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Lombardy

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Within its large territory the landscape comes in infinite variations: the Lombardy region ranges from the Alps to the countryside, from art cities to small hamlets rich in history, in what is Italy’s big lake district (there are more than fifteen lakes). Lombardy is also the perfect destination for those looking for a dynamic, exciting holiday, without getting bored.

 

Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral

 

Where to start exploring Lombardy? Especially from these ten sensational places:

 

1. Milan: main city in the region, very modern and versatile, it is always on the go to thanks to its rich calendar of cultural events, its historic itineraries and artistic treasures

 

2. Bergamo: its charming medieval historic center is protected by walls of the XVI and XVII century – Unesco’s World Heritage site – lying on the hills, in a very scenic location

 

3. Orobie Alps: a mountain range of protected areas and nature reserves stretching from Lake Como to Valtellina and Camonica Valley, among mountain huts, hiking trails and sports activities

 

4. Mantua: it’s one of the main centers of the Italian Renaissance, nestled in an evocative scenery embraced by lakes on three sides inside a protected nature reserve

 

5. Sirmione: a jewel on Lake Garda, its romantic center enclosed in the peninsula that carries the same name is renowned for its Roman remains and thermal waters

 

6. Lake Como: Italy’s third biggest lake, thanks to its alluring landscape has attracted artists, poets and celebrities for centuries

 

7. Franciacorta: in a hilly area between Brescia and Lake Iseo, is a wine region that links its history to the production of a praised DOCG sparkling wine

 

8. Valtellina: a paradise for outdoor lovers, this valley offers endless opportunities for a holiday in the mountains that combines sports, wellness, culture and good food

 

9. Monte Isola: it is the biggest lake island in southern Europe, a green mountain dotted with villages in the middle of Lake Iseo

 

10. Pavia and Certosa: a city with very ancient origins, it has an important historical legacy made up of great landmarks, first of which the Certosa, a religious complex just out of the city.

 

In Lombardy, there are almost 500 museums and more than one million cultural heritages: among them, the famous Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, the medieval Torrazzo in Cremona, that with its 11 meters is the tallest historic bell tower in Italy, and La Scala Theatre, in Milan, opened in 1778 and among the world’s most famous for opera. In addition, Lombardy is the Italian region with the highest number of Unesco’s world heritage sites: besides Bergamo’s Venetian Walls, also Mantova and Sabbioneta, the Rock Engraving Park in the Camonica Valley, the historic settlement of Crespi d'Adda, the Sacred Mountain of Beata Vergine del Soccorso and the Sacred Mountain of Varese, and the Rhaetian Railway, connecting Tirano, in Valtellina, to Sankt Moritz, in Switzerland.

From the lakes to the mountains, from the countryside to art cities, all across Lombardy there are plenty of opportunities for fun and leisure, for a dynamic, funny holiday devoted to sports, wellness, culture or food and wine.

 

Sirmione

Sirmione

 

Nature lovers can choose from a wide range of activities for any season: in the mountains, there are many trails of varied difficulty and length, and many mountain huts that offer hospitality. Highly scenic hiking trails are for example the Sentiero delle Orobie, a 160 km trail winding in the Parco delle Orobie Bergamasche, or the many trails of the Stelvio National Park, the Alta via dell'Adamello (only for expert hikers) or one of the ridgeways of Valtellina, like the Gran Via delle Orobie, an overall 130 km, or Alta Via della Valmalenco, 110 km long, recommended for experts only, or the Via dei Terrazzamenti, a 70 km long cycle-pedestrian itinerary among villages and vineyards, from Morbegno to Tirano. You can also have exciting walks with a view on the lake, for instance along the Sentiero del Viandante, a 45 km long trail along the eastern shore of Lake Como, or Via dell’Alto Lario, in the North-western part of the lake. If you want to practice climbing you can opt for Val di Mello, in lower Valtellina, the peaks of Adamello or one of the cliffs on Lake Como or Lake Garda. Valtellina is also the ideal place where to go rafting, hydro-speeding and kayaking; Lake Garda, Lake Idro and Val di Ledro for canyoning.

 

If you prefer moving by bicycle, in Lombardy you find many opportunities for bicycle touring: among the many itineraries is Sentiero Valtellina, 114 km from Bormio to Colico, on Lake Como; the Mincio Cycleway, connecting Peschiera del Garda to the city of Mantua flanking the stream of the Mincio river; the Garda Cycleway, right overlooking the shores of the lake from Limone to Riva del Garda; the Adda CycleWay, from Lecco to Milan, along the shores of the Adda river, and Ciclovia della Valle Brembana, from Bergamo to the upper Brembana Valley.

 

In winter ski and snowboard enthusiasts can count on modern ski areas with perfect snow conditions: among the main ones are the ski area of Ponte di Legno-Tonale (41 slopes, 28 ski lifts, an overall 100 km slopes), Aprica (22 slopes, 22 ski lifts, 50 km), Livigno (78 slopes, 32 ski lifts, 115 km), Bormio (18 slopes, 15 ski lifts, 50 km), Madesimo (30 slopes, 12 ski lifts, 37 km) and Montecampione (20 slopes, 11 ski lifts, 30 km). There are also many snowshoe itineraries and ice rinks as well as the possibility to have snowmobile tours with dinner in a mountain hut or helicopter tours. In the Camonica Valley and in upper Valtellina, it is also possible to have sled-dog tours, tours with a sled pulled by Siberian huskies.

 

Sui maggiori laghi lombardi è possibile dedicarsi a diversi sport acquatici: il Lago di Garda, il Lago di Como, il Lago Maggiore e il Lago d’Iseo sono la cornice ideale per la vela, per il windsurf e il kitesurf ma anche per sci nautico, canoa, immersioni, wakeboard e stand up paddle.

 

La Lombardia vanta alcuni degli stabilimenti termali più scenografici e noti d’Italia: a partire dalle Terme di Bormio, in Valtellina, già citate al tempo degli antichi romani, alle Terme di Sirmione, sul Lago di Garda, dalle Terme di San Pellegrino in Val Brembana alle Terme di Boario in Valcamonica.

 

Ricca di monasteri, abbazie e memorie storiche, la regione è una meta apprezzata anche per il turismo religioso: luoghi imperdibili sono il Sacro Monte di Varese, Patrimonio dell’Umanità dell’Unesco, l’Abbazia di Chiaravalle, la Certosa di Pavia, o l’Abbazia di San Benedetto in Polirone. La zona meridionale della Lombardia, tra Pavia e Lodi, è attraversata dalla Via Francigena, oltre ad altri percorsi interessanti come il Cammino di Sant’Agostino e il Cammino di San Colombano, nel Mantovano.

 

Dulcis in fundo, sono molti gli itinerari del gusto all’interno della regione: la Strada del Franciacorta, tra Brescia e il Lago d’Iseo, la Strada vino e sapori Oltrepò Pavese, nel Pavese, la Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori della Valtellina, la Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori Mantovani, la Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori della Valcalepio e la Strada del Vino e dei Sapori del Garda invitano a indugiare tra vigneti e aziende agricole dove fermarsi per degustazioni di vino, visite alle cantine e dove assaggiare le specialità più tipiche della regione.

The cuisine of Lombardy is rich and varied, with strong, rustic flavors that well combine with frigid temperatures and that tell of a close bond with nature and its own territory. Recipes passed down from generation to generation relive through modern reinterpretations yet respectful of traditions.

 

Risotto alla milanese

Risotto alla milanese

 

A journey to discover the food specialties of Lombardy can start at best with a tasty selection of local cold cuts and cheese: among the many typical cold cuts are Bresaola della Valtellina, Salame di Milano (also called crespone), Salame d’Oca di Mortara IGP or Coppa Mantovana; as for cheese the choice is really wide: Lombardy is the birthplace of some Italian excellences, like Grana Padano DOP, Gorgonzola, Bitto Storico, Salva Cremasco, Taleggio, Formai de Mut DOP and Stracchino delle Valli Orobiche.

 

As for first courses, famous dishes are pizzoccheri della Valtellina, a type of pasta prepared with buckwheat flour seasoned with potatoes, Savoy cabbage, cheese and melted butter, casoncelli, typical of Bergamo and Brescia, a kind of ravioli with a filling different from area to area, Mantua’s traditional pumpkin tortelli, and risotto, like the typical risotto alla milanese, with saffron, or risotto with Mantua pumpkin.

 

As for second courses, a region’s signature dish is cassœula, pork meat cooked with Savoy cabbage, veal alla Milanese, on the bone, bollito con la mostarda, mixed boiled meat with mostarda condiment, typical of the Cremona area, and many other meat dishes like braised meat and stew, to be accompanied by polenta or tasty polenta taragna (also excellent on its own or with mushrooms). A stay by the lake instead offer the right opportunity to enjoy some lake fish, like coregonus, tench or arctic char.

 

To end your meal, you should taste the Mantuan Sbrisolona cake, with almonds, amaretti di Saronno biscuits, Torrone di Cremona, Bisciola of Valtellina, a sweet bread enriched with dried fruits, Veneziana, leavened dough covered with sugar grains, a dessert typical of Milan like the most famous Christmas treat: Panettone.

 

Among Lombardy’s most excellent wines, a honorable mention goes to Franciacorta sparkling wine, to the wines of Valtellina (among the most valued Inferno, Sforzato, Valtellina Superiore), to Lugana of Lake Garda, to the wines of Oltrepò Pavese (among which especially Oltrepò Pavese Metodo classico, Barbera, Bonarda), to Moscato di Scanzo and Lambrusco Mantovano.

BY PLANE

 

Lombardy has three main airports: Milan Malpensa Airport, Milano-Orio al Serio Airport and Milan Linate Airport.

 

Milan Malpensa Airport is an intercontinental airport located in the province of Varese, 50 km away from Milan. The Malpensa Express Malpensa Express train directly connects the airport to Milan’s main railway stations. Different companies operates connections between the Malpensa airport and downtown Milan, the other Milan airports and many other cities:

 

Terravision: operates connections by bus to Milano Centrale railway station

 

Malpensa Bus Express: operates connections by bus to Milano Centrale railway station, to Fiera Milanocity and Rho Fiera

 

Malpensa Shuttle: operates connections by bus to Milano Centrale railway station, to Fiera Milanocity, Rho Fiera and Milan Linate Airport

 

Orio Shuttle: operates connections by bus to Monza, Milan-Orio al Serio International Airport and Bergamo

 

Flixbus: operates connections between Malpensa Airport and various destinations in Italy and Europe

 

Milano-Orio al Serio International Airport is located 5 km from Bergamo. Downtown Bergamo can be reached by ATB city bus service; many companies operates connections by bus to Milan, Milan airports and other destinations:

 

Autostradale: operates connections to Milano Centrale railway station, Milano Lambrate railway station, Brescia and Fiera Milano Rho

 

Orio Shuttle: operates connections to Milano Centrale railway station, Monza, Milan Malpensa Airport and Fiera Milano Rho

 

Terravision: operates connections to Milano Centrale railway station and to Cologno Monzese

 

Bus Center: operates connections to Parma, Reggio Emilia, Florence, Rome, Caserta, Avellino, Benevento, Naples, Salerno

 

Fly Sky Shuttle: operates connections to Paganella, Pinzolo, Campiglio, Folgarida, San Martino di Castrozza, Primiero, Val di Fassa, Val di Fiemme, Val di Sole, Passo del Tonale, Valle dell’Adige, Alpe Cimbra, Monte Bondone

 

Flixbus: operates connections to various destinations in Italy and Europe

 

Milano Linate International is the closest airport to Milan, located 8 km from downtown Milan. There many companies bus connections by bus to Milan, Milan’s airports and other destinations:

 

Airpullman: operates connections to Monza

 

Autoservizi Botti: operates connections to Pavia

 

Airshuttle Nord: operates connections to Brescia

 

Flixbus: operates connections to Bergamo, Milan-Orio al Serio Airport, Bologna, Siena, Bolzano, Genoa and Nice

 

Silvestri Autoservizi: operates connections to Livigno, Valdidentro and Bormio

 

BY TRAIN

 

Trenitalia and Italo Treno high-speed trains connect Milano Centrale and Milano Porta Garibaldi railway stations to all main Italian cities (Turin, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Bari), as well as Paris, Munich, Vienna and Canton of Ticino. Trenord regional trains operate direct connections to all the cities of Lombardy (Bergamo, Como, Brescia, Lecco, Lodi, Pavia, Sondrio, Monza, Cremona, Varese). In spring and autumn, Treno Blu of Ferrovie Turistiche Italiane organizes trips with historical and touristic trains to Lake Iseo.