The Milanese love going on day trips outside the gates of the city as they say and there are lots of wonderful places nearby. Here is the Insider Guide to the greatest places
50 km north of Milan is Como by the beautiful Lake Como surrounded by mountains.It takes about 1 hour from Cadorna station to Como lake and a return ticket is a little under €10. It’s a cosy and very beautiful small town with antique town walls and a great shopping area in the historical center and actually also the place where our personal love affair with Italy began many years ago.
When we were there last we had lunch at the super neat
Ristorante Sociale, 6, Via Rodari (find on map) – prices are reasonable and and the food is local and solid – but next time we are planning on trying out the much more sophisticated restaurant with all the great reviews The Market Place, 55, Via Rovelli (find on map).
Another fantastic thing to do here is to take the ferry from Como (just by Piazza Cavour) for e.g.Bellaggio or out to see the incredibly beautiful villas, located in the area.
You can go from Como with the funicular up to Brunate where on a clear day you get an amazing view of Lake Como and the Alps.
During the summer the great outdoor swimming pool Villa Olmo, 20 minutes walk from the train station, is open every day from 9 am-7.30 pm, tickets are €8.50 for the whole day and €5.50 for the afternoon for adults and €4.50 (full day) €3.50 (afternoon) for children. You have to book online and sadly the page is only in Italian (!) but follow the “prenota” button and insert the date you want to go here and then click prosegui (continue). You can also rent sun beds (lettini) and beach umbrellas (ombrelloni).
There are several antique markets in Como:
On the first Sunday every month 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Piazza San Fedele (find on map)
On the second Wednesday every month (Except January and August) 8.30 a.m.-7 p.m. in Porto Torre, Viale Carlo Cattaneo (find on map)
On the last Saturday every month (except January and August) in Via Muratto og Piazza Ferretta (find on map)
On the third Sunday every month. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. (except January and August) in Via Spallino (find on map)
Bergamo is one of the few towns in Italy whose historical center is still located within the original town walls which have maintained their original aspect.
Bergamo is divided into two parts Bergamo Bassa (low Begamo) and Berrgamo Alta (high Begamo), Bergamo Alta is the historical part of the town which you can get to either by the city funicular or by taking the 45-minute hike up.
There are monasteries, historical buildings and an ancient botanical garden.
The wonderful Accademia Carrara museum is located in Bergamo Bassa.
There is an antique market in Begamo Alta on the thrid Sunday of every month (except August) on Piazza Vecchia (find on map)
A villlage built by the Crespi family for the workers on their factory. It was very advanced for its time (late 1800s) with free education for the children of the employees, a free indoor swimming pool and the first village in Italy to have modern public lighting. In 1995 the village was entered nto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The directions on how to get there can be found here.
Isole Borromee and Stresa.
The Isolee Borromee (the Borromean Islands) are located in the Maggiore Lake and can be reached from Stresa by boat, they are lovely at all times of the year but are paricularly stunning during springtime, They are famous for their amazing palaces and gardens. There are three islands: Isola Bella with the Borromean Palace and gardens, Isola Superiore (Fishmerman’s Island) a tiny island with a beautiful fishing village and Isola Madre with a botanical garden and Palace.
But you can also eat on Fisherman’s Island (Isola Superiore), example
Belvedere, Via di Mezzo (find on map).
If you feel like pampering yourself go for a day to the San Pellegrino spa (terme) (find on map), you need a car to get up there. Prices and opening hours here. A small piece of advice; go on a weekday.
Lodi is another town that is very near Milan, it takes about 35 minutes with the train going to Bologna, and you can catch it from both Stazione Centrale and Cadorna. Lodi is a lovely little town whose interesting archtecture dates all the way back to 1160.
There is an antique market in Lodi on the first Sunday of every month (except January and August) 8 a.m.7 p.m. on Piazza Castello (find on map)
And please don’t miss Vigevano in the province of Pavia. It takes about an hour to get there and we recommend taking the train from Porta Genova railway station (find on map)
Vigevano is an incredibly beautiful art town with an amazing renaissance square Piazza Ducale, considered one of Italy’s finest. There is also a castle, Vigevano’s own Castello Sforzesco which was transformed from a fortress to the residence of a prince in 1492-94 by Ludovio Sforza. Furthermore Vigevano is famous for making shoes and there is a shoe museum inside the Castello Sforzesco with no admission.
There’s an antique market in Vigevanoon the thrid Sunday of every month (except August) in the area between Piazza Piazza Martiri della Liberazione, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Via S. Croce (find on map).
Wine and Food.
If you love wine and great food there are some areas we recommend you visit and you could spend the night in one of the many agrotourisms. Some great areas are Franciacorta, Asti and Langhe (where, among other towns, Alba is located).
There are many food and wine festivals in both Piedmont and Lombardia. These festivals are great for getting an insight into small communities and their seasonal products (wine, truffles, cheeses, chestnuts, mushrooms, pumpkins etc.)
Star-studded restaurants outside Milan.
If you came to Milan by car there are lots of great restaurants in Lombardy. We want to mention:
D’O Davide Oldani’s wonderful restaurant with 1 Michelin star, located in San Pietro all’Olmo, Cornaredo (find on map). Davide Oldani is the chef who invented the concept Pop Cuisine (Cucina Pop). Remember to book well in advance.
Cannavacciuolo Bistrot. 1, Piazza Martiri della Libertà in Novara (find on map) which belongs to Antonino Cannavacciulo, one of the new judges in the Italian edition of Masterchef.
You can find the Michelin guide’s other suggestions here.