Milan is northern Italy's largest cultural metropolis, known around the world as a capital of design, fashion, and culture. Its location within Italy's Alpine region makes it a great jumping-off point for seeing some of northern Italy and Switzerland's most beautiful tourist regions, including renowned holiday resort area Lake Como and stunning Lake Maggiore, immortalized in Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell To Arms. UNESCO World Heritage Sites abound, including the country's Cinque Terre region, which preserves five historic coastal fishing villages. Many of Italy's biggest cities are also within convenient day trip distance, including cultural center Florence and the romantic waterways of Venice.
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Bergamo is a charming city in Italy's Lombardy region, located just an hour northeast of Milan's town center. The region, which is home to a population of more than 120,000, is known as one of Italy's most scenic regions, set against the backdrop of the nearby Alps. Its historic upper district, known as Città Alta, retains classic cobblestone streets and Venetian walls, home to grand architectural landmarks such as the Duomo di Bergamo, the Romanesque Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Cappella Colleoni, which features frescoes painted in the 18th century by Tiepolo. In the region's modern city center, Città Bassa, visitors can explore attractions like the GAMeC gallery of contemporary and modern art and the Accademia Carrara, which houses one of Italy's most important collections of paintings from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras.
Cinque Terre, known as Five Lands in English, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves five small villages along the scenic Italian Riviera coastline, which boast colorful houses, historic vineyards, and lively fishing boat harbors. The villages, which have developed over centuries, are located within Italy's lovely Liguria region, which is known for its seafood restaurants and specialty regional pesto sauce. Lovely village Riomaggiore is home to a preserved ancient stone castello, which dates back at least to the fifth century. Manarola is acclaimed for its cafes, gelato stores, and swimming lagoons, while Corniglia is lined with beautiful lemon trees and native fragrant flowers. Vernazza offers eclectic nightlife destinations, while Monterosso is home to some of the area's top modern overnight accommodations. The lovely Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links all five villages along a seaside vista.
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Florence is the capital city of Italy's lovely Tuscany region, known as a major regional center of art and culture for centuries. The city, which is preserved in its entirely on the UNESCO World Heritage List, served as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, attracting creative geniuses from around Europe to its museums, art galleries, and institutions of higher education. Today, visitors can explore historic sites such as the Uffizi Gallery, which is home to masterpieces like Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation. The city's Duomo cathedral showcases a gorgeous terracotta-tiled dome crafted by Brunelleschi, while its Galleria dell'Accademia preserves the world-renowned David by Michelangelo. Gorgeous hillside and skyline views are offered from the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Piazza del Duomo.
Franciacorta, which translates to "short France," is a lovely region within Lombardy's Province of Brescia, extending from the base of Mount Organo to the beautiful shores of Lake Iseo and between the banks of the River Oglio and the city of Brescia. The region is known for its gorgeous rolling hill landscape, enjoying a consistently mild climate due to its location near the foothills of the Alps. Its ideal winemaking climate has led to the development of many vineyards and wineries in recent years, which can be explored as part of the Strada del Vino Franciacorta wine route. Visitors can sample the region's famed sparkling wine of the same name, which has been awarded prestigious DOGC status. Medieval castles and monasteries abound, including the historic Carmagnola Castle, constructed under the government of Oldofredi in the 14th century.
Lake Como is one of Lombardy's top resort regions, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Alpine foothills. The resort lake, which is located within the Provinces of Como and Lecco, is located within the Italian Lake District and served as the visual inspiration for the region of Naboo in the Star Wars movie franchise. Three separate branches of the lake branch out from its center, converging near the lively resort town of Bellagio. Visitors can embark on boat or plane tourism trips from Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna, hike through the region's mountainous terrain, or enjoy opportunities for skiing and watersports at Piani di Bobbio. Prestigious golf clubs and luxurious beaches also populate the region, along with historic architecture at sites such as Torno's Strada Regia.
Lake Garda is a stunning crystal-clear lake near the town of Sirmione, located along the border of the plain of the Po river. It is a popular holiday resort destination in northern Italy, known for its gorgeous public beaches and nearby archaeological sites. Visitors to the lake's southern end can explore the former preserved Rocca Scaligera fortress, which offers stunning harbor views, or enjoy high thrills and roller coasters at the Gardaland theme park. An historic Roman villa is preserved at Grotte di Catullo, while the former home of Italian poet d'Annunzio is honored at Il Vittoriale degli Italiani. Luxurious resort Riva del Garda is located along the lake's northern shores. Visitors can rent peddle boats for exploration of the lake, take a cableway up to the top vistas of Monte Baldo, or sample wines at the Zeni Winery and Wine Museum.
Lake Maggiore, also known as Verbano, is Italy's second-largest lake, located along the southern edge of the Alps at the country's border with Switzerland. The lake, which was prominently featured in the Ernest Hemingway novel A Farewell To Arms, has inspired artists and writers for centuries due to its gorgeous surrounding mountain landscape. 11 islands are located within the lake, including the Borromean Islands archipelago, which is home to the beautiful Castles of Cannero rock formation and the remains of the Fortezza Vitaliana fortress. Nature lovers can visit the gorgeous Natural Park of the Ticino Valley, designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, or the region's stunning botanical gardens, including spacious VIlla Taranto. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound, ranging from golf courses to opportunities for boating, sailing, canoeing, and water sports on the lake's surface.
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Lake Orta is a gorgeous lake in northern Italy, located just west of majestic Lake Maggiore. The lake, which was known as Lago di San Giulio prior to the 16th century, is located just half an hour from Novara on its southern end, easily accessible from Milan via the main Turin-Milan railway line. The tranquil lake, which is separated from Lake Maggiore by Monte Mottarone, showcases splendid classic Italian scenery at the preserved Medieval-era village of Orta San Giulio. Visitors can explore the village's picturesque historic buildings or enjoy delicious traditional Italian cuisine at restaurants in the nearby towns of Omegna, Pettenasco, and Pella. Day trippers from Milan frequent the lake during the summer months, enjoying excellent opportunities for water sports on the lake's surface and sunbathing on its shores.
Lecco is a charming city on the southeastern shores of Lake Como, surrounded by the beautiful peaks of the Alps and known for its opportunities for mountain hiking. Visitors can choose from a number of surrounding mountain peaks for day hiking adventures, including majestic Monte Resegone, which offers trails for hikers of all ages and ability levels. A beautiful observation point at Piani d'Erna can be reached via the Cableway Lecco cable car, leading to hiking access points to nearby Piani di Bobbio. Historic remains abound, including the 5th-century settlement preserved at Monte Barro Regional Park. In town, visitors can explore landmarks such as the Basilica di San Nicolò, erected in the 8th century, and the Palazzo Belgiojoso, which houses the city's Museum of Natural History and Civic Planetarium.
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Parma is known around the world as a major culinary center in Italy, famed as the birthplace of Parmesan cheese and Parma ham. The city, which is located within Italy's beautiful Emilia-Romagna region, is home to the University of Parma, one of the world's oldest institutions of higher education. Visitors can explore gorgeous historic landmarks throughout the city, including the Parma Cathedral, known for its stunning frescoes, and the 11th-century Romanesque Baptistery, located in the city's center. The gorgeous Palazzo della Pilotta is home to the Galleria Nazionale, which showcases the works of acclaimed painters such as Canaletto and Correggio, and the Bodoni Museum. Other attractions include the Neoclassical-style Teatro Regio, which presents classical music and opera performances throughout the year.
Pavia is a lovely city in Lombardy, best known as the home of the University of Pavia, which dates back to the 12th century. The city, which is commonly referred to as the "City of the Hundred Towers," is home to stunning architectural landmarks like the Certosa di Pavia Renaissance-era monastery complex. Castello Visconteo, constructed in the mid-14th century, houses the City Museums of Pavia, while the University of Pavia campus is home to attractions such as the University History Museum. Roses and medicinal plants are showcased at the university's gorgeous botanical garden, which is a prime spot for romantic strolling. Nearby, the gorgeous Oltrepo' Pavese region is home to a number of wineries and vineyards offering tastings and tours.
St. Moritz is a luxurious Alpine resort city in Switzerland's beautiful Upper Engadin valley, located within the canton of Graubünden. The town, which is best known as the site of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, is home to the world's only natural skeleton downhill course at Cresta Run, which showcases major races during the winter months. An outdoor Olympic ice rink is also open to the public, hosting ice polo, cricket, and horse racing matches. Major skiing and snowboarding regions nearby include Corvatsch, Diavolezza, and Corviglia, which are situated at a height of nearly 2,000 meters. In town, visitors can explore attractions like the Berry Museum, dedicated to the works of artist and physician Peter Robert Berry, and the famed Heidi hut, which was used as a filming location for the motion picture of the same name. On average, the town receives 322 days of sunshine per year, making it an outdoor recreational paradise for windsurfers, hikers, and cross-country skiers.
Varese is a lovely northern Italian city that is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Sacro Monte di Varese devotional complex, located within Campo dei Fiori Regional Park. The charming hillside town, which is located close to the country's border with Switzerland, has been a major tourist center since the beginning of the 20th century, serving as a great jumping-off point for visitors looking to explore nearby Alpine regions such as Lake Maggiore and Como. The city's center is very pedestrian-friendly, with area public transport taking visitors to nearby historic sites such as the Saint George's Mount and Castelseprio-Tobra archaeological regions. Frescoed chapels are on display along the Via Sacra, while landscaped gardens are open to the public at the historic Estense Palazzo and Gardens. A plethora of cultural events are hosted in the city throughout the year, including the Festival dell'Utopia and the Varese Estense Festival.
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Venice is known around the world for its unique canal transportation system, constructed on the land mass of over 100 small islands within a lagoon on the Adriatic Sea. The romantic city, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety, was the birthplace of world-renowned composers such as Antonio Vivaldi during the Renaissance era and was once operated as its own independent republic. Today, it has become one of Europe's top tourist destinations, home to gorgeous internationally-renowned landmarks such as the Piazza San Marco, which showcases the stunning Byzantine-style St. Mark's Basilica. The Campanile di San Marco bell tower offers unparalleled panoramic views of the city center, open to the public for self-guided tours. Water taxis and buses traverse the city's waterways, along with romantic gondolas operated for scenic excursions.
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Verona is a lovely city in northern Italy, best known as the setting of Shakespeare's renowned play Romeo and Juliet. The Medieval-era city, which is located along the banks of the Adige River in Veneto, has no actual historical connection to Shakespeare's work, but many tourists still flock to sites such as Juliet's House, a preserved 14th-century residence with a balcony resembling the one depicted in the play's famed balcony scene. Large-scale operas and classical music concerts are presented at the Verona Arena, which dates back to the city's Roman Empire days in the first century. Preserved landmark churches and art museums abound, including the Churches of St. Zeno and Sant'Anastasia. Military fortifications from the 12th through 14th centuries are also preserved, connected to the former ruling Scaligeri family.
15 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Milan, Italy
- Bergamo, Photo: olga demchishina/stock.adobe.com
- Cinque Terre, Photo: marcociannarel/stock.adobe.com
- Florence, Photo: Dmitry Naumov/stock.adobe.com
- Franciacorta, Photo: alcatrax1981/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Como, Photo: swisshippo/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Garda, Photo: elens19/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Maggiore, Photo: elitravo/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Orta, Photo: Rostislav Glinsky/stock.adobe.com
- Lecco, Photo: EleSi/stock.adobe.com
- Parma, Photo: bbsferrari/stock.adobe.com
- Pavia, Photo: fotobeam.de/stock.adobe.com
- St. Moritz, Photo: bill_17/stock.adobe.com
- Varese, Photo: EleSi/stock.adobe.com
- Venice, Photo: Sergii Figurnyi/stock.adobe.com
- Verona, Photo: Vladimir Sazonov/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: fottoo/stock.adobe.com