The industrial and financial engine of the country, Milan is the most cosmopolitan of Italian cities, though it is nevertheless built on a long and winding history that stretches back into antiquity. It’s the perfect place to zoom through by car, passing from the glass-and-steel financial center into the thriving arts district, and further out into the peaceful little villages on nearby Lake Como.
Milan Porta Nuova
The Porta Nuova district of Milan is Italy’s most futuristic looking; geometric chrome surfaces rise sharply into the sky, carving out a glittering skyline. Since the late 2000s, it’s been in a period of accelerated development, with office towers and luxury residences shooting up like mushrooms. Home to fancy stores, cultural centers and towering art installations, this neighborhood has all the contemporary luxury of an urban commercial center. Here, visitors can stop and take in the best of modern Italy before moving onto Navigli; a lively district boasting the perfect mix of old and new.
A piece of Venice in Milan, this district is known for the navigable system of canals that dates back to the the 12th century. It fell into a period of decline post-World War II, but recent years have brought new energy and money into the area. Nowadays, it’s the Milanese equivalent of New York’s Williamsburg, with bars, restaurants, vintage shops and little art galleries springing up all along the streets. This is the perfect Milan district to stop off and enjoy some of the city’s most exciting nightlife.
Bar Vista Darsena
Open daily from 8am to 2am, this is a place to hang out all day and party all night. It’s also a hub for culture, hosting art exhibitions and live music sets from local DJs. You’ll have a beautiful view right onto the canal, and a buzzing and lively scene.
A charming village jutting out right over Lake Como, this town is a gorgeous maze of stone staircases and old buildings, blooming rhododendrons and sweet cypresses. A perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Known as the “Pearl of the Lake”, Bellagio is the perfect stop to enjoy a touch of romance thanks to its cobbled lanes and breathtaking scenery.
Villa Melzi Gardens
Looking out over the peaceful lake, this delightful villa with its English-style gardens is a slice of Napoleonic construction by the then-administrator of the Italian Republic Francesco Melzi d’Eril. You’ll find a verdant, flowering paradise with little surprises like the ancient Egyptian sculptures and Etruscan urns, as well as the statues of Dante and Beatrice. The gardens are open from 9:30am – 6:30pm daily and are a great place to stop for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Another picturesque town with a promenade on the waters of Lake Como, Menaggio has a medieval feel and some lovely paths that lead right into the mountains. It’s a great place to spend a weekend taking long hikes up to the peaks of the pre-Alps, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the natural landscape and delicious local food. This is the perfect stop for history buffs who want to enjoy culture and nature simultaneously.