Rumours say that Milan does not know what Beauty is. It is said that the city gives value to nothing else but business, gain, pleasure and mundane success.
Pay no attention to this.
He, who says it, is part of the category of lazy, superficial, often ungrateful persons.
They are the ones who play dead afloat laying passively on the surface and do not rush too much to seek the meaning of reality beyond the borders of their own pockets or optical horizon.
It is too easy to realize how many wonders there are in Venice, Florence, Rome .... here Beauty is noisy, sparkling, mammoth, almost superhuman; it creates screeching and sizzle when in touch with the (poor) humanity depicted in "The Great Beauty" by Paolo Sorrentino.
The Beauty of Milan is different: it is discrete, concealed, hidden.
Once it was necessary to bring it to light raising a thick blanket of fog, among the lighting of old lamps, massive worm-eaten doors and bars at the windows, wet cobblestones, cloaks and felt made hats moving in an Impressionist motion on heavy black bicycles, “ghisa” (traditional Milan’s cops) like crows hanging on the stage of roundabouts, sounding handrails and silent courtyards.
Today (and the guilty are the hole in ozone belt, neon and Internet ...) some special symbols are take-away shape: Duomo and its Piazza, Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, Teatro alla Scala, Romanesque churches, Liberty style Palaces, bold design, life in the Brera and on Navigli, the plastic and kaleidoscopic cauldron of fashion.
Others symbols are more expensive and they need to be hardly discovered: the Monumental Cemetery with the statues and the memorial chapel, the palaces of Via Borgonuovo, Castiglioni Palace and Villa Necchi, Manzoni House and the House of Omenoni, the Churches of San Fedele, St. Maurice and St. Angelo.
Other signs of Beauty are linked by the thin but incorruptible thread of history, as the Columns of San Lorenzo, the areas recovered after the glories of the industrial revolutions, or the recycling of building materials used today to shape the new.
Other signs are still projected like cannonballs into the future: we must resign ourselves…. "There, where once there was the grass, now there is a city” as an old Italian song tells. Ergo, or overbuilding is felt like a static regret, choking without counterpart or frustrated desire. Or it is admitted that the "trees of 30 floors" (e.g. in the Garibaldi Railstation area) are also, and not only, contributions to the movement, to prospect, to the mess of a landscape that in order to become eternal, should never be reflected, as immutable, in itself.
Milan is the only Italian city that can anchor itself to the past, taking momentum towards the extreme futuristic future, the architectural hyperspace, the fourth dimension of civil society. Isn’t it a Beauty too?
In Lombardy and its boundaries are concentrated some of the most beautiful Italian lakes, famous for nature, landscape, relaxation and life-style...
Each of the 4 major lakes offers many sightseeing opportunities, sports and entertainment venues.
Lake Garda (Benaco) is the largest in Italy: its landscapes have captivated and inspired by Catullus, Dante, Goethe, Stendhal and Byron. Picturesque towns have sprung up along its shores: as Sirmione, with its Scaliger Castle and the Grotte di Catullo, or as Gardone Riviera, in its Liberty atmosphere. Picturesque is Malcesine too, on the eastern shore, from which you can ascend to Mount Baldo and enjoy a spectacular view. Farther south lies the amusement park Gardaland, Italy's biggest one. Quiet villages, crowded centres, beaches for families, California-style amusement parks, natural parks, beneficial spas.
Lake Maggiore, the second largest, offers spectacular scenery and mild climate, fortresses and prestigious villas: it is a tourist destination since the days of the Grand Tour. The more popular resort area is Stresa, appreciated not only by the narrow streets and typical houses, but also by its proximity to the Borromean Islands: real jewels due to presence of historic homes, villages and gardens, loved by Hemingway and formed by Isola Bella (with the Borromeo Palace and gardens), the picturesque Isola dei Pescatori, the Mother Island , St. John small island in front of Pallanza and the rock of Marghera. Other famous places are Arona, Cannobio, Luino, Angera.
Lake Como Rich and famous people have always chosen to spend their relaxing summers at their villas on Como - from the Romans, such as Pliny the Elder, to today's celebrities, including George Clooney and Brad Pitt. And certainly it’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe, with the Y-shaped lake surrounded by thick wooded slopes, small villages and beautiful gardens of larger villas. Tiny towns such as Bellagio and Varenna are small and crowded, but still breathtaking. Restaurants and bars nestle in medieval buildings with beautifully distracting views of water and mountains. The city of Como itself is worth a day trip too, because there are great shops, restaurants and monuments within its ancient walls.
The Lake Iseo is shared between the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia and is distinguished by Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe. The lake is a paradise for lovers of water sports, paragliding, trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing and golf.
Mantua is a little gem, as it is rich in art, historical, cultural treasures.
Opportunities to visit are countless and important (the Ducal Palace and the Te, the Duomo and Sant'Andrea, charming squares in the city centre, green spaces on lakeside or Piazza Pallone), but let's not forget the possibility of a top level food and wine tour.
Sumptuous is the residence of the Gonzaga’s: the Doge's Palace with its famous Camera degli Sposi frescoed by Mantegna's. The set consists of 500 rooms and covers an area of about 34,000 square meters.
It was built between the beginning of the fourteenth century and the mid-seventeenth century, a period in which power of the Gonzaga family decreased. Symptomatic of the culture of the times is Bibbiena Theatre, where Mozart held his first audition while travelling in Italy.
Do not miss the Palazzo Te, suburban villa created by the genius of Giulio Romano in the fifteenth century for first duke of the city. Quadrangular shaped, it was built on an island which was separated from the city by a wide moat, so as to allow, in those days, regattas and parties on the water. He was surrounded by gardens, fountains, statues, buildings and tree-lined avenues, a small town on the island of Te.
Close to Mantua, Sabbioneta is a truly important center due to its artistic interest. Authentic "ideal city" of the sixteenth century, designed and built by his patron Prince-Vespasiano Gonzaga (1531-1591) on the model of ancient Roman cities, Sabbioneta offers tourists several authentic architectural gems: the two monumental doors (Imperial Gate and Victory Gate), the Gallery of the Ancients and the adjoining Palace Garden, the Doge's Palace, the Ancient Theatre and the Churches of the Incoronata (which houses the tomb of Vespasiano), and the parish church of the Carmine.
About twenty miles south of the capital is San Benedetto Po, a small town famous for its magnificent complex of Polirone, one of the most important Benedictine testimonies in Northern Italy.
Inside the monastery, worthy of note are: the Abbey (in which is evident the work done by Giulio Romano), the Refectory (with a fresco by Correggio), the late Gothic cloister of St. Simeon, the fifteenth century Chapter Room. Considered as the capital of High Mantua territory, Castiglione delle Stiviere is famous not only for its churches and monuments, but also for its "aloisian places". In the Basilica of St. Louis, find the relics of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) while at the College of the Virgins (600) is housed the Aloisianus Museum. Great historical importance has the Museum of the Red Cross, whose idea was born in Castiglione in 1859 thanks to the Swiss Henry Dunant.
In the Dark Ages, Milan assumed a position of absolute prestige. Among the many reasons, the centrality of its location.
Halfway between Rome and each neuralgic area in Europe (Germany, France, North of Spain). Acknowledged this prerogative, the monastic orders found accommodation in the immediate Milan’s vicinity, especially in the plains east and south of the city, where the work of the fields would give greater assurance of sustenance. This, despite the need to reclaim that land, then marshy and malarial. From Milan, the wealthiest families could remain in touch with the various abbeys and, above all, bestow what is necessary to the growth of the monasteries. Abbeys around Milan proved to be places of faith and prayer, but also architectural and artistic masterpieces and centres of monastic communities, with an important role in agricultural development of Milan.
Morimondo Abbey was founded by the monks of St. Bernolfo who arrived in the plain of Milan in 1134. Its heyday was between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the assets of the monks reached the 32,000 acres of cultivation and 9,000 of woods. Very interesting is the tour of the Abbey Church of St. Mary, built in 1182. Besides the beautiful facade, with its wide portal, the rose, the mullioned windows and the arches, should be seen impressive interior with three naves. Note the font of the '300, the Madonna and Child, fresco by Luini of 1515 and the choir, which consists of 70 stalls divided into two orders.
Chiaravalle Abbey rises in isolated rural setting, although already included on the southern outskirts of Milan. With its original bell tower sloping loggias, is one of the connotation of the landscape around the city. It was built in the French Gothic style (XII-XIII c.), The interior is partially painted and contains a beautiful carved choir.
Viboldone Abbey dates back to XIII century and it is the largest of the churches in Milan owned by the Humiliated. It dates back XIII century and is the largest Humiliated church in Milan area. Dated back to fourteenth century, however, are the Gothic bell tower and the extraordinary frescoes of Giotto's followers: they deserve their own a visit.
Mirasole Abbey buildings hardly give the idea of a true religious building. Mirasole, established as Viboldone in the thirteenth century, and also by the order of the Humiliated, looks like a real traditional farm. The Abbey is also surrounded by a moat and access was secured by a drawbridge. The religious dimension is reduced in the presence of a church and a cloister.
Rolling hills with regular profile, rows of vines finding their rest on the shores of Lake Iseo.
Warm colors even in harsh winter: Franciacorta is the smile of Lombardy, from immemorial time. Since Charlemagne called it Little France, so inspiring its its present name (Francia-Corta).
Pay attention to two of its most precious treasures: wine and, for this same reason, hospitality.
Each winery here tells the story of the families and of their tenacious insistence with which they have "forced" the land to give birth. And the production of Franciacorta wine with denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin (DOCG), is now famous all over the world. And it is right to dedicate at least one day.
From the outside Brescia to Lake Iseo, wine routes, wine cellars, vineyards, medieval villages and aristocratic mansions, abbeys and monasteries, the Monastery of St Peter in Lamosa, the nature reserve of Torbiere del Sebino, the Convent of the Annunciation, the Abbey in Rodengo Saiano, the Averoldi Maglio in Ome.
Also needed is a tribute to local dishes with the flavours of lake fish and those of the campaign, including cheese and extra virgin olive oil.
Monza and Brianza
Monza was the Lombard capital, known for the symbolic Iron Crown held in the Duomo.
At Monza there is one of the largest parks in Italy, which contains the national racing circuit and the gardens of Villa Reale. Monza is one of the main locations in the Brianza, a geographical, economic and cultural area among the richest in Lombardy.
The Lombard queen Theodolinda made Monza the political, cultural and religious centre of her kingdom and it was the site of the coronation of Emperor Berengar I, the first king who wore the Iron Crown (tradition kept until Frederick Barbarossa, Charles V, Napoleon, Ferdinand I of Austria).
The city center is marked by the Cathedral, richly frescoed. And its remarkable cycle of Zavattari, dating back to ‘400, placed in the chapel of Theodolinda. Great impact also has the fresco of Arcimboldo, located in the south transept. Great appeal exerts the Iron Crown, but also the visit of the entire Museum and Treasury, with works from Lombard age to twentieth century. The old town offers a discovery of Roman and medieval buildings: the Arena bridge, the via Lambro tower, Arengario, the Dominican convent of St. Peter Martyr, Santa Maria in Strada, the Hospital of St. Gerard.
The creation of the Park of Monza was decided by Napoleon for the entertainment of citizens. Within the Park, there are the famous Monza racetrack, a golf club and Villa Reale.
The Royal Villa was built in sec. XVIII (1777-1780) by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, governor of Lombardy. The interior is characterized by environments and silk tapestries on the walls, marble and inlaid wood floors.
The gardens show the classic English setting with pond, temple, library and the Rotonda, the hemispherical hall with representation of Cupid and Psyche (frescoes by Andrea Appiani).
The northern part of the park is occupied Autodromo Nazionale, built in 1922. Legendary Theatre of racing events, the racetrack has been continuously improved especially from the security side. The first Sunday of September the Italian Grand Prix Formula 1 takes place here.
Between Italy and Switzerland, it runs Valtellina, in the heart of the Alps. An highly diverse territory, starting off from the top edge of Lake Como to get up to the Bernina.
Orchards and fodder in the valley, vineyards and forest as you climb to the 'plateau, then alpine and high-altitude meadows to the peaks from the glaciers. Spas and ski resorts are now a classic winter stays in Valtellina and many are valid and the facilities that offer ski weeks + spa activities and relaxation. The problem is that we eat very, very well. Tourist offer of prestige that includes popular locations such as Livigno, Bormio, S. Caterina, Madesimo, Aprica and still Teglio, and Valdidentro Bormio, Valmalenco, Valmasino and Valgerola just to name a few.
In relevant artistic and natural heritage of this valley, they stand the rock carvings on stone.
Narration of the history of Camuni, residents in this area 8,000 years before Christ. The concerned sites are included in Regional or National parks list and recognized by UNESCO as cultural heritage of all humanity: the first site in Italy for rock art.