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Lombardia

It may be that many of the tourists who visit Milan or Lake Como every year don’t realise they’re in Lombardy. A bit like a giant version of Molise, the Lombardy region is overshadowed by its most famous destinations. In Lombardy there’s no sea, but there’s everything else. The snow-capped mountains of Valtellina provide winter fun, and in summer you can escape from the city heat to one of the picturesque villages reflected in Italy’s largest and loveliest lakes.

It’s the perfect destination for romantics, but also for foodies. In fact, though it’s true that in Milan they speak international and they eat international, it’s equally true that provincial Lombardy is a treasure trove of excellent food and wine routes. It’s hard to choose the best in a region where there are no half measures. Here everything’s top notch. From Milan, the undisputed temple of fashion and Italian lifestyle to the region’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are a total of nine of these, ranging from prehistoric graffiti in Val Camonica to the workers’ village of Crespi d’Adda. Industrial development has not eliminated the history evident in medieval villages such as Angera on Lake Maggiore.

Lombardy moves fast, but it also knows how to take time to enjoy the fruits of history, good living and abundant nature. Are you ready to explore?

Art lovers can’t neglect a visit to magnificent galleries like the Museo del Novecento, although Lombardy boasts numerous cultural sites and there’s no shortage of surprises outside Milan too. Unparalleled architecture in the historic towns of Mantua and Bergamo Alta, small villages packed with history and artistic treasures of enormous interest. The course of history runs quickly in this region, among medieval abbeys and the ruins of Lombard settlements, in a land that has always been forward-looking. The leading edge for today’s artists – like Dario Fo – and those of times gone by, from Manzoni to the rebel Caravaggio.

The roots of Lombardy’s gastronomic excellence lie in its considerable cultural and agricultural traditions, such as the rice paddies of Lomellina. The sparkling wine is the elegant Franciacorta and the still is from robust mountain varieties like Valtellina Nebbiolo and Barolo. Lombardy cheeses bear substantial names such as gorgonzola and taleggio, today part of our shared culture, as is the veal cutlet, that faithful and comforting lunchbox favourite. Slow Food Presidia and gourmet products that reflect the region’s diversity, from lake fish to river crayfish. Fine dining experiences in award-winning restaurants or rustic trattorias. In either case, a feast for all the senses.

This one’s easy: Milan is the capital of Italian fashion. Not to be missed are Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone, authentic metropolitan catwalks of fashion and style. Clearly there is no shortage of outlet centres, some of which – like Franciacorta Outlet Village – attract shopaholics from all over the world. I recommend losing yourself among the narrow streets of the city centre, where artisans’ workshops still survive, offering incomparable histories – like the master violin-makers of Cremona, the most skilful in the world.

There’s no sea here, and yet for centuries water has been the distinguishing element in the Lombardy region. So much so that massive land reclamation operations were needed to take back the land from the swamps. The mirror-like water of flooded rice paddies, the lakes and the Ticino river, 100 kms of which runs through protected nature reserves. Plains, Alps and Prealps. With its mountain villages, historic villas and monumental parks, the Lombardy landscape is a true kaleidoscope of colours.

As you might expect, in Lombardy you’re never bored. We’re talking about a region where there’s something for everyone to do. Let’s start with mountain sports, for instance. Besides skiing on the fabulous pistes of Bormio, the mountains offer exciting activities such as snowboarding, relaxing moonlight snowshoe treks and countless walks in the warm spring sunshine. In Monza there’s one of the world’s most famous Formula 1 race tracks, while the San Siro stadium hosts some of Europe’s major football matches.

Lombardy is blessed in terms of wellness too, being home to some of the country’s top thermal baths, where you can treat yourself to unique combinations of relaxation and energy. From the super-famous Terme di Sirmione in the breathtaking scenery of Lake Garda to high-altitude wellness at the Bormio thermal baths. In Milan, meanwhile, you’ll find extraordinary luxury spas where you can find balance among saunas and massages.

Is it a coincidence that’s Milan’s a great place for drinks? The city’s nightlife is world famous and begins at sunset with the ritual of the aperitif , a constant fixture in everyday Milanese life. Here the bars and restaurants are among the best in Europe, and so is the extremely lively music scene. Top international stars often make exclusive visits to the city, with concerts and events in the classic venues the Forum di Assago or Alcatraz. don’t miss the Sagra dei Crotti, entertainment of a completely different kind, in Val Chiavenna.

Spiritual places immersed in nature and always characterised by significant artistic legacy. Lombardy is traversed not only by the Via Francigena but by dozens more extraordinary pilgrims’ routes. Visitors seeking spiritual peace should make a stop at the ancient Morimondo Abbey. Lastly, it’s fascinating to observe and experience Milanese religious life. The city pauses every year on 7th December to celebrate its beloved patron, Sant’Ambrogio. And the chaotic community comes together once more in the “Oh Bej Oh Bej” Christmas fair.

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lombardia

Excellences of the region

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