The most colorful cities and villages around Milan
Milan is undoubtedly good, but the soulfulness is not as much as in small Italian towns. To get to know the real Italy, the one that is permeated with sunshine and smells like tomatoes and basil, we advise to explore the outskirts of Milan.
If you plan to visit 2 or 3 cities, take an intercity bus or train.
For a long trip through Lombardy it is more convenient to rent a car.
In Pavia, the historical center near the famous Covered Bridge is interesting, as well as the monasteries of the university. Relax in the beautiful garden Oasis Sant’Alessio which is only 6 km from the city, between the basilicas of Sant’Alessio and Santa Sabina.
From Milan to Pavia is only 40 minutes away. It is convenient to go there in one day, for example, as part of a tour with lunch and wine tasting.
If you plan to stay here for one night or more, we recommend this lodging search service.
After Pavia, go to the medieval village of Vigevano, only 40 km from Milan. This little town is worth spending a few days in it. Find accommodation in Vigevano at this link.
In Vigevano, the Piazza Ducale and the Castello Sforzesco are worth seeing. The castle is a complex of buildings built in the highest point of the city.
It still has underground roads. They are divided into two large sections, both located near Piazza Ducale. By the way, the square hosts exhibitions and events all year round.
The city is famous for the international shoe museum in the castle Sforzesco Vigevano. Right at the entrance you will see a multimedia room entirely dedicated to the Duchess Beatrice d’Este. You can visit the museum for free.
To see more sights and keep your feet on the ground, book a 3-hour segway tour of Vigevano.
The town is less than an hour from Milan, and is considered one of the most romantic in the world. It is rich in luxurious villas and large landscaped gardens, beautiful old houses, interesting streets and alleys that end in the historic center.
If you want to stay in Como for a couple of days, pick up accommodations here.
From April to November, take a boat ride to the commune of Bellagio, it is on the central promontory of Lake Como. Visit Villa Serbelloni, a splendid 16th-century residence surrounded by the vast Brunate Park.
To get to Brunate, take the 716 meter high funicular railway.
If you get lost, signposts such as the lighthouse, the Voltiano huts and the church of St. Maurice will help you get your bearings.
In the evening, an aperitif tour with dessert will help you relax.
Monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso on Lake Maggiore
We suggest visiting the ancient monastery complex, built in 1170.
The merchant Alberto Besozzi avoided shipwreck on the lake by praying to St. Catherine. She appeared and saved him, after which Besozzi vowed to devote his life to penance, settling in one of the caves. A little later the locals built a church and a small monastery on the rocks.
The monastery consists of three stone buildings. The southern one is open to the public and has the oldest refectory. There is also a store where you can buy handicrafts from the monks. In the monastery itself live Benedictine monks.
The church is the largest part of the complex, with frescoes completely covering the walls. To linger in these parts, book an apartment at this link.
A visit to Santa Caterina del Sasso takes about an hour and admission to the monastery is free. You can reach the upper observation deck and tourist center on foot (about 280 steps), or by elevator (1 euro). There is also a parking lot and a cafe at the top.
Crespi d’Adda village
In the direction of the Milan-Bergamo freeway, we suggest visiting the factory village of Crespi d’Adda. The settlement was built in the late 1800s for the workers of the textile factory Crespi. For those times, the concern for the well-being of the factory workers was truly avant-garde.
Walk between the residential houses and the larger executive homes. The township has everything you need – government offices, schools, hospitals, theaters and churches.
Bergamo is a large city with an airport and a magnificent historic center. Here you can spend an interesting few days waiting for your next flight. Even if you only have a couple of hours, there’s plenty to see in the city.
The city is divided into two parts, Bergamo Alta and Bergamo Bassa. The best place to start is at the top in Bergamo Alta, which you will get to by cable car.
Bergamo Bassa is an old neighborhood, well restored and modernized. The best way to get a feel for the place is to walk through the Sentierone shopping arcade. It is an ideal place for shopping and entertainment, and at the same time an example of art and history.
Do not miss the beautiful Dante Square, decorated with the “Fountain of Triton” and the “Fountain of Fairs”.
If you love art, be sure to visit the majestic Church of St. Bartholomew and St. Stephen. It is home to a painting of the “Altarpiece of Martenengo” painted by Lorenzo Lotto in the 16th century.
Monza and its province can offer its visitors the right balance between leisure and culture, between relaxation and sport.
Find the ideal apartment to stay here for a few days, because the program will be extensive.
Start from the historic center: visit the Duomo with its museum, where the treasures of pearls and precious stones are preserved.
Strolling through streets with elegant stores, you will reach the Reggia di Monza complex, consisting of Villas Reale, Gardens and Park. The Villa Reale has several temporary and permanent exhibitions. They are located on the top floor with a magnificent view of the park.
We recommend a visit to the Monza National Autodromo. This is one of the oldest race tracks in the world. Here you can also visit the Speed Museum: it contains information about the most famous cars, drivers and competitions.
The top events on the museum’s calendar, apart from the famous Formula 1 Grand Prix, are the Monza Rally Show in December and the Special Rally Circuit in November.
Valentine’s Day: the 10 most romantic places in Milan
One of the most charming and truly magical districts of Milan – Brera – got its name from the Lombard word “Braida”, which has absolutely nothing to do with romance (in Russian “Braida” means uncultivated land, the farmland). The area is known among lovers as one of the most romantic spots in Milan. Brera is the artists’ quarter; here you’ll find the famous Accademia and the Pinacoteca (art gallery) which houses some of the most important masterpieces of Italian art, including one of the most romantic canvases in the world, Aiez’s “The Kiss”. And when evening descends on Milan, couples in love stroll the alleys of Brera to end the evening for two in one of the neighborhood’s fine bars or restaurants.
The Pinacoteca Brera. Photo by Thinkstock
2) Panorama from the terraces of Milan’s Cathedral
Milan’s Duomo is an immutable and majestic symbol of the city. Have you never tried to see the panorama of Milan from the terraces of the cathedral? Then take your significant other and go to the roof of the Duomo for a breathtaking view of the whole Milan, preferably at sunset, when the rooftops of the business city take on a romantic, golden hue.
Milan’s panorama from the Duomo’s terraces. Photo by Thinkstock
3) Panorama of the city from the observation deck of the Branca Tower
Don’t you know what we mean? The Torre Branca Tower is a steel structure located in the Sempione Park in Milan. With a height of almost 109 meters, the tower is the tenth tallest building in Milan. Torre Branca was designed by architects Cesare Chiody and Gio Ponti and was built in 1933 in just 68 working days! A modern elevator operating inside the tower allows you to ascend in less than a minute to a point where you have a mind-boggling view of the city. On clear days, from the platform at the top of the tower you can see the whole panorama of Milan and the Lombardy plains, with the Alps and Apennines in the distance.
The panorama of Milan from Torre Branca. Photo by Thinkstock
4) The charm of the canals of the Navigli
The Navigli are Milan’s five canals-Bereguardo, Grande, Martesana, Paderno and Pavese-along with the five oldest canals in Europe. Built as early as the twelfth century, these canals connected Milan to Lake Maggiore (via the Ticino River), Lake Como (via the Adda River), the city of Pavia and the Po River. They were important waterways for transporting goods and irrigating fields. Valentine’s Day can be the perfect opportunity to discover a milestone in the city’s history . And enjoy the romantic atmosphere of Naviglia!
Navigli. Thinkstock photo
5) Gae Aulenti Square
If you have never been to this square, we advise you to definitely visit here. GaeAulenti Square is an elevated circular square with a diameter of 100 meters. Located 6 meters above street level, the square was designed by the Argentine architect César Pelli and opened in 2012. Gae Aulenti Square is the quintessence of modern architecture and a magnetic atmosphere. After a virtual walk on the rooftops of Milan’s skyscrapers (while in the square you can admire the most famous of them), the perfect end to the day is a romantic dinner in the Corso Como area.
Porta Garibaldi. Piazza Gae Aulenti. Thinkstock photo.
6) A walk through the Loggia dei mercanti
The Merchants’ Loggia is a short walk from the Milan Cathedral, in Piazza dei Mercanti, one of the oldest in Milan. One of the most interesting characteristics of the loggia is its structure, which forms a wonderful acoustics: the perfect opportunity for a declaration of love:)
Merchants Loggia. Photo by Thinkstock
7) Romantic dinner in the salon. streetcar.
A romantic dinner in the streetcar saloon is a proposal from Milan’s ATM. The dinner starts in the city center, a few meters from the Sforza Castle. Streetcars ATMosfera 1 and 2 are two historic 1928 Milan streetcars, fully restored and transformed into banqueting rooms with retro furnishings. Super-romantic!
Dinner in a streetcar. Thinkstock photo.
Walking the Mermaid Bridge
The Mermaid Bridge – ponte delle Sirenette – is located within Sempione Park; this place has a long and interesting history. It is the first metal bridge in Italy, which was built in honor of the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I and opened in 1842 by Archduke Ranieri. The four sensual sirens adorning the bridge were appreciated by Milanese in their own right and became characters in many urban legends. “Le sorelle Ghisini, as the mermaids were affectionately nicknamed by locals, became a meeting place for couples in love and romantic “antics”. In 1930, the mermaid bridge was shortened and moved from the Navigli area to Parco Sempione. In recent years, the bridge became the center of a “keyhole” fashion inspired by the movie Three Meters Above Heaven.
The Mermaid Bridge in Milan. Thinkstock photo
9) Among the stars at the planetarium.
What could be more romantic than watching the fascination of constellations and stars. The perfect place for a romantic journey through the stars is the Planetarium, located on Corso Venezia.
Milan Planetarium. Thinkstock photo
10) On two wheels through Martesana and Parco Villa Finzi
This beautiful bicycle route starts in downtown Milan, runs along the banks of the Navigli, which is over 500 years old, and reaches Cassano d’Adda. Do not miss a stop at Villa Finzi Park in the Gorla quarter, a splendid “English Garden” surrounded by alleys, hedges and woods, with a small pond formed by the Aqualunga fountain, against the background of two small temples with romantic names, Tempio della Notte and Tempio dell’Innocenza.