Top 6 places to visit in North Italy

Italy is a country which is packed with jaw dropping beauty, from the stunning architecture of the Milan Cathedral in the North all the way to quaint beachside towns or Naples and Palermo in the South of the country.

The sights are beautiful, the traditional cuisine is scrumptious and the weather, especially in the summer months, is warm and lovely.

People come from all over the world to soak in the rich history of Italy’s iconic cities like Rome, Venice or Florence.

Milan is a major European fashion capital and the beachside cities draw a large crowd of tourists every year.

Every city in Italy, whether it’s in the north or south, has something special to offer visitors and Northern Italy is packed full of unique sights and tourist attractions.

If you’re planning a vacation to Northern Italy, you may be overwhelmed at how much there is to do and see! Hopefully this guide will help. Here are the top six places to visit in Northern Italy.

Milan Cathedral

Among the many things to do in Milan, visiting the Duomo is certainly the most important and memorable one.

The Duomo di Milano, which translates to the Milan Cathedral is a key monument that attract millions of tourists every year.The original building was constructed in the late 14th century and it took a full six centuries to complete, with construction finally ending in 1965.

However, there have been several renovations since then, with the most recent taking place in 2009.

The Duomo of Milano is the largest church in Italy and the third largest in the world, under only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City and Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil.

The architectural style of the church features broad naves, flying buttresses, openwork pinnacles and spires, as well as the highest Gothic archways of any fully completed church.

When visiting the Milan Cathedral make sure to take a trip to the roof, the most amazing sculptures are located there and you will get to admire the entire city from above.

Certosa di Pavia

Another fantastic place located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy is the Certosa di Pavia – a beautiful monastery with a rich history.

Its construction took 100 years and was finished just before the turn of the 16h century.

“Certosa” is named after a group of Carthusians, who were typically known for their plain architectural style. However, the Certosa di Pavia, ironically, is one of the most exuberant and intricate buildings in Italy.

It has features of both renaissance and gothic architectural styles, evident in the Latin cross path and gothic arches.

The massive building has several paintings done by famous artists, as well as decorative stained glass windows.

If you love architecture and history this is a perfect place for an interesting afternoon.

After visiting the Certosa it is highly recommended to head south and explore the lovely town of Pavia located just 15 minutes away.

Autodromo di Monza

If you aren’t as intrigued by the rich history of old buildings and architecture, there are still plenty of places to visit in Northern Italy- one of which is the Autodromo di Monza.

This historic race track is located to the north of Milan and third purpose-built motor racing circuit to exist in the entire world.

The Autodromo has three tracks and several races take place there annually. For all car and race-track fans, visiting the Autodromo di Monza could be an absolute dream come true.

Lake Como

If you ever see any pictures of Italy featuring a crystal blue lake in a valley, surrounded by lush green hills and white-capped mountains, that’s Lake Como.

Set at the base of the Alps, Lake Como is a posh resort area. Located in the Lombardy region, Lake Como is one of the largest and deepest lakes in the country, measuring 146 square kilometers in area and 400 meters in depth.

The lake stretches to meet the cities of Bellagio, Como and Brunate, amongst many others. For those interested in visiting, you can see Lake Como during a day trip or opt to stay in accomodation like lakeside villas.

Brunate Lighthouse

The Brunate Lighthouse, also referred to as the Faro Voltiano di Bronate or the Volta Lighthouse, is located in Brunate near Lake Como.

The lighthouse was named after Alessandro Volta, a famous Italian physicist and chemist who made significant contributions to power and electricity.

It was constructed in 1927 on the 100th anniversary of Volta’s death. Brunate Lighthouse stands a whopping 29 meters tall and features a light that flashes red, green and white that can be seen as far as 50 km away. The colors symbolize the invention of the battery, which is said to have been invented by Volta. Though a steep climb, the trip to this large octagonal structure is well worth it.

Sacro Monte di Varallo

A sacro monte is a mountainside building used by Christians to worship Christ. Directly translated as the Sacred Mountain of Varallo, the Sacro Monte di Varallo overlooks the quaint town of Varallo Sesia.

Varallo Sesia has a population of just over 7,000 people and is located in the Northern Italy region of Piedmont.

The Sacro Monte di Varallo grounds are fascinating, as they are surrounded by a garden, several chapels that narrate the life of Christ and many statues and sculptures that do the same. If you are interested in history, religion and culture, you won’t want to miss this place.

 

About Barbara

Barbara Mazz is the founder of crabintheair.com, a travel blog where she shares her passion for exploring the world. She loves writing about all the hotels visited, the wonderful cities discovered and the unique people met along the way.

 

Hello, you: Get it Magazine, March 2018 column

Having the last word this month, on facing your future self.

~

I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When, which explores the science of perfect timing. Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the work day, and the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is, when you are most energetic and lethargic each day). Interest piqued?

One concept in particular made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings. Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me this year, eek!), the tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging our best relationships. The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful. The book references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition, making us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time, because we’ve connected with something special.

Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying. A beautiful example on how to do this, is sending a message to your future self. This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.

This proposition made me a little teary. What would I tell my future self?

I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on). I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things. I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly). There should be dogs, everywhere. And music, plus adventure. I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others. That’s all served me well so far. I would include a quote seen online from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect: ‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.

This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023, but hopefully I’ll be proud. Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made; or by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome or being faced.

When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, and that is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives. ‘Living in the moment’ is all the rage (and it’s no secret that I fly the mindfulness flag, it’s important). However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future. This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self (whether we are talking five years down the line, or just a couple of weeks), and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.

‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it. I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.

Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…

How do you see it? Share in the comments below.

Read the March 2018 issue of Get it Magazine here