The trendiest Italian destination in 2015 was undoubtedly Milan, however this city boasts a strong increase of tourists, 21% more in the last four years, and in particular a higher rating by foreign travelers, who prefer Milan to all other Italian cities (as reported by a Global Blue research).
This is one of the effects of Expo 2015, which led to a growth of 54.3% of visits to the city museums and an increase in arrivals to Milan’s airports (Linate + 7.3%, Malpensa + 0.9%) in addition to excellent results for accommodation facilities.
The Lombardy’s capital is confirmed also in 2016 “a place to be” and for this reason you should visit also the nearby areas, easily reached within an hour or less.
The center of Milan, in fact, is the first stop for many tourists who like to go shopping, do sightseeing and frequent the most exclusive clubs and restaurants.
Our tour starts from the green parks in Milan and continues among beautiful hamlets, amazing castles and natural resources that enrich Lombardy, the most populated region of Italy.
Credits: By Geobia (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
The Guastalla Gardens are among the less extensive in Milan and certainly among the most beautiful to see there. Those who think that in Milan there are few green areas are going wrong, since features numerous gardens even in its very center.
We suggest a visit to the Guastalla Gardens to admire the neoclassical temple of Cagnola, the XVII century shrine, which contains the group of polychrome terracotta statues, and the bathtub in baroque style dating from the XVII century.
Among the most peculiar trees of the Gardens is a specimen of catalpa, the tree of cigars, which resembles a plant sculpture, and is also recognizable thanks to the information provided by the free guide available to visitors.
The Chiaravalle Abbey
Credits: By pollobarca2 (R0014912rt), via Wikimedia Commons
Inside the city there are places that seem to belong to another era: one of these is the Chiaravalle district, located in the Parco Agricolo Sud, where there is the eponymous Cistercian abbey.
This picturesque abbey is one of the first examples of Gothic architecture in Italy and was built in 1135; the land reclamation works carried out by the monks contributed to the economic development of the whole territory in the following centuries to the foundation of the abbey.
We recommend visiting the interiors of the church, where there are the frescoes of Fiammenghini (the brothers Giovanni Battista and Giovanni Mauro Della Rovere); while on the outside there is the church tower, called the “Ciribiciaccola” in Milanese dialect.
The town of Castiglione Olona is an excellent destination for selective tourists because of its position, between Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, and its streets, squares and palaces dating back to the XV century, seemingly unaltered over the centuries.
The popular traditions here are still deeply felt, as evidenced by the Palio dei Castelli, the third oldest in Italy (after Siena and Asti), which occurs in three days in the second week of July.
During the Palio is held a parade, in which people wear Renaissance clothing, and the most typical competition is the race of the barrels, that consists in to roll as fast as possible the barrels along the streets of the town.
For more information: http://www.prolococastiglioneolona.it/il_palio_dei_castelli.htm.
30 km away from Milan there is Morimondo, a hamlet whose history is tied to the vicissitudes of the abbey of Cistercian monks who lived there. Today is a popular destination for Milanese people who go there mostly on weekends.
The Abbey of Morimondo is open all year round with opening hours varying according to the seasons; our advice is to book an evening guided tour in the summer, because there are available themed guided tours from 7:00 pm onwards, a unique chance to let charmed by this church illuminated by twilight.
The tour also includes an aperitif related every time to a different period in the history of Morimondo: the Roman era, the Longobardic era, Middle Age and Renaissance.
The abbey is also home to classical and sacred music concerts and hosts numerous events throughout the year.
If you’ve always been to Milan before and you would like to return to Lombardy, or you would like to follow an original itinerary as first visit in this region, these cozy towns can meet all your expectations.