Top things to do

Top Choice Palace in Mantua

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 to become one of Italy's leading Renaissance families. Their…
Top Choice Museum in Gardone Riviera

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Poet, soldier, hypochondriac and proto-Fascist, Gabriele d'Annunzio (1863–1938) defies easy definition, and so does his estate. Bombastic, extravagant and unsettling, it's home to every architectural and decorative …
Top Choice Palace in Mantua

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 frescoes, playful motifs and encoded symbols. A Renaissance p…
Top Choice Artwork in Corso Magenta & Sant'Ambrogio

The Last Supper

Milan's most famous mural, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) is hidden away on a wall of the refectory adjoining the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie. Depicting Christ and his disciples at the dr…
Top Choice Cathedral in Duomo & San Babila

Duomo

A vision in pink Candoglia marble, Milan's extravagant Gothic cathedral, 600 years in the making, aptly reflects the city's creativity and ambition. Its pearly white facade, adorned with 135 spires and 3400 statues …
Top Choice Gallery in Duomo & San Babila

Museo del Novecento

Overlooking Piazza del Duomo, with fabulous views of the cathedral, is Mussolini's Arengario, from where he would harangue huge crowds in his heyday. Now it houses Milan's museum of 20th-century art. Built around a …
Top Choice Monastery in Pavia

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 of Pavia, in 1396 as a private chapel and mausoleum for the …
Top Choice Villa in Lenno

Villa Balbianello

A 1km walk along the lake shore from Lenno's main square, Villa Balbianello has cinematic pedigree: this was where scenes from Star Wars Episode II and the 2006 James Bond remake of Casino Royale were shot. The reas…
Top Choice Lombard in Mantua

Dal Pescatore

Petals of egg pasta frame slices of guinea fowl caramelised in honey saffron; silky tortellini are stuffed to bursting with pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and candied mostarda (fruit in a sweet mustard sauce). You practi…
Top Choice Historic Site in Desenzano del Garda

Villa Romana

Before the Clooneys and Versaces, wealthy Roman senators and poets had holiday homes on Italy's northern lakes. One survivor is Desenzano’s now-ruined Roman villa, which once extended over a hectare of prime lakesid…