THE BEAUTIFUL CITIES IN LOMBARDY
The modernity of Lombardy moves around its regional capital, Milan, an eclectic international metropolis that with its dense calendar of events would be able to surprise anyone. Renowned fashion capital worldwide, Milan enjoys an intricate labyrinth of historical itineraries and a rich chest of artistic treasures: from the Duomo, one of the most spectacular Gothic cathedrals in Europe, to Leonardo Vinci’s Last Supper, preserved in the Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie.
Art seems to be the master in the cradle of Lombard culture: Mantua, Italian Capital of Culture 2016, is one of the main theaters of the Italian Renaissance. Here, a sumptuous heritage of monuments, churches, and museums is preserved, above all the Basilica of Sant’Andrea designed by Leon Battista Alberti and Palazzo Te – a leisure place for Federico II Gonzaga – with the majestic Giants’ room.
But it is Pavia which houses one of the most impressive monumental complexes in the region: the Certosa museum, which includes a monastery and a sanctuary. City of great mausoleums, Pavia is home to one of the oldest universities in Italy, founded in the fourteenth century by Emperor Charles IV. Culture can be breathed in every corner: it is no coincidence that famous personalities like Ugo Foscolo and Albert Einstein have passed through its streets.
As often happens in Italy, solemn witnesses of an unforgettable past are wrapped in a breathtaking natural setting: this is the case of Bergamo, an enchanting village steeped in history nestled on the hills, which could be the ideal next Hollywood blockbuster set. Also, Cremona maintains the original austere medieval style: the Torrazzo, the highest tower in Europe and the symbol of the city, is the gateway to a time travel, in search of the treasures of the fourteenth century.
FROM THE DYNAMIC CITIES TO THE RELAXING MOUNTAINS
A few kilometers from the liveliness of the inhabited centers, the Lombard mountain is the perfect destination for an excursion out of town in any season of the year. Both in winter to have fun on the snow and in summer to take a breath of fresh air from the Milanese heat, among meadows, woods, rocks, and peaks of various altitudes, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Valtellina, in the province of Sondrio, is famous throughout Italy for its long ski slopes and its scenic beauty (as well as for the excellent home cooking, but we will talk about it in the next paragraph!): Bormio can give strong emotions to all climbers, from beginners to experts. Immersed in the Stelvio Natural Park, it is also a top location for cyclists, with its breathtaking climbs and descents.
Livigno is also chosen by thousands of tourists who want to spend their holidays in Lombardy: its peculiar shape as a plateau between high mountains has earned it the nickname “Little Tibet”.
However, honorable mention goes to Valsassina, a corner of paradise less than an hour’s drive from Milan which thanks to its dominant position on Lake Como offers breathtaking views. Then, Bobbio, Artavaggio, and the Resegone are top destinations for a relaxing weekend in the green mountains of Lombardy.
And again, Val Camonica, Valchiavenna, Val Seriana are other splendid natural oases you can’t miss.
LOMBARDY’S LOCAL CUISINE
Such a rich territory can only present a great variety of culinary specialties. Lombard cuisine needs traditionally long cooking times: think of risotto – Milanese with saffron and Pitocca with chicken – and Sunday boiled meats served with mustard.
Of course, Lombards always have pasta on the table: from Casoncelli – stuffed with meat, parmesan, sultanas and amaretti – to pumpkin Tortelli, passing through the Valtellina Pizzoccheri, prepared with buckwheat flour and served with soft potatoes, cabbage, and local cheeses: the much-deserved prize after a long and tiring walk.
About main courses, you must taste stews to accompany with polenta, cold cuts – such as Salame Cremona DOP and Cotechino Vaniglia – and with cheeses – from Grana Padano to Provolone Valpadana.
And don’t forget desserts, like Polenta and Osei – a base of sponge cake, apricot jam, gianduia cream, and almond paste – nougat, prince of the Christmas banquets and the famous Sbrisolona, crumbly cake with crunchy crumbs!
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