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Lombardia - Things to Do - Tourism

By tradition, the main tourist attractions in this region, apart from Milan and the other main towns, are the great Alpine lakes and this detracts from the scenic and artistic attractions of the mountains and plains.

Starting from the plains, an ideal itinerary leads to Vigevano, famous for the beautiful Piazza Ducale, which Ludovico il Moro had built between 1492 and 1494, perhaps to plans by Leonardo da Vinci, dominated by the Torre del Castello (castle tower, planned by Bramante); nearby is the interesting Sforzesca complex, built by Ludovico il Moro; eastwards lies Sant'Angelo Lodigiano with its medieval castle and Lodi, built in 1158 by Barbarossa after the Milanese had destroyed the ancient `Laus Pompeia'; the town has several interesting monuments such as the Duomo, Broletto and the Santuario dell'Incoronata.

The town of Crema has many important works of art: the Romanesque-Gothic Duomo, Renaissance Palazzo del Comune and the Gothic-Renaissance ex-monastery of Sant'Agostino, today housing the civic museum; a little farther on is Soncino with the remarkable Rocca Sforzesca, an interesting 15th century fortified complex; farther south, almost within sight of the Po River, is Sabbioneta, worth a visit for its star-shaped layout and famous monuments (all 16th century) erected by Vespasiano Gonzaga: Palazzo Ducale, Palazzo del Giardino, Galleria degli Antichi (frescoes) and Teatro Olimpico (theatre).

Farther north stand Romano di Lombardia with its interesting castle (13th-14th century) and, especially, Monza, situated at the edge of Brianza, with its Lombard-Gothic Duomo, the `Corona Ferrea' (used since medieval times for the coronation of the kings of Italy), the extremely valuable Tesoro (treasure) and the neo-classical Villa Reale del Piermarini built by Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.

Moving on to the lakes, Lake Maggiore (or Verbano) is only partly in Lombardy, one side being in Piedmont and one-sixth on Swiss territory. On the Lombard side are Luino, Laveno and Angera (interesting Rocca), picturesque villages suitable for quiet holidays.

Past the small Varese lakes (Monate, Comabbio, Biandronno, Varese) lie the Italian-Swiss Lake Lugano (or Ceresio) and Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave on Swiss territory; this is a renowned health resort and the site of one of Italy's four casinos. To the west lies Lake Como (or Lario), entirely in Lombardy with the Lecco arm rich in memories of Manzoni.

Starting from Como, the main tourist attractions are: Cernobbio, with luxurious Villa d'Este (17th century); Tremezzo with Villa Carlotta (18th century) surrounded by magnificent Italian gardens; Bellagio with the splendid Melzi and Serbelloni villas; Menaggio and Gravedona; then descending towards the Lecco arm, the Abbazia di Piona (13th century) at Colico; Bellano, at the opening of picturesque Valsassina; lastly at the foot of Mount Resegone the charming town of Lecco, a tourist resort full of history and art.

Past Bergamo lies another entirely Lombard lake: Lake Iseo (or Sebino) with its main holiday resorts at Sarnico, Lovere (Pinacoteca Tadini-art gallery), Pisogne and Iseo and Mount Isola, the largest lake island in Italy.

Lastly, past Brescia is the biggest lake in Italy: Lake Garda (or Benaco); only its western bank is almost entirely in Lombardy. Renowned for its mild climate, it is characterized by a Mediterranean landscape with citrus fruit, olive groves and subtropical flowers.

Its main health and holiday resorts are: Sirmione (Rocca Scaligera and Grotte di Catullo), Desenzano del Garda, Sal , Gardone Riviera (Vittoriale degli Italiani), Limone sul Garda.

The Lombardy mountains have many tourist resorts offering an ample choice of excursions, mountaineering and winter sports.

Worthy of mention are Madesimo at the foot of the Spluga Pass (Italy-Switzerland); Livigno, a duty-free zone beyond the watershed; Bormio, at the foot of the Stelvio (summer skiing); Santa Caterina Valfurva, below the Ortles Massif; Ponte di Legno and the Tonale Pass (summer skiing on the Presanella glaciers), Chiesa in Valmalenco, within sight of the Bernina Massif; Foppolo in the upper Val Brembana.

Last but not least, in Valcamonica, of particular interest are the rock carvings made by the Camunis (ancient inhabitants of Valcamonica-7 000-3 000 BC.): the area round Capo di Ponte constitutes the Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestri (rock carvings).

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