What to see around Milan: cities, towns and lakes that you won’t want to miss
If you have already seen the Cathedral or Duomo di Milano, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Teatro alla Scala and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, at Santa Maria delle Grazie, this guide will give you lots more ideas. You still haven’t explored the area around Milan and the Lombardy region.
Not far from Milan are some very interesting towns and cities, and idyllic lakes offering fabulous scenery. The lakes of northern Italy are an unmatched marvel set in the midst of nature. And many towns and villages near Milan still retain their medieval charm in their palaces and other buildings. So get ready, because there’s a lot to see in Milan and the surrounding area. Moreover, sightseeing in Lombardy offers guaranteed enjoyment, as the region offers so may attractions for visitors.
Towns and cities near Milan
Less than 50 kilometres from Milan is the attractive medieval city of Bergamo. The oldest and highest part of the city, the historic quarter, boasts fabulous attractions such as the Piazza Vecchia and the Piazza del Duomo, the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Torre Civica, and the Raggione palace. It is an utter pleasure to stroll along the old, narrow streets or to sit at one of the many terraces to gaze at the surroundings.
A little further away, around 90 kilometres from Milan, lies Brescia (internal link), a city set amid a fantastic landscape with vestiges of the Celtic, Roman, medieval and Renaissance periods. Among all these, one outstanding attraction is the San Salvatore-Santa Giulia Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brescia, Lombardy’s seat of power
Brescia is one of Italy’s richest cities, and was one of Lombardy’s first great seats of power in the sixth century. And while it is not really a tourist destination, it does offer some fascinating places to visit. In fact, there is a great deal to see in Brescia, including the city’s oldest public space, the Piazza del Foro. In addition, don’t forget to visit the Piazza della Loggia, the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral, as well as Brescia Castle.
The cultural town of Pavia
On the banks of the river Ticino, and only 20 kilometres from Milan, lies Pavia (internal link), a historic and cultural city with interesting places to visit, including the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, which stands in Piazza Dante and which houses the tomb of St. Augustine. There is also the Visconteo castle, the Piazza della Vittoria, the Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, the Comunal Palace, the Cathedral, and the Basilica of San Michele Maggiore where emperors were once crowned. The university, one of Italy’s oldest and most prestigious, is also well worth a visit.
Monza — much more than Formula 1
There is much more to Monza than Formula 1, although the Circuit of Monza (internal link) is one of the city’s claims to fame, given that it hosts the Italian Grand Prix. The city, however, is not just a shrine for lovers of high-speed motor racing: it also has fascinating sights and spaces to enjoy. One of these is the Ponte dei Leoni which spans the river Lambro, and is an essential because of its romantic setting. The city also boasts a splendid Gothic cathedral with a green-and-white façade and magnificent stained glass windows, in addition to a neo-classical palace, the Villa Real, which dates from the time of the Habsburg Empire, and is set among beautiful gardens. Monza is only 10 km from Milan.
The stately city of Varese
About 60 kilometres from Milan lies Varese, a city with an abundance of beautiful, stately buildings in the city’s nerve centre, Corso Matteotti. If you go on an excursion to Varese, make sure to visit the Sacro Monte di Varese, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Basilica di San Vittore with its bell tower and baptistry, the Battistero di San Giovanni. Varese is also a city with lots of green areas and flowers, as well as attractive villas dating from the eighteenth century, including the Villa Ponti and the Estense palace.
The lakes of northern Milan
Lake Como has become ever more popular, as one of its most famous visitors, George Clooney, owns a villa there. But this lake really doesn’t need sponsors to convince anyone of its great beauty. It is one of Europe’s deepest lakes, and on its shores lie exquisite and charming towns such as Brienno, Tremezzo, Menaggio, Varenna, and Bellagio. The lake is set amid glorious natural scenery, and the landscape and spectacular valleys surrounding it make it truly unique.
This lake on the Swiss-Italian border is surrounded by enchanting small towns and villages such as Arona, with a rich cultural and historical heritage; castles such as Anguera, which once belonged to the Rocca Borromeo family; and idyllic islands with wonderful scenery, including Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Bells. A place of unsurpassed beauty which you really should visit.
One hundred and forty kilometres from Milan lies the iconic Lake Garda (internal link), one of Italy’s largest and most famous lakes. Its deep blue colour, a result of its glacial origin, blends with the bright green of its natural setting. This is a perfect place to relax, breathe deeply and enjoy nature in its purest state. Its shores are graced by pretty towns such as Sirmione, where you can visit the thermal baths, and islands such as the Isola de Garda, the largest of the lake’s six islands, which has lovely gardens and historic sites dating from Roman times.