15 Things To Do in Lombardy
What kind of Italy traveler are you? Do you search for fine art, rich history and exciting adventures, or is fashion, design and luxury your destination? Italy truly has something for everyone and here in the region of Lombardy, culture thrives, the past intertwines with the present and the landscape is breathtaking.
You don’t have to go far from Milan to enrich your cultural knowledge, explore new heights or enjoy a frivolous indulgence. Milan and the region of Lombardy offer a selection of activities and locations, no matter what kind of traveler you are.
Note: Although Lombardy is in partial lockdown at this time due to Covid-19 restrictions, Easy Milano remains committed to offering valuable information about Milan and the surrounding areas with the hope that we will soon be able to explore. This guide was written in collaboration with Scalo Milano Outlet & More.
Shopping in Milan / Photo Scalo Milano Outlet & More
Shopping in Milano
Not going shopping in Milan is like visiting Rome and not seeing the Colosseum. In Milan, fashion is in the air and the Milanese exude natural style. The beautiful displays of the boutique windows and revolving doors of the department stores entice and invite you in to browse. The fashion district, known as The Golden Quadrilateral, is made up of via Montenapoleone, via Borgospesso, via Della Spiga, and via Sant’ Andrea. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, found in the heart of the historical center, is one of the oldest glass covered shopping galleries in Europe. Finding world-class, made in Italy brands is easy in the city center, but finding bargains is not. To find the same Italian luxury brands like Borselino, Flavio Castellani, Cavalli Class, Enrico Coveri, Patrizia Pepe, Barbuti, or Carlo Pazolini, go to Scalo Milano Outlet & More. You will save up to 70% on Italian designer brands with an excursion to the Scalo Milano Outlet.
International Shoe Museum of Vigevano
After shopping at the Scalo Milano Outlet, you may want to step back in time and visit the Vigevano shoe museum. Did you know that the stiletto heel was invented in Vigevano in 1953? In Vigevano they have been crafting shoes since the 14th century. It became a central production area for footwear when the Bocca brothers opened the city’s first industrial shoe factory in 1866. The International Shoe Museum is housed in the fifteenth century setting of the Sforzesco Castle and is the only public museum in Italy dedicated to the evolution of footwear. The museum follows the history of the ancient trade starting with documentation dating back to 1392 up to the present day. Fashion icon, Marilyn Monroe once said “Give a girl a good pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.”
Como Silk Museum
The namesake town of the lake, Como, became a world-renowned center for silk production in the 15th century when Ludivico Sforza the Duke of Milan, planted mulberry trees in the area. Silk production was a small industry at the time, but the Duke was an astute businessman and knew the trees would increase trade potential. Silkworms can survive on anything, but they only produce silk when they eat mulberry. Como became famous not only for silk production, but the usage of textile production techniques and innovative Italian design made Como silk one of the most desirable fashion items of 18th and 19th centuries. The Educational Silk Museum was opened in 1990 and has a permanent exhibit rich with a heritage of machines, looms and designs. Temporary exhibits featuring designers, themes and eras rotate frequently.
The nearby Antonio Ratti Foundation is also a great destination for the fashionista. Antonio Ratti was a passionate collector of antique textiles. The Textile Studio Museum at Villa Sucota, holds more than 3,300 artefacts and more than 2,500 textile sample books.
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci/ Photo Wikimedia
The Last Supper
Located in the center of Milan, The Last Supper occupies the entire north wall of the refectory of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This was the chamber where the friars met to eat, pray and meditate during their meals. Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Super between 1494 and 1498 under the rule of Ludovico il Moro who commissioned the artist to paint Christ and the twelve apostles. Rather than using the traditional Fresco techniques of the time, da Vinci experimented with the “a Secco” dry method. The preparatory white layer prevented the pigments from absorbing into the wall and almost immediately after the work was completed it started deteriorating. The image has been replicated, restored, and preserved making it one of the world’s most iconic works of art.
Brera Picture Gallery
The Brera Art Academy of Milan is one of the oldest in Europe. The Pinacoteca was originally the academy student gallery and developed throughout history to become the home to some of Italy’s most famous masterpieces; Lamentation of Christ by Mantegna, Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, Marriage of the Virgin by Raphael, the Kiss by Hayez and works by other important artists such as Bramante, Giovanni Bellini, Fabriano, Tintoretto, Canaletto, Lorenzo Lotto, Piero della Francesca, Mattia Preti, Umberto Boccioni and Georges Braque.
Palazza Tè Mantua
Palazza Tè /Photo Wikimedia
Listed in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites for its exemplary renaissance architecture and art found in the city center, Mantova is the destination for the art and history buff. In particular, Palazza Tè and its cloistered courtyard. The frescoes are the most remarkable feature of the Palazzo. Once the shell of the building was completed in 1534, it took ten years for a team of plasterers, carvers and fresco painters to decorate every surface and room. Local decorative painters such as Benedetto Pagni and Rinaldo Mantovano worked extensively on the frescos of Palazza Tè. The Sala di Psiche features an Olympian banquet and in the Sala dei Cavalli, noble horses decorate the room. The most unusual of all is the Sala dei Giganti with a mural of giants and grotesque creatures wreaking havoc and fury.
Royal Palace of Monza / Photo Villa Reale Monza Press Office
Villa Reale Monza
The Royal Villa of Monza is a neoclassical palace built and used as a private summer residence during the Austrian domination of the 18th century. It became a royal palace during the Napoleonic Kingdom and was used by the royal family during the Kingdom of Italy of Savoy. Architecturally it was inspired by the Royal Palace of Caserta. With 700 rooms, today it is a museum and most of the rooms and salons can be visited. A gallery hosts temporary art exhibits and in the spring and summer, the immense park and gardens are open to the public.
Perched on the hillside and held up by medieval stone walls, the upper city of Bergamo Alta welcomes visitors with artisan ateliers, hidden courtyards, arcades, and a long ancient history. The ancient bell tower, Torre Civica, known as Campanù in Bergamasco dialect, dates back to 1652 and echoes over the historical city center of Piazza Vecchia, Palazzo della Ragione, and Palazzo Nuovo. You can visit the tower and walk up the 230 steps. Every night at 10PM the bells toll 100 times, an ancient reminder for guards to close the protective city gates. The city walls built during the Venitian domination (1431-1453) were listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2017.
Church and Certosa di Pavia
Interior of the cathedral / Photo Museo Certosa di Pavia
The Certosa di Pavia is a Carthusian monastery located just north of Pavia dating back to 1396. A masterful work of engineering and masonry, the immense structure of meticulous brickwork arches supported by marble columns is fascinating to see. The facade of the Certosa is decorated with sculptures of legendary creatures and historical figures. Scenes of the Old Testament and Christ with the Saints and Prophets decorate the upper exterior. The interior of the church was inspired by the Milan Duomo cathedral and retains its original gothic structure. The church was built at the behest of Francesco Sforza and frescoes dedicated to the families of the Sforza and Visconti are found in one of the transepts. The tomb of Ludovico and Beatrice d’Este by Solari is also found within the church.
Hiking in Valtellina /Photo Lombardia Press Office
Mountains of Valtellina
Valtellina is the valley between Italy and the Swiss Canton of Grigioni. The Adda River cuts its way through the valley making it a perfect place for rafting, canoeing and canyoning. The Tresenda – Castione trail is popular for mountain biking and fat biking. The Valtellina area is the main trail of the 14 stages of the Stelvio Pass – Valchiavenna trek. After you are done hiking, biking and canoeing, try some of the local specialties like Pizzochieri, Bito cheese and the locally produced Valtellina wines such as or Sasella.
The Adda River
Cycle along the Adda River /Photo Lombardia Press Office
The Adda River headwaters begin in the Alps near the border with Switzerland and flow south through Lake Como, the cities of Grosio, Sondrio, Lecco, and Lodi reaching Castelnuovo Bocca d’Adda at the border of Emilia-Romagna where it joins the Po. In addition to rafting, canoeing and canyoning in the valley, cycling the banks of the Adda River from Lecco to Milan is a pleasant ride through riverside towns and hamlets. The bike path is mostly car free and flat. You can stop to see the San Michele Bridge across the Adda at Paderno, the ferry designed by Leonardo da Vinci in Villa d’Adda and the Industrial Village of Crespi d’Adda.
Lake Garda is one of the few European golf destinations where you can play golf all year round. Luxury golf resorts like Chervò Golf San Vigilio or the Gardagolf Country Club which has hosted European Tour tournaments are the perfect destinations for the golf enthusiast. Designed by Italian international champion Alberto Binaghi, The Golf Club Varese on Lake Maggiore offers 18 holes in which no two are the same. The Circolo Golf Villa d’Este at Lake Como is the 7th oldest golf course in Italy. Opened in 1926, it has been the stage of the Italian Open 12 times. Lombardy has over 70 golf courses and more than 23,000 golf association members, the travelling golf lover will easily find another player!
Thermal Spa at Lake Garda / Photo Terme di Sirmione, Scalo Milano
Thermal Spa Retreats
Luxury spa treatments can be found right here in Milan at some of its five-star hotels, but there is no substitute for natural thermal spa waters. The Terme di Sirmione at Lake Garda, has been popular since the Renaissance when its rejuvenating elements attracted nobility from all over Europe. Known for its therapeutic properties the Sirmione waters are naturally, bacteriologically pure and rich in natural mineral salts. Acqua di Sermione is rehabilitative for respiratory and rheumatic conditions and there is even a specialized pediatric center. Another natural thermal spa near Milan is the popular ski resort Bormio, known for hosting the annual Alpine Ski World Cup, it has been a spa retreat since Roman times. The medieval town center is a charming getaway, and the thermal waters are calming and regenerating.
Sparkling Wines of Franciacorta
Found in the Province of Brescia, near Lago Iseo, Franciacorta is best known for its sparkling wine production. The rich mineral soil and the west facing terrain is ideal for grape cultivation. International exporters like Berlucchi, Bellavista and Ca’ del Bosco have their headquarters here. Other smaller producers include Mosnel, Muratori, Lantieri, Majolini, Ferghettina and Cavalleri. A visit to any of the producers will not only provide insight on wine production but will also be a unique experience.
Lake Como Luxury
Bellagio, the Pearl of Lake Como / Photo Pixabay
Bellagio, the small village set upon the headland which joins the Como and Lecco branches of the lake is known as La Perla di Lago di Como (the pearl of Lake Como). Like a precious gem, the charming stone laid lanes and pastel-colored houses shine like a jewel. Luxury Hotels such as the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Grand Hotel Tremezzo and Villa d’Este have been attracting world travelers and celebrities since they became immortalized during the 18th century when Lake Como became a must-see destination on the celebrated Grand Tour. For a truly luxurious experience, take a sunset dinner cruise with your loved one.
As you can see, there truly is something for everyone right here in Lombardy. Have a question about visiting Lombardy? Contact us.
This guide was brought to you by
Scalo Milano Outlet & More
Shopping in Milan / Photo Scalo Milano Outlet & More
Scalo Milano Outlet & More offers a complete shopping experience just 15 minutes from downtown Milan the concept by the Lonati Group to create a unique shopping and entertainment district became a reality in late 2016 with the opening of Scalo Milano Outlet & More designer outlet mall.
Scalo Milano is not just an outlet, it’s a small city just 15 minutes from downtown Milan and offers a variety of shopping experiences: Fashion, Design and Food, brought together by a sense of refinement and selectivity, typical of #stilemilanese.
Article by © Celia Abernethy
Main image: Sirmione, Lake Garda / Photo courtesy Terme di Sirmione , Scalo Milano
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Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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