Located in the south-east of Lombardy, Mantua is one of the most beloved destinations in all of Italy, if a little off-the-beaten-track. Surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created over the 12th century, the city boasts natural landscapes and cultural sites that are hard to match, so much so that its old town and Sabbioneta – a commune nearby – were declared by UNESCO to be World Heritage Sites in 2007. The Gonzaga family lived in this city and made it an artistic, cultural and musical hub of northern Italy, meaning there’s oodles of art and culture to get through.
Lombardy is one darn popular destination over the winter for Italians, especially for skiers. With just under 800 kilometers of slopes reaching up to 3,450 meters of altitude, any winter tourist should venture to the Italian Alps here in order to enjoy breath-taking views and engage in some earnest skiing. Prices vary according to the resort, but some famous names are Livigno, Passo del Tonale, Aprica, and Montecampione.
The Duomo of Milan is regarded as one of the most renowned monuments and points of reference in the whole country. It is a great example of Gothic architecture, a style which does not abound in Italy, and is a stand out metropolitan basilica because of its central location in the Lombard capital. With the original construction dating as far back as 1386, but with modifications and enlargements having taken place over the centuries, this Duomo is always a must-visit.
Often regarded as the Italian Lake District, Lombardy boasts some of the major Italian lakes, such as Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Iseo. A holiday on a lake here can be a perfect alternative to the crowded seaside strips of Italy, and the landscapes are jaw-droppingly beautiful to boot. Come and explore high mountain trekking paths by foot, delve into ancient stories of armies and castles, or simply kick back and let the alpine waters sooth away your troubles.
Monte Isola, as the name would suggest to speakers of the Italian tongue, is a mountainous island located amidst the waters of Lake Iseo. Regular ferries are at hand to transport travelers from the shore of towns like Iseo and Lovere to the docks of the stunningly beautiful island (the largest of its kind in Europe), while there are several paths leading up to the top of the peak that forms the island itself, where old monasteries and forests of pines coalesce.
‘The Last Supper’ is definitely Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting. Housed in the refectory of the Convent of the enchanting Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, it is one of the most important masterpieces which are kept in the boot-shaped country as a whole (and there are a lot here). As the title suggests, it depicts Jesus’ last supper with the Apostles and it still counts as one of the finest examples of Leonardo’s masterful technique as well as of the Italian Renaissance at large.
Franciacorta is an area in the province of Brescia that is to Italy what Champagne is to France. It is in fact one of the most famous wine-making areas in northern Italy and is especially renowned for its production of Franciacorta – a cheaper Italian counterpart of champagne. Besides offering this great tipple to the nearby area as well as to the country at large, it also offers an enchanting countryside that melts into the mountains and the hills nearby. It definitely merits a visit, a cycling tour or a walk.
Whether tourists want to do some serious clothes shopping or just want to go window-shopping, Outlet Village has got them covered! In Lombardy, there are three outlet villages which are near two of the areas recommended above: one in Franciacorta, one in Mantua, and one in Segrate. With shops ranging from housewares to clothes to chocolate, every member of the family is sure to find something for them at these retail havens.
Established in 1983, the Parco della Valle del Lambro extends over the length of the river Lambro and figures as one of the most enchanting green areas in the whole of Lombardy. The park also encompasses a number of minor lakes, such as Pusiano and Alserio, as well as the park of Villa Reale of Monza. The latter is particularly rich in noble villas, thus making Parco Valle del Lambro an appealing option for culture seekers and nature lovers alike.
Valcamonica is one of the most famous valleys in Lombardy, known for its cultural significance and enticing regional foods. It measures 90 kilometers in length, from Passo del Tonale down to Lake Iseo. This valley is very ancient and there is evidence of human habitation from pre-historic times. A proof of this is the series of rock engravings that are dotted across the valley and which can be visited for free during a trek in the hills – culture and nature in one.