Milan Fashion Week may be over but there are still plenty of reasons to visit the city – and they don’t even include George Clooney. Here are some ideas of where to go when you’ve had your fill of the center.
Cremona’s not only a stunning medieval little town, with cobbled streets and picture perfect brick buildings on the banks of the Po river; it’s the home of the Stradivarius and Guarneri violin makers, and you can see both in the little museum in the town center. It also has the second highest brick belltower in Europe. Just try climbing it!
Ok, when we said our day trips don’t include George Clooney, we lied. His palazzo, the Villa Oleandra sits on the lakeside in the village of Laglio but there’s plenty to see besides his hangers on. Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley called it the most beautiful place he’d ever seen – kick off in Lecco, the main town on the shore.
Another of the lakes north of Milan, Garda – the biggest lake in Italy – is gorgeous. From the stately town of Gardone Riviera to the fortified village of Sirmione, you can’t go wrong. Don’t miss the Grotte di Catullo (Catullus’ caves) at Sirmione – the remains of a Roman spa (and, by chance, the poet Catullus lived here) – or the Vittoriale at Gardone Riviera, which is the stately home owned by early 20th century poet and national eccentric, Gabriele d’Annunzio.
There may be better places to stay overnight as a tourist (it wasn’t on the Grand Tour, after all) but Turin definitely merits a day trip, and it’s only two hours from Milan on the train. The famous shroud may not be permanently displayed, but you can go on an Italian Job pilgrimage, visit the Car Museum (old F1 cars and Ferraris) and take a boat ride down the river Po. And, for once in Italy, as a tourist you’ll be in the minority.
Yes, it sounds crazy but on the high speed Eurostar Frecciarossa trains, you can get from Milan to Florence in as little as 1hr 45min. So you can overload your senses with a day’s worth of sightseeing and then get back on the train up north – or stay overnight, and see how much you can pack into two days (hint: don’t miss the Fra Angelico frescos at the San Marco monastery).