Lombardy at a Glance
Lombardy is one of the wealthiest and most dynamic regions in Italy. It stretches from the Alps south to the Po valley, and is home to the gorgeous Italian Lakes, the vibrant regional capital of Milan and a clutch of historic cities, including Cremona, Mantua, Brescia and Bergamo. Whether you want to ski or sunbathe, go hiking or hit the fashion boutiques, Lombardy has a wealth of attractions to suit all interests! Milan is Italy’s undisputed capital of fashion and design, and boasts everything from glitzy shops to the La Scala opera house and the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, which contains da Vinci’s celebrated painting The Last Supper. The Italian Lakes – Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como – have been a popular summer retreat for centuries, and their shores are dotted with opulent villas and gardens.
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Mountain peaks and fertile valleys, dreamy villages and thrilling cities, gorgeous lakes and ancient towns – Lombardy truly is a dream destination! Its stunning capital is Milan, the most vibrant and dynamic city in Italy. World-famous for fashion and design, it’s packed with boutiques and shops, but also boasts an equally celebrated opera house, and is home to da Vinci’s painting of the The Last Supper. You could follow the celebrities to the Italian Lakes – Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como – which have a glorious mountain backdrop, and are surrounded by sumptuous villas and fairytale villages. Or get lost in the medieval time-capsule cities of Cremona, Mantua, Brescia and Bergamo.
Whether you want to blow the holiday budget on Michelin-starred restaurants, or prefer to dine in traditional inns in country towns, Lombardy has something to suit all tastes and budgets. This region is home to some of the most famous Italian dishes, including risotto, particularly risotto alla Milanese, made with parmesan and saffron, but you’ll find risotto with all sort of other delicious ingredients, from mushrooms to local sausages. In the mountains, polenta dishes are very popular, while down on the plain you’ll find pasta dishes, like the pumpkin-filled tortelli de zucca from Mantua. There’s a huge choice of locally produced cheeses and charcuterie in Lombardy, from gorgonzola to bresaola. And for dessert, you could try the Christmas treat, panettone, or the nougat-like torrone di Cremona.
There are oodles of things to do with the family in beautiful Lombardy, whether you simply want to hang out at a lido on the shores of Lake Garda or eat gelato on the enchanting squares of medieval Mantua. There are adventure parks and safari parks dotted across the region for a fun day out, and Milan is home to some brilliant kid-friendly museums, such as the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia (Science and Technology Museum). Kids will enjoy the beaches and huge array of water sports on the lakes, and active children will also love the fantastic mountain walks and picnic spots.
Action & Adventure
Lombardy stretches from Alpine peaks in the north to the fertile Po valley in the south, and its rich variety of landscapes makes it perfect for a wide range of activities. The Valtellina region in the north of Lombardy sits right in the middle of the Alps, and is one of the best hiking regions in Europe, with a host of fantastic trails. Lombardy is also home to Italy’s biggest national park, the Stelvio National Park, which is a haven for all kinds of wildlife. You can also go skiing, rock-climbing and canyoning, among many other mountain activities. There are more than 2500 kilometres of cycling routes across the region, whether you want the drama of the Alps or prefer the flatter trails in the south. And you’ll find a huge choice of water sports, from sailing and kayaking to wake boarding and kite-surfing on the Italian Lakes.
Lombardy is a land-locked region, but it still boasts plenty of beaches on the shores of the Italian Lakes where you can cool off on hot summer days. The largest and best-known are Lakes Garda, Maggiore and Como, but there are lots of smaller lakes to explore, too. The beaches are usually shingle or pebbles, but many have excellent facilities including parasols and sun beds, plus handy bars where you can grab a drink and something to eat. Some of the best include the Jamaica Beach (Spiaggia Giamaica) in Sirmione and Riva del Garda, both on Lake Garda, and the Riva Bianca beach in Lierna on Lake Como. There are also lots of private lidos, which charge a small admission fee, but come with swimming pools and lots of extra facilities.
Milan, capital of the Lombardy region, is one of the best nightlife destinations in Europe, with scores of glamorous bars and nightclubs. Whether you want to follow the fashion pack to the newest celeb-haunt or chill with the locals in a charming wine bar, you’ll find something for everyone in buzzing Milan. The Italian Lakes are all about soaking up the spectacular scenery and fairytale villages, and most of the resorts are laid-back and tranquil. There are one or two places with lively nightlife, though, including Desenzano on Lake Garda. The region’s most historic cities, which include Cremona, Mantua, Brescia and Bergamo, all boast plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained at night.
Lombardy is a dreamy destination for a romantic holiday, whether you want to soak up the glamour in fashion-conscious Milan, or laze by the shores of a shimmering lake. The enchanting and historic towns of Cremona, Mantua, Brescia and Bergamo are all medieval time-capsules, and their sinuous cobbled streets and inviting cafés and restaurants are perfect for romance. If you’re looking for laid-back luxury, there are scores of exquisite resorts around the Italian Lakes, long a summer retreat for aristocrats and celebrities. And, if you want a romantic city break that will linger long in the memory, then sizzling Milan, with its designer boutiques and slick style, is perfect.
Lombardy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in Italy, making it a dream destination for culture buffs. From the 12,000-year-old rock carvings in Capo di Ponte to the Renaissance jewel of Mantua, Lombardy boasts a wealth of cultural treasures. Milan, the regional capital, is home to the magnificent La Scala opera house and the 15th-century Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie contains Leonardo da Vinci’s celebrated painting The Last Supper. In Brescia, you can visit the monastery complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia, founded in the 8th century, and in lovely Cremona you’ll find a magnificent Romanesque cathedral and an excellent music museum, which attests to the town’s long history of instrument-making.