Surrounded by the rising foothills of the Alps, Lombardy is a region rich in culture, cuisine and castles. Famed for the Duomo of Milan, Lake Como and the Livigno ski resort, this enclave of northern Italy rarely fails to impress – whatever the season.
Once you’ve gotten over the jaw-dropping views of the Alps, you’ll realise that the Lombardy region has much more than just spectacular scenery to offer. The region stretches from the industrial wealth in Milan (home to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper) and northern glassy blue lakes to the historical town of Mantua. Here’s our pick of the best things to do when you’re there.
Northern Italy was the birthplace of the violin in the early 16th century, and Cremona boasts many of its finest makers. Trace the history of the instrument at the Museo del Violino, where you can see violins crafted by Stradivari. Breathe in the scent of the resin and wood as you learn how they are made. Then, if you’re brave enough, try playing one. You can also experience how it feels to be part of the orchestra in the immersive audio room.
Take in the beauty of the valley as you whizz down the mountains in Livigno. The resort is a winter paradise and caters to skiers of all abilities. Try your hand at skiing and snowboarding or try something different – like Nordic skiing and tobogganing. Experienced skiers can climb aboard a helicopter to try heli skiing from one of the nearby mountaintops, before schussing down to the lively après-ski bars in town.
Experience the authentic taste of the city of Mantua when you dive into traditional dishes from the region at Osteria dell’Oca. The recipes have been handed down through the generations, and the tortelli di zucca (pumpkin ravioli) is sublime. Expect some more unusual dishes, such as stewed donkey or boiled pike in a caper, anchovy and pepper sauce, but there are some veggie dishes, too. Save some room for the chocolate mousse, which is flavoured with Sambuca.
Monte Isola, as the name would suggest to speakers of the Italian tongue, is a mountainous island located on Lake Iseo. It’s the largest of its kind in Europe. Regular ferries are at hand to transport travellers from shoreside towns (like Iseo and Lovere) to the docks of the beautiful island. There are several paths leading up to the top of the peak that forms the island itself, where old monasteries and pine forests coalesce.
Luca Pinelli contributed additional reporting to this article.