Designer boutiques, Gothic cathedrals and medieval fortresses: Milan has culture and tissue-paper-lined carrier bags in abundance. By night, performers in the Teatro alla Scala belt out arias and pirouette past lavish sets; by day, take a scented stroll through the bloom-packed botanical gardens, and window-gaze at the well-heeled shops of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Lake Como lies just outside the city; have lunch at a waterside café and try to (slyly) spot celebs roaming their villas on the banks. Swish down the slopes in charming Livigno, or visit the region’s charming, lesser-known towns dotted with honey-hued basilicas and cobbled squares. The region has a romantic literary legacy too – Shakespeare put the ‘bard’ in Lombardy (well, sort of) when he set scenes from Romeo and Juliet in Mantua’s Unesco-recognised old town.
When to go
Lombardy’s climate is typically Italian: pushing 30 degrees celsius in summer, and plummeting to single digits in winter. Unless you’re heading to the mountains for snowy pursuits, visit between March and October.
PlanesBudget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair run regular flights from London to Milan-Malpensa Airport.
TrainsMilan’s Centrale train station is a convenient hub, with trains frequently arriving from Florence, Rome, Venice and other Italian cities. It’s also easy to get to from Switzerland, if you’ve got time to spare: the train from Zurich takes around eight hours.
AutomobilesIf you’re up to braving Italy’s busy streets and honking mopeds, rent a motor from one of the many car-hire booths at the airport.