we suggest the Peschiera – Mantua’s cycle path, which runs on the sinuous bends of the Mincio, among hills, woods, enchanting villages, in a landscape that inspires serenity.
Combining history and modernity, the city of Bergamo presents itself with its medieval charm that observes the twenties architecture of Piacentini from above.
The Venetian Walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and which have survived intact, enclose the intricate interplay of alleys and shops hidden by long shadows that suddenly open onto the airy palaces of Piazza Vecchia and the Civic Tower.
The steep cobblestone stairways or the bold nineteenth-century funicular that slowly reveals the panorama of the city, lead to the Romanesque basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Colleoni Chapel and the Duomo. These charming places are treasure chests that hold works of immense beauty.
Lower Bergamo responds with equal artistic tension by keeping works by Botticelli, Raphael and Titian inside the neoclassical building of the Carrara Academy.
Medieval treasures scattered among mountains, valleys, lakes and the vast plain
Alongside the best-known Lombardy destinations, there is a more intimate and unexpected side of the region that is worth exploring. This area tells its’ story through the small villages that animate its mountains, its lakes and its plains.
Valcamonica enters the foot of the Adamello Park, a step away from Trentino Alto Adige which travels through medieval villages, alpine passes and, further downstream, meets the vineyards of Franciacorta, where the cellars open for tasting the famous bubbles.
From West to East there are four lakes that go to the foot of the Alps, offering enchanting panoramas that frame their identities. Short cruises to the Borromean Islands leave from the shores of Lake Maggiore, small treasures of a beauty that knows how to captivate the heart, but also vibrant sports, thanks to the breezes that ripple the waters. The coast of Lake Como with the spectacular neoclassical villas overlooking the two branches, has gained international prominence by hosting Hollywood stars literally bewitched by the charm of its medieval villages. And then, going east, the undisputed beauty of destinations that seem to chase each other on Lake Iseo. Monte Isola lies in the center, chosen by the artist Christo as the setting for his most recent work, The Floating Piers. Finally, the immense Lake Garda, which marks the border with Veneto and which, on the Lombard shore, tells about its “slow” identity, made of aperitifs on the Desenzano lakefront and relaxing days at the Terme di Sirmione.
Even the Plain knows how to express unexpected characters and unforgettable gastronomic surprises: the Oltrepò Pavese, land of excellent wines, welcomes wide hills cultivated with vineyards that go as far as the border with Emilia Romagna where the spectacular “Wine Route” of Piacentino the so-called Tuscany of the Milanese, begins. The medieval villages line up one after another without stopping to Liguria, along the panoramic Val Trebbia described by Hemingway as the “most beautiful valley in the world”.
The territory rich in landscape and climate contrasts produces a rich range of wines with high quality presence with DOC and COCG denominations equal to 60% of regional production.
The great diversification of the production areas extends from the terraces of the Valtellina to the morainic areas of the lakes to reach the Apennine hills of Oltrepò Pavese. The bubbles of Franciacorta, the reds of the Valtellina and the Barbera and Bonarda productions of the hills, guarantee the breadth of colors and scents that go well with traditional recipes.
The polenta is often accompanied by important productions of cheeses such as Fontina della Valtellina and Gorgonzola. The dairy-based creams are combined with risotto, among which the internationally known risotto alla Milanese or more simply saffron yellow from Mantua and the pizzoccheri from Valtellina stands out. Meats and lake fish are the basis for traditional recipes such as Cassoeula, Milanese cutlet and Lario perch.
The confectionery production sees the best pastry shops of the Milanese for the making of Panettone, those of Cremona for the Torrone and those of Mantua for Sbrisolona cake.
Explore the authentic Lombardy with these suggested tours
Discover the historical residences, art, and cuisine in Lombardy
This tour will lead you through historical homes, art, and fine cuisine, starting from the capital city of the Lombardy Region. You’ll also visit Sirmione, the jewel of Garda Lake, as you discover old-world living on the Lombardy plains.
Short Journey Between Beauty and Flavor in Lombardy
This is a tour to discover Lombardy’s gastronomic excellences, landscapes and places of surprising historical and artistic value.
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