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Magazine

Lombardy

7 cities of art to visit a short distance from Milan

Do you know Milan, but not its surroundings? 
We have selected 7 places worth discovering, Italian treasures no more than an hour away from Lombardy's capital.

1. At Monza with the painter Francesco Hayez

A good suggestion to start such a tour might be to head for Monza. The city has much to offer, we recommend the Portrait of a Young Woman by Venetian artist Francesco Hayez, a painting on display in the Musei Civici. Hayez was the leader of Italian pictorial Romanticism. The girl portrayed is believed to be Carolina Zucchi, daughter of the accountant who hosted the painter and with whom he had a love affair. 

2. Printing through the centuries in Lodi

From lead to the web the step was not short, but rather centuries long. Between art, paper and ink, a sea of events and stories come together in the Printing Museum. It was inaugurated in 2008 in the space of an old printing works and it is interesting to find objects from such a long time ago and so low-tech. Inside are chests of drawers with lead and wooden characters, cast-iron presses. There is a model of the press used in 1455 by Gutenberg to print the Bible, the world's first book.

3. An unmissable world-class museum in Bergamo

Carrara Academy - Bergamo, Lombardy

The Accademia Carrara in Bergamo is an Italian marvel and remains among the most visited museums on the peninsula. It dates back to 1794 and, after years of restoration, has returned to show itself in all its wonder, recounting five centuries of art.

4. Discovering silk in Como

The beauty of the Como Silk Museum is well known, and it winds its way through 12 rooms that tell the story of the art and production of this precious fibre. Its manufacture dates back to the 1400s, but with the Industrial Revolution, between the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, twisting and spinning machines began to multiply dramatically. Visitors can discover every detail, from silkworm cultivation to the finishing process, and view a vast collection of artefacts and objects. There is no shortage of textile machines and historical pieces. The city is, after all, particularly attached to this sector, as it is home to the Silk Institute and the Museo Studio del Tessuto, which houses the Ratti Foundation's collection of antique textiles. 

5. From Lecco, trekking to the Monastery

With the right shoes and comfortable clothing, this route offers a worthwhile trek. The destination is the Monastery of San Pietro al Monte in Civate, just outside the city and a true Romanesque masterpiece.

In Milan, just take the train to Civate, and from there, walk from Via Cerscera. In an hour or so, along an old mule track, you climb 630 metres, where the Monastery rises. Between a green clearing and a chestnut forest, it lies in an area of rare peace and beauty, facing south and overlooking the lakes. 

6. In Pavia with Antonello da Messina

His real name was Antonio di Giovanni de Antonio, better known as Antonello da Messina, and at the Pavia Civic Museums it is easy to get a real one-on-one with this incredible artist. The 15th-century painter inspired by great Flemish art has much to tell and in the Visconti Castle, since the Second World War, a permanent exhibition displays the Portrait of a Man attributed to him. It is an oil on canvas depicting an enigmatic face: seemingly determined to seek a dialogue with the viewer. 

7. In Vigevano, where the piazza is a musical symphony

This was also said by Arturo Toscanini when he came to the Piazza Ducale and experienced it like an open air musical symphony. This is because of its harmonious shapes and its almost rectangular layout, as it opens, with a portico, at the foot of the Castle Hill, with facades decorated with paintings. At the highest point of the city, stand the Tower, redesigned by Bramante and portrayed by Leonardo.