Milan and the Lakes
A guide for a visit to Milan lasting two, three, or more days.
It covers also the two largest lakes near Milan: Lake Como and Lake Maggiore. In Lake Como, the towns of Como, Bellagio, Menaggio, and Varenna, in addition to the one-day trips you can make from one of these towns to Piona, Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello.
In Lake Maggiore, Stresa, plus the one-day trips you can make to the Borromean Islands, the Angera castle, Locarno, Mottarone, Villa Taranto and the Centovalli railway.
There are extensive descriptions and color photos of the attractions: museums, churches, nightlife, and other attractions.
It includes a chapter on food and recipes from Lombardy, with links, active in the digital versions, to the relevant entries in an Italian recipe database.
There are descriptions on how to get to Milan, on driving and parking in the city, useful info to stay there, and reviews of several restaurants.
The guide is divided into sections covering single days or half days to allow you to combine several sections depending on the length of your stay and your preference of what to see.
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Milan and the Lakes: Excerpt from the book. – Milan
Taking a stroll around Milan is an excellent way of getting to know some fascinating corners. It is also the only way to get acquainted with its flavor and lifestyle. It is true what is told about the Milanese who are always in a hurry.
However, even if nobody could deny Milan is a very active city, its citizens have learned when to stop and how to enjoy a walk in the city center pedestrian areas while having an aperitif and a good chat with some good friends.
The city center pedestrian areas.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele is a pedestrian precinct with the two main cinemas, bookshops, fashion shops, and bars with open-air tables.
Piazza San Babila – Start of the pedestrian precinct, a square surrounded by post-war architecture with many fashionable shops.
Via Della Spiga – the pedestrian street where the great stylists have their showrooms
Brera is one of the most attractive areas with fine private houses, art galleries, original shops, most popular for its bars, clubs, restaurants and night-life.
“Climbing” the Duomo
The effort of “climbing” the Duomo is highly rewarded by the magnificent view of the surrounding plain up to the Alps; should the weather be ungenerous it will still be possible to enjoy the vision of the “Madonnina”, the golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the 135 lace-like spires and the many statues which decorate the roof.
On entering the majestic interior of the cross-shaped cathedral of the Duomo di Milano, the sight is captured by the polychrome stained glass windows depicting scenes from the life of the saints.
The eight naves of the Duomo Cathedral are divided by 52 gigantic pillars topped by a series of niches with statues.
You have to pay a ticket to enter the Duomo. You do not need advance reservations, as the capacity of the Duomo is great. Lines are only present during the most frequented tourist seasons.
Milan and the Lakes: Lake Como
Bellagio is called the pearl of Lake Como. It is undoubtedly the most famous resort on the lake. For centuries, its scenic location has enchanted artists and writers, not only from Italy but also from abroad. It is on the tip of a headland dividing the lake into the two legs of Como and Lecco.
The town stretches along the coast, and part of it goes up the slopes of the peninsula.
Thanks to its location, it has a great variety of views; indeed, it offers a good view of the whole lake. On the northern horizon, one can see the Pre-Alps.
You can see some of the best views from the park of Villa Serbelloni and the top of Monte San Primo.
On a particularly bright day, one can make out the Alps, from Mont Blanc to the Ortles, and the Madonnina on top of the Duomo of Milan.
The historical center situated at a higher level dominated by the Romanesque Basilica of San Giacomo (enlarged in the Baroque Age) and the more recent lake-front arcade is all preserved intact.
Among the aristocratic villas, let’s remember Villa Serbelloni. It was first a castle. It became then a country residence and then transformed into a villa at the end of the 15th century. Later once again, restructured in the 17th and turned into a hotel during the last decade of the 19th century. It is now the appointed headquarters of conventions and study tours.
Milan and the Lakes: Lake Maggiore
Isola Bella Lake Maggiore
“When you come out of the tunnel, there is a terrace from which you can see the Alps to one side, and to the other, the eastern banks of the lake.” (Ph. Petit-Radel, 1815).
This splendid and magnificent Baroque Italian garden is one of the most famous and best-preserved examples in Italy.
Built over several different periods, it has maintained its coherence.
It is constructed in the form of a pyramid that ends in a huge statue of a Unicorn ridden by Love.
The garden has ten terraces, descending gradually. It has basins, fountains, architectural perspectives, and a multitude of statues dating from the second half of the seventeenth century. They represent the personification of rivers, seasons, and winds.
walls and balustrades border many of these “rooms”. It is still possible to see where the jets of water, fountains, small waterfalls, and streams of water gushed out.
The particularly mild climate has favored the growth of a rich variety of different types of vegetation. All of it found their natural habitat here.
There are azaleas and rhododendrons, espaliers of grapefruit and bitter oranges, orchids and carnivorous plants. There is also a large camphor tree, which is over two hundred years old.
The gardeners keep the exotic plants in the nineteenth-century greenhouse during the winter season. You can see it also during the visit to the garden.
The garden blooms recurrently from March to September, which means that it is always charming and full of color.