This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend an entire week traveling around the Lombardy region of Italy. Half of my time was focused in Milan. The other portion dedicated to visiting scenic rural places such as Chiavenna and Bergamo.
In Milan, I was surprised by the diversity of activities on offer – aside from just shopping. Including sampling cuisine unique to the city. Also, wandering around streets covered with tasteful street art. And finally experiencing fine dining and drinking in the evening.
Even more fascinating to me was how easy it was to escape the city and be fully immersed in the countryside. Merely, an hour or two by train allowed us to be straddling the border with Switzerland. Nearby the Italian Alps. Or marveling at the magnificent Lake Como.
The following is a travel and food guide of 10 unique things you can experience while visiting Lombardia.
10 Things to do in Lombardy
Street Art in Milan
It seemed as though every time we went for a walk in Milan we encountered colourful graffiti. Unlike other cities, where graffiti is often a symbol of decay and squalor, the street art in Milan was highly sophisticated and tasteful.
In particular, I recommend wandering around the neighborhoods of Leoncavallo, Isola, and Porta Ticinese. Moreover, you’ll encounter the best street art the city has to offer.
Il Duomo Terrace
The Duomo, easily the most famous landmark in all of Milan, is a Gothic Cathedral currently listed as the 5th largest church in the world. Covered in marble, it is a marvel to witness by day and by night.
However, what many people don’t realize is that you can get some of the best views in all of Milan from high atop its terrace. From here you’ll enjoy incredible panoramic vistas. Also, you get a birds-eye view of people wandering about in the square below.
Risotto alla Milanese
We didn’t have a bad meal while in Milan (or Lombardia for that matter). But for a dish unique to the city be sure to try Risotto alla Milanese. This dish consists of a starchy rice that has a unique ability to absorb liquids such as cheese and butter.
With nothing but saffron, cheese and butter, the simplicity of this dish is what makes it a winner. Therefore, it is meant to be had as a primo (first course). But it is filling enough to be a meal in and of itself.
BONUS: Breakfast in Milan is a sweet delight with a coffee!
Milan is home to pulsating nightlife. The best way to get started is with an aperitivo. Unlike other Italian cities, where the apertivo is merely cocktails and few random bites, Milan offers generous buffet spreads.
It includes pizza, pastas, deli meats, desserts and more. Also, you’ll find a wide selection of beverages to tickle your fancy.
We found ourselves satisfied and full after having an apertivo for the first time in the Navigli District. This particular area is known for nightlife.
It features some of the best restaurants. Come with 10-15 Euros in your pocket and be prepared to walk out feeling stuffed. Our favorite place was the Manhattan along the Navigli canal. Highly recommended!
A canal cruise ride down Milan’s Navigli District is an absolute must. The rides are typically an hour.
You pass by restaurants, cafes, bars and churches lined with colorful street art. Furthermore, it is a relaxing way to slowly take in the neighborhood. Do this while you plot where you’d like to cover on foot.
Polenta e Osei
How does polenta with bird sound to you? Don’t be fooled by the poorly translated English name (Polenta e Osei).
Because this dessert that is unique to Bergamo. It will satisfy even the most discerning of sweet tooth critics. This cake, with a chocolate bird placed on top, is something you’ll want to share with a friend considering how decadent it is.
Often taking transportation is just getting from A to B for most travelers. However, taking the train in the Lombardy region is a truly immersive travel experience.
You’ll pass through cities, scenic lakes and mountains and small villages.
I found myself wanting to put away my kindle and pay attention to what was going on outside of the window. My favorite route was from Milan to Chiavenna.
This is where we had a chance to marvel at Lake Como.
Cooking course in Cavernago
If you’re anything like us, you’re rather skilled at devouring tasty Italian dishes. However, if you actually want to learn how to make them from scratch, consider taking a cooking course. While in Cavernago, we had an opportunity to visit Malpaga Castle. This is where we dressed up like royalty and learned how to make pumpkin ravioli and beef tartare along with tiramisu for dessert.
Although I’m usually all-thumbs in the kitchen. However, this cooking course with Foodlab 3.0 gave me the confidence to potentially try some of these dishes back home for family and friends.
Vertemate Franchi Castle in Prosto di Piuro
It is not everyday that you have the opportunity to visit a castle. While in Prosto di Piuro, just outside of Chiavenna, we had the opportunity to tour the Vertemate Franchi Palace.
It was built during the 16th century by brothers Franchi. Wandering inside gives you a sample of their aristocratic lifestyle. This separates them from mere commoners.
Bresaola Meat Festival in Chiavenna
I’ve been to a lot of festivals over the years. But never one centered exclusively around meat!
Every year in Chiavenna, the town celebrates its love for Bresaola.
Say, what? Bresaola. It closely resembles prosciutto. An air-dried meat that has been specially cured and aged for several months. Before taking on its dark red color.
I can honestly say we made it to all 14 stands as part of Dì de la Brisaola. This is where we sampled various kinds of this specialty meat.
It kind of ruined our plans for lunch but neither of us was complaining. The town itself really comes alive with marching bands. And the atmosphere is what really makes the event special in my opinion.
Our first introduction to travel in Italy, through the Lombardy region, left us craving more. We’re hopeful that we’ll be traveling more throughout the region. And also covering more of Italy in future months.
What are some of your favorite travel experiences? And foods you’ve sampled specifically in Lombardy and/or in all of Italy? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Wonderful articles and amazing photographs. Keep sharing your awesomeness.
your work is absolutely beautiful
Saffron, cheese and butter…..mercy sakes, that sounds outstanding! I might need to take my stretchy pants to my next visit to the Milan area! I’ve visited before but only Milan and now pine away for visiting the surrounding area.
We’ve taken the kids to Italy and had a wonderful trip to Rome, Bologna and the surrounding areas like Ravenna, and Amalfi coast. Everyone wants to go back….there is so much of Italy that looks marvelous – the people warm, the food outstanding, the history, the art. Wonderful! When I travel with the kids I write information for them so they can understand more about what they are seeing. It can be overload otherwise!
We have to go back to Milan, now! I want to see the duomo without all the scaffolding, too! Street art seems to becoming more and more available, too, and I just love the medium. It is so fresh!
After doing long and far travels I have to settle down a bit more now but I don’t want to stop traveling.
I decided to see more of Italy and this post comes very in handy for that!
I will definitely go back to this blog when I visit LOMBARDY, .
Thank for that!
Your photos are really awsome.I love your blog. keep sharing. Such a nice blog.
I have once been to Milan and a sneak peak about the article transported me back in time to potentially the world’s most beautiful place.
Thanks for sharing the post and helping me relive the moments gone by.
Hey! Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it. Photos are Awesome.
Wonderful articles and amazing photographs. Keep sharing your awesomeness.
My husband and I are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Italy in November and we found such an useful information about things to do in (LOMBARDY, ITALY) through this article. we can plan our trip according to the places you mentioned in this blog. Even you gave such a wonderful collection of pictures in this article and these pictures making us more excited to visit Italy as soon as possible.
Beautiful city, always wanted to visit this place. Pics are amazing, Canal ride and Train ride sounds great. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Nice shots! I wish I could go there The places was awesome. 🙂
Lombardy is the region great cities like medieval Bergamo and its high city, Brescia, Mantua Renaissance, Unesco heritage with neighboring Sabionetta
Beautiful scenery !!!
This part of Italy is very beautiful. I think I will enjoy the places you’ve shared very much in this post.
Thanks a lot for a great information sharing and tips !!!
I wish to be there in 2017
ya it’s really nice info sharing and italy is wonderful place for tourism..
Thanks to share all of things here.
I like all specially Polenta e Osei. I never go there but i like to visit Italy once in my life. I like canal ride also.
The Vertemate Franchi Castle is very beautiful! Also another city where they serve aperitivo with pizza, pasta, meat and desserts is Turin, 1-2 hours from Milan.
This is perfect pictures of the photo essays. I really like this blog.
Wonderful post, lovely pictures. Food is the best part while travelling, cooking course and attending the meat festival are something really awesome during your trip.
Impressive ! Thanks for sharing such great information. Great Stuff with nice pics.
Lombardy look amazing. Haven’t sen yet, my on my list 🙂
I like this blog. thanks for the blog. it was very informative and the pictures are captured very beautifully.
The view of the Duomo and the Galleria always impresses and the street musicians always seem to provide a pleasant atmosphere. From here you can do anything, whether it is to see a show at the Scala, shop, go to a drink/meal/gelatto or get to another part of the city.
It is a wonderful view from there. Thanks for the other suggestions!
Each activity looked amazing! Wow! I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class while traveling.
Thanks! I highly recommend it 🙂
love Chiavenna! it’s a very beautiful town! congrats for the pics 🙂
Thank you! It is a real hidden gem in Italy I think.
Wonderful place! Specially that yummy, delicious Polenta e Osei, I loved this. I would definitely add this place in my destination list. Thanks for sharing.
Your photos are amazing. Italy is on my list for destinations for my next trip. I’ll be aiming to check out Lombardy on my way.
That train ride is awesome. I wish I could go there. Thanks for sharing. The photos are great!
such a nice information you have shared i am also planning to visit italy this summer and i love to visit Il Duomo Terrace
Very cool Italy is one of my favorite countries.
I have always wanted to tour Italy. Your photos are breathtaking.
Amazing! These pictures make me want to go there!
Fabulous Places Samuel,Really The places are looking Stunning,I never Visit Like this,really awesome,i am very excited to read your article while,i am very happy,thanks…
Believe it or not we have never been to Lombardy even though we have visited Italy many times. After reading this we will have to change that!
I’m off to Italy in June and I am so excited! These pictures are making me-even more excited – it looks so beautiful there.
I’ll probably fall in love With That country and never leave!
Amazing! all the photos are stunning there is no doubt that Italy is best place for tourist.
great piece of information there man.. thanks!
Beautiful pictures! I’d love to visit Lomardy some day.
I have always wanted to go to Italy. Thank you for sharing photos of your adventures there. I love the lizard!
Lombardy is a wonderful place, every traveler can spend some hours in Lombardy, This post exactly sharing my thoughts of things to do in Lombardy. additionally they can visit Italy tallwaterfall, golf club and Lake como.
I’m off to Italy in June and I am so excited! These photos are making me even more excited – it looks so beautiful there.
I’ll probably fall in love with that country and never leave! 🙂
Cool! That graffiti looks too gorgeous. I would love to take that train ride
Beautiful , both the local and the photos are breathtaking . Thanks for sharing this with us wonder.
great piece of information there man.. thanks!
Wow the foods of Lombardy look amazing, wish there was a scratch and sniff on your blog post, I can almost taste that amazing food!
Cool! That graffiti looks too gorgeous. I would love to take that train ride 🙂
Thanks for sharing this great information , such a nice blog ……you are fab guys keep writing.
Samuel, your work is absolutely beautiful! Found you through your asia street food videos 🙂 I’m going next year, but heading to Oceania in the summer. I love your photos! Great stuff. Did you end up meeting a teacher while working abroad, or you’ve stayed a one-man show?