You are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to see in north Italy. The terrain is very varied, with two coastal regions and mountainous territory. The whole of Italy is packed with historic cities full of wonderful museums. The cities of the north seem to have a touch of elegance as well. Many of these cities have their own airports and are perfect places for a fly drive city break. But you will probably be tempted to stay far longer.
Milan is one of Italy’s largest cities. It has a wealth of beautiful architecture. Its most famous building is the Duomo which has an incredibly intricate façade and wonderful stained-glass windows. Milan is a very elegant city of great importance in the world of fashion. It is the perfect place to buy classic couture or just window shop. If you have time, go to the Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology. It is housed in a former monastery and is considered one of the best science museums in the world.
Venice looks like a Canaletto painting come to life. Wander along its streets by the canals. Don’t miss a visit to St. Mark’s and the vast Piazza outside, a perfect place to have a drink or a coffee and watch the world go by. Other must-see places are the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge.
Turin rivals Milan for elegance. It is a much smaller city but has a very gracious style in its layout with large squares and cool arcades where you can shop or enjoy the restaurants without any problems with the weather. It is home to some of the best chocolate in the world. Turin also has a superb Egyptian Museum, and its cathedral houses the controversial relic, the Shroud.
Bologna is sometimes called the city of towers because of the number of historic towers there. The Torre Prendiparte is considered one of the most beautiful of these. There are also many beautiful churches and squares, and the quality of its cuisine is renowned.
Genoa on the Ligurian Sea is the sixth largest city in Italy and a busy port. It is a city with fine architecture and has played a prominent role in history. Explore the Maritime Museum and Aquarium to learn more about marine life and the history of the port.
Trieste, close to the Slovenian border, has a truly multicultural feel. Explore the harbour and walk along the Molo Audace, a 300 metre promenade which juts out to sea. Like Venice, Trieste has a Grand Canal although in the case of Trieste it only dates back to the eighteenth century. The city also has Roman ruins, castles and churches.
Verona’s most important attraction is the Arena, a Roman amphitheatre which is still in use. These days it is used for large scale opera performances rather than throwing Christians to the lions. The city also has an attractive cathedral and elegant squares. It is a short drive from Lake Garda, one of Italy’s most beautiful and famous holiday destinations.
Apart from all the wonderful cities in the north, Italy has a series of lakes surrounded by spectacular scenery. There is Lake Garda with its perfectly clear waters for swimming and sailing. Lake Como has views of the Alps and elegant villas. These are the most famous lakes, but the others are interesting too. Lake Iseo has the medieval Castello di Grumello with its own winery. You can also fish and rent boats there. Lake Lugano has a mix of Swiss and Italian culture and hosts many events such as a chamber music festival. Lake Maggiore again has the Swiss Italian mix of cultures and is popular for swimming and bungee jumping. It also has the Isola Madre, an island with spectacular gardens. It is a gourmet area with handmade gorgonzola, local honeys and fruit bread. Lake Orta is known for its hiking trails including one to the Holy Mountain, a UNESCO site with twenty chapels. The lake is bordered with small attractive villages and is considered a great area for romantic holidays. Lake Varese has a nature reserve, Palude Brabbia, with many visiting birds, water chestnuts and water lilies.
Last but not least, the North of Italy is great for skiing. Val Gardena is considered the best resort whether you are a beginner or a world star. Madonna di Campiglio is another great resort and is well-lit at night for those who like night skiing. It also has other fun possibilities like snowshoeing and dogsledding. Kornplatz in South Tyrol is a good resort for families as it caters for a mix of levels, and everything is very well-serviced. Zermatt (Italian Swiss) and Alpe di Siusi are other well-maintained high quality ski resorts.