Must-see attractions in The Italian Lakes

  • Courtyard of Pinacoteca di Brera.

    Pinacoteca di Brera


    Located upstairs from one of Italy’s most prestigious art schools, this gallery houses Milan’s collection of Old Masters, much of it ‘lifted’ from Venice…

  • Prada shop front in Quadrilateral del’Oro

    Quadrilatero d'Oro


    A stroll around the Quadrilatero d'Oro, the world's most famous shopping district, is a must even for those not sartorially inclined. The quaintly cobbled…

  • Certosa di Pavia


    One of the Italian Renaissance's most notable buildings is the splendid Certosa di Pavia. Giangaleazzo Visconti of Milan founded the monastery, 10km north…

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Sforza Castle, Milan, Lombardy, Italy.

    Castello Sforzesco


    Originally a Visconti fortress, this iconic red-brick castle was later home to the mighty Sforza dynasty, who ruled Renaissance Milan. The castle's…

  • Palazzo Ducale


    For more than 300 years the enormous Palazzo Ducale was the seat of the Gonzaga – a family of wealthy horse breeders who rose to power in the 14th century…

  • Fondazione Prada building complex exterior.

    Fondazione Prada


    Conceived by designer Miuccia Prada and architect Rem Koolhaas, this museum is as innovative and creative as the minds that gave it shape. Seven renovated…

  • MILAN, ITALY - JUNE 22:  A general view of the atmosphere at GQ Celebrates Jim Nelson's 10th Anniversary as Editor-in-Chief Party on June 22, 2013 in Milan at Villa Necchi on June 22, 2013 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for GQ)

    Villa Necchi Campiglio


    Designed by homegrown talent Piero Portaluppi, this exquisitely restored 1930s villa was commissioned by Pavian heiresses Nedda and Gigina Necchi (of the…

  • Interior of Casa Museo Boschi-di Stefano

    Casa Museo Boschi-di Stefano


    Milan’s most eccentric museum of 20th-century Italian painting is crowded in a 1930s apartment that still has the appearance of the haute-bourgeois home…

  • Santa Giulia


    You could spend a whole day in this monster of a museum housed in an ex-monastery and still have plenty left for another visit. Those with limited time…

  • Museo del Violino


    Cremona’s history echoes to sound of violins and violin-making, meaning a visit to this relatively new, state-of-the-art museum is practically obligatory…

  • Museo e Tesoro del Duomo

    The Italian Lakes

    Religious art museums are often dull, full of faded priestly vestments and tarnished silver that hasn’t been polished since the Risorgimento. But this…

  • Villa Reale

    The Italian Lakes

    In Monza's colossal park stands this equally colossal palace. Built between 1777 and 1780 as a viceregal residence for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria,…

  • Accademia Carrara


    Just east of the old city walls is one of Italy's great art repositories. Founded in 1780, it contains an exceptional range of Italian masters. Raphael's…

  • Grotte di Catullo


    Occupying 2 hectares at Sirmione's northern tip, this ruined 1st-century-AD Roman villa is a picturesque complex of teetering stone arches and tumbledown…

  • Cascata del Varone

    Lake Garda

    An unusual 100m waterfall that thunders through a vertical limestone tunnel rather than off an open cliff. With the help of metal walkways, you can enter…

  • Torre del Campanone


    Bergamo's colossal, square-based Torre del Campanone soars 52m above the city. It still tolls a bell at 10pm, the legacy of an old curfew. Taking the lift…

  • Palazzo Te


    Palazzo Te was where Frederico II Gonzaga escaped for love trysts with his mistress Isabella Boschetti, and it's decorated in playboy style with stunning…

  • Duomo


    Como’s awesome marble-clad cathedral is one of the most important buildings on the lake, incorporating a variety of styles – Romanesque, Renaissance and…

  • Palazzo del Podestà


    On the northwest side of Piazza Vecchia, the fresco-dappled Palazzo del Podestà was traditionally home to Venice's representative in Bergamo. Today, the…

  • View of Piazza Vecchia in Bergamo.

    Piazza Vecchia


    The Upper Town's beating heart is the cafe-clad Piazza Vecchia, lined by elegant architecture that is a testament in stone and brick to Bergamo's long and…

  • View of Parco Sempione

    Parco Sempione


    Situated behind Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione was once the preserve of hunting Sforza dukes. Then Napoleon came to town and set about landscaping…

  • Baroque garden on the Island of Bella in Lake Maggiore.

    Isole Borromeo

    Lake Maggiore

    The Borromean Gulf forms Lake Maggiore's most beautiful corner, sheltering the Borromean Islands and their spectacular, privately owned palaces. Closest…

  • Villa Della Porta Bozzolo

    Villa della Porta Bozzolo

    Lake Maggiore

    In the unassuming town of Casalzuigno, about 9km east of Laveno, generations of nobles have swanned about the magnificent gardens of Villa della Porta…

  • Cattedrale di Cremona


    Welcome to an ecclesial colossus. Cremona’s cathedral started out as a Romanesque basilica, but the simplicity of that style later gave way to an…

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    Triennale di Milano


    Italy’s first Triennale took place in 1923 in Monza. It aimed to promote Italian design and applied arts, and its success led to the construction of…

  • Santa Caterina del Sasso

    Lake Maggiore

    One of northern Italy's most spectacularly sited monasteries, Santa Caterina del Sasso clings to the high rocky face of Lago Maggiore's southeast shore…

  • Isola San Giulio

    Orta San Giulio

    Anchored barely 500m in front of Piazza Mario Motta is Isola San Giulio. The island is dominated by the 12th-century Basilica di San Giulio, full of…

  • Interior of Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

    Museo Poldi Pezzoli


    At the age of 24 Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli had inherited not only his family fortune, but also his mother’s love of art. After extensive travels in which…

  • Two-seat cable cars take you gently up almost to the summit of Sasso del Ferro mountain, from where you can admire a magnificent view over Lake Maggiore.

    Laveno Funivia

    Lake Maggiore

    A highlight of Laveno is the Funivia, which whisks passengers up to a panoramic spot 949m above sea level, in the shadow of the Sasso del Ferro peak …

  • Entrance to the Torre Branca

    Torre Branca


    Giò Ponti's spindly 1933 steel tower (built in two months flat for a Triennale exhibition) provides a fantastic 108m-high viewing platform over Parco…

  • Rocca di Angera

    Lake Maggiore

    The chunky medieval Rocca di Angera fortress lords it over the town of Angera in no uncertain terms. From a distance, it is the first thing one sees…

  • Brunate


    Como is flanked to the east and west by steep and thickly wooded hills (scarred in part by the spread of residential housing). Northeast along the…

  • Monte Baldo

    Lake Garda

    The long mountain ridge that towers above the northeast shores of Lake Garda is known as Monte Baldo. Ironically, the name doesn’t refer to its baldness …

  • Brixia Parco Archeologico


    Brescia’s impressive archaeological complex cleverly reconstructs the city’s Roman past from fragments first discovered in the 1820s. It consists of three…

  • Torrazzo


    Cremona's 111m-tall torrazzo (bell tower, although 'torrazzo' translates literally as ‘great, fat tower’) is the third tallest brick bell tower in the…

  • Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore


    Bergamo's most striking church, begun in 1137, is quite a mishmash of styles. To its whirl of Romanesque apses (on which some external frescoes remain…

  • Orta San Giulio

    Lake Orta

    Overlooking the forest-lined banks of the shimmering Lake Orta, this shore-hugging village has abundant allure. It occupies a kidney-shaped peninsula with…

  • Università degli Studi di Pavia


    The University of Pavia was established in 1361 by Galeazzo II Visconti, although there had been a school of divinity here as early as 825. The oldest…

  • Villa Melzi d'Eril


    The grounds of neoclassical Villa Melzi d’Eril are a highlight among Lake Como's (many) delightful places. The villa was built in 1808 for one of Napoleon…

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