Lombardy, or Lombardia in Italian, is one of those regions of Italy like Liguria whose existence is nearly unknown while its charms are enjoyed by many. The tourist might come to Lombardy for the vaunted lakes that spread across its center: Maggiore, Como, Iseo, and Garda. It is a rich and populous region. Italy's second city, Milan, lies within its borders.
Then there's the hidden Lombardia. The world's richest collection of prehistoric petroglyphs, over 140,000 artworks, are squeezed into a valley north of Lago d'Iseo near the town of Capo di Ponte (see the location on the map below). The collection of rock art in the Valcamonica was Italy's first UNESCO World heritage site, named way back in 1979.
Prefer the odd to the historic? Just a hop, skip and jump (or boat ride) from the city of Montova is one of the most interesting churches we've set eyes upon. There's a Crocodile hanging from the rafters, and that's just the start of it.
Lombardy stretches from Switzerland in the north to Emilia Romagna on the south. The autostrada A4 runs east-west through the region. The high speed Torino to Trieste rail line parallels the autostrada. European long distance buses are also a possibility if your next destination is a big city out of the region.
It is 114 miles or 183 km from Brescia to Venice. Train times from Brescia to Venice average a little over 2 hours. The fastest train takes 1 hour and 22 minutes.
It is 58 miles/98 kilometers driving distance from Milan to Brescia.
Milan--Milano in Italian--was once shunned by tourists, who left the city after glancing at the Duomo and the Last Supper. Today Italy's second city has made its comeback and seems to be on everyone's list of top destinations. And the top 2 attractions haven't changed.
The most popular lake in Lombardy's lake region is undoubtedly Lake Come, Lago di Como. It's easy to get to Como from Milan. If you stay in the town of Como, you can visit the other towns via ferry. A more "romantic" destination is Bellagio, a short ferry ride from Como.
For detailed information on Como, see Martha's Italy: Lake Como Travel Guide.
For tranquility and beauty, we like Lake Iseo. Just to the north is the Ancient rock art of the Valcamonica.
If you'd like a small lake surrounded by history, a tranquil place nearly undiscovered by American tourists, you might want to check out Lake Iseo, lago di Iseo. Just north are the rock art sites of the beautiful Valcamonica. If you'd like to visit a mountain village rich in history, check out Pescarzo, especially during the late July festival called ImmaginArti. To the south is the Franciacorta wine region, which produces some of the world's best sparkling wine.
If you are a music lover, and the name Stradivarius sends you heart aflutter, you will want to visit Cremona. It's full of violin makers to this day, and the new Museo del Violino, the violin museum, is quite impressive. But the fun doesn't end there! The main square is rimmed by an amazing collection of architectural gems. The Romanesque cathedral, baptistery, and Torrazzo (tower, the tallest in pre-modern Europe at 112.7 meters, and you can climb it for some fantastic views) are all facing the administration center, the Comune--and, of course, a bar with free internet where you can sit and admire it all. Cremona also features some unique food. We recommend a meal at La Sosta.
Duomo di Cremona at night
Travelers overlook Pavia, but the richness of its culture and history are to be found in the narrow streets and courtyards. The city not far from Milan contains one of Europe's oldest universities where you can visit a plethora of museums and a botanical garden. There's plenty of Romanesque around, plus a castle AND an Abbey.
The provinces surrounding the cities of Mantova, Cremona, Brescia, and Bergamo have been named a European Region of Gastronomy in 2017. From the sinus-clearing mostarda of Cremona to the pike in green sauce of Mantova, you'll find some interesting "Italian" food in the region.
Lombardy has three major airports, of which two are near Milan. Milano Malpensa is the large international airport. Closer to the city is the smaller and less confusing Milano Linate airport. Orio al Serio airport, also known as Il Caravaggio International Airport, is near Bergamo.
Time to visit the lake region is the late spring into early fall. The depth of these lakes provides a cooling influence especially after the sun goes down, so there are nice evenings even during the warm days. For example, see the historic climate charts for Como to choose the best time to go to the Lake region.
Milan's climate charts show a different story. It can get hot in on summer days and it doesn't cool off at night, a reason many Milanese head for the lakes in the warm season.
The normal high temperatures in Lombardy aren't sweltering in any case. The region is just south of Switzerland in northern Italy, so you can be comfortable in summer outside of the major cities.