Lombardy - Travel Guide and Tourism Information for Lombardy, Italy
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Provinces: Milano, Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, Sondrio
This region occupies the main part of the Po Valley. Its northern borders are formed by the Lepontine, Rhaetian and Orobic Alps. It includes a hilly district with the major Italian lakes: Lago Maggiore, Lakes of Varese, lseo, Como and the northern part of Lake Garda. Rich in water, thanks to the Po and its affluents.
The Duomo, which traditionally symbolizes the city of Milan, is the most extraordinary example of Italian late Gothic art. Its construction began in 1386, and continued for centuries. The Duomo is entirely covered with pinkish-white marble; In the façade - high-reliefs illustrating sacred and historical scenes . The roof of the Duomo can be reached by a steep external staircase, consisting of 919 steps.
The renowned Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the first buildings in Europe built in glass and iron, inaugurated in 1867, is called il salotto di Milano because it is the traditional meeting place of the Milanese; indeed it offers a wide range of cafés, restaurants such the historical restaurant Savini as well as fashion boutiques and the most important bookshops in the city.
La Scala Theatre - Its history, acoustics and the outstanding level of its performances have made it one of the best known temples of lyric and classical music in the world.
Palazzo Marino, facing La Scala Theatre, is considered the most beautiful private palace of Milan and a masterpiece of residential architecture of the sixteenth century. It now is the seat of the Municipality.
Castello Sforzesco - Built fo defensive reasons around 1368, the Castello lost its initial destination as a fortress to assume that of a kingly dwelling but only to resume its original role of efficient fortress in 1450 under Francesco Sforza, the new Lord of Milan. His successor, Ludovico il Moro, turned the Castello into one of the most sumptuous courts of Renaissance Italy and a point of attraction of the most talented artists of the time.
S.Maria delle Grazie - This church hosts the Cenacolo, the famous painting, commenced by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1495 and completed in 1497, and considered one of the most significant art creations worldwide. The painting shows Jesus announcing to his twelve Apostles that one of them was going to betray him. Da Vinci painted his masterpiece using strong tempera on a dry wall instead of a wet one. This is the reason why it begun to fade soon after its completion and the humidity of the environment contributed to its deterioration. A number of restoration interventions have brought the painting back to its original splendour.
S.Ambrogio - A fine example of the Romanesque-Lombard churches, it was founded between 379 and 386 by Sant’Ambrogio, patron Saint of Milan, as a basilica dedicated to Christian martyrs. In the interior of the Basilica, one of the most interesting works is represented by the famous Altare d’Oro, a masterpiece of Carolingian gold craftsmanship dating back to 836.
The scene of Verdi’s Rigoletto, this town was ruled for three centuries by the Gonzaga, one of Renaissance Italy's richest and most powerful families.
Mantua (Mantova) is the birthplace of a number of renowned Italians, ranging from Virgil (a statue of whom overlooks the square facing the Broletto, the Medieval town hall) to Tazio Nuvolari, one of Italy’s most famous racing drivers (a small museum pays tribute to his accomplishments). Its churches, Sant’Andrea (designed by Alberti and the burial place of Mantua’s famous court painter, Mantegna) and the Baroque Cathedral in the Piazza Sordello are both important works of architecture.
However, the most famous sites of Mantua are its two palaces: the Palazzo Ducale and the Palazzo del Te. The Palazzo Ducale, once the largest in Europe, was the home of the Gonzaga family, and has a number of impressive paintings by artists such as Rubens and Mantegna. The Palazzo del Te with its outstanding decorations was built as a Renaissance pleasure palace for Federico Gonzaga and his mistress, Isabella.
Bellagio - This enchanting town is cradled by cypress-spiked hills on the tip of the triangle separating Como's two "legs", with a promenade planted with oleanders and limes, fin-de-siècle hotels, and a hilly old centre of steep cobbled streets and alleyways it may be considered one of the most romantic places in Italy. A must are the gorgeous gardens of the Villa Serbelloni, splendidly sited on a hill above the town. Built on the site of one of Pliny the Younger's villas, it is now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation, and is perhaps the best place to appreciate Bellagio's genteel English air; this villa once was a favourite haunt of European monarchs. The sumptuously frescoed interior is closed to visitors, but there are guided tours around the gardens. Other Villas worth a visit are: Villa Carlotta, Villa Balbianello and Villa Melzi.
At the northwest tip of the lake, Riva del Garda is the best known of the lake's resorts, since the late nineteenth century. Garda is a lively, flourishing resort. Not long ago it was a fishing village, although now the narrow windy alleys and cottages of its old centre are studded with souvenir shops and snack bars. You may take a stroll to a seventeenth-century hermitage, the Eremo dei Camoldolesi. Gardone Riviera was once the most fashionable of Garda's resorts and still retains its symbols of sophistication, though the elegant promenade, lush gardens, opulent villas and ritzy hotels now have to compete with more recent and less tasteful tourist tack. It is famous for the consistency of its climate, and has Garda's most exotic botanical garden, the Giardino Botanico Hruska. The highlight of Gardone, or of the whole lake, is Il Vittoriale, the home of Italy's most notorious and extravagant twentieth-century writer, Gabriele D'Annunzio.
Visit the Isola Bella, one of the three islands which charms visitors with a magnificent Baroque palace and terraced gardens that slope to the lake. The Isola Madre is home to an exotic garden of plants, birds and flowers, and considered a botanical garden on water.
Just south of Milan, the town of Pavia is home to several interesting churches and the 14th-century Castello, housing an art gallery, archaeology museum and sculpture museum. The Certosa di Pavia, 10km outside of town, is a monastery famous for its lavish design. Originating as the family mausoleum of the Visconti family, it later became the dwelling of a Carthusian order of monks sworn to deep contemplation and silence. However it is possible to join guided tours.
At the foot of the Bergamese Alps, Bergamo is made up of two cities – the old and once Venetian-ruled Upper Bergamo (Bergamo Alta) and the modern Lower Bergamo (Bergamo Bassa). The old city is well appreciated for its ancient Venetian fortifications, palaces, towers and churches, including the 12th-century Palazzo della Ragione, the Torre del Comune, the Cathedral, the Colleoni Chapel and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The modern city’s main attraction is the Accademia Carrara, one of Italy’s largest art collections, with paintings by Canaletto, Botticelli, Mantegna, Carpaccio, Bellini and Lotto, amongst others. The two cities are connected by a funicular railway.
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