To the south of Switzerland, the region of Lombardy impresses with its rolling hills and high summits dotted with lakes. From the Val Camonica to Valtellina you will come across the likes of Iseo and Franciacorta and the reputed Como. Outdoor activities are not amiss in this region of diverse landscapes which is perfect for winter sports or hiking. But culture is also on the menu, especially in terms of fashion where Milan has stamped its authority across the area. Bergamo, with its Venetian allure, Mantova, in the heart of the Po plains and Cremona, the home of the Stradivarius, all offer the distinct personality to those looking for the artistic side of Lombardy. If you enjoy a good museum then the Pinacoteca di Brera or the Accademia Carrara will hit the spot. But do not forget to sample Milanese gastronomy too which will certainly help make your stay in Italy a memorable one.
From the high mountain tops to the rolling hills of the Franciacorta region, from the most strenuous form of sport to a gentle stroll in the countryside, Lombardy offers an diverse range of landscapes, which are all the more enjoyable when accompanied with a nice glass of wine.
Lombard cuisine is very diverse: every province has dozens of traditional recipes as well as alternative versions of other classic Italian dishes. A very popular Lombard dish is the famous Milan-style risotto, in which the main ingredient after rice is saffron. Also, try the Mantovana-style tortellini stuffed with pumpkin, a historical speciality that is a veritable gourmet experience. The Valtelline valley, at the heart of the Alps and marking the border between Italy and Switzerland, is the richest region in terms of traditional Lombard cuisine. Here you will notably find Pizzoccheri della Valtellina. There are also various types of meat dishes native to the region, such as Milanesa and Cassoeula (a mix of pork meat, including sausage and rind, with a cabbage sauce all roasted in the oven). For dessert, try a slice of panettone, which orginally comes from Milan. A selection of high quality wines are also produced in the region, including one of the best Italian Asti, Franciacorta, which some say even measures up to French champagne.
The first thing to see in Milan is the magnificent Gothic cathedral, the third largest church in the world after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Seville Cathedral. Its extremely impressive architecture will undoubtedly leave you speechless. An elevator located at the back means that you can go up to the roof and have a closer look at the detailing on the countless statues sculpted on the pinnacle of each marble spire. Not far from the cathedral you will find the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the most beautiful galleries in Europe; it is supported by two arcades topped with an incredible glass and iron dome. Inside you will find a selection of world class shops and restaurants. Cross this gallery to arrive in front of the Scala, Milan's famous opera house. Another monument not to be missed is Castello Sforzesco at the end of Via Dante.