A Quick Tour Of Italy – Small Town Lombardy

Author: Levi Reiss

If you are planning a tour of Europe, why don’t you consider the Lombardy region of northern Italy? Depending on your particular interests, this beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. There are even some parts of Lombardy that are relatively undiscovered by tourists. This article presents Lombardy outside of its capital Milan or the beautiful Lake districts. These are described in companion articles in this series.

Over the millennia Lombardy has been in the hands of numerous invaders. The list includes the Etruscans and the Gauls, then the Romans, Franks, and Goths, and finally the French, Spaniards, and Austrians. Did we forget the Lombards? All of these invaders left their mark, some more and some less. Keep local history in mind as you tour this impressive region.

Pavia ponte sul Ticino

The internationally known University of Pavia was founded in 1361 and is still going strong. Visit Pavia’s Fourteenth Century Visconteo Castle now home to the Municipal Museum filled with great paintings and archeological material. The Cathedral’s dome is the third largest in Italy. Pavia’s number one attraction is the Fifteenth Century Charterhouse of Pavia monastery, north of the city.

The city of Cremona, whose population is some seventy thousand, was settled over two thousand years ago. It was home to Stradivari, the world’s greatest violinmaker. Actually the violin was invented in Cremona way before Stradivari was born. Today one finds more than 50 violinmakers in Cremona, plus an International School of Violin Making and Stradivarius Museum.

mantua cover small
Mantua is a city of about fifty thousand. Romeo fled to Mantua after he killed Juliet’s cousin in a swordfight. The 500-room Palazzo Ducale was constructed between the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Its centerpiece, the Wedding Chamber room took a full seven years to paint. When you see it, you’ll know why. Don’t forget to look at the ceiling.

The Sixteenth Century suburban Palazzo Te is one of the greatest Renaissance palaces. Make sure to see Cupid and Psyche’s Room showing a wedding with interesting and unusual guests. The walls contain Seventeenth Century graffiti.

Gourmets know Cremona for its Mostarda, mustard flavored candied fruits that accompany Bollito Misto, mixed boiled meats. A local version includes calf’s head, veal tongue, and pig’s foot. The area’s best-known wine is the Oltrepo Pavese DOC grown south of Pavia, across the Po River, hence its name. This wine is made in multiple styles from multiple grape varieties and is said to be the most popular wine in Milan.

About the author:

Once upon a time Levi Reiss wrote ten computer and Internet books either alone or with a co-author. And yet, he really prefers drinking fine Italian or other wine, with the right food and friends. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website http://www.travelitalytravel.com which focuses on local wine and food.