Off-the-beaten-track but oh-so-rich in history and art, from Sarnico to Sabbioneta, here is a list of small wonders that are perfect for day-trip visits
4 Jan 2021
Small villages nestled by lakes and rivers, medieval towns rich in history, packed with art treasures great and small... Lombardy’s many hidden villages are still unknown to most people, off the tourist track whatever the season. This is exactly why they make such a perfect choice for anyone seeking a relaxing break to discover the many hidden delights in this region. Here is a selection of our favorites, all within quick and easy reach.
An urban treasure rebuilt by the Gonzaga family in Renaissance style, Sabbioneta is one of Europe’s “ideal cities” that has earned UNESCO heritage site status. You feel this heritage in the streets, views and buildings, clearly demonstrating the famous Renaissance theories of perspective and proportions that give the town its harmony and elegance. An example? Stand in the centre of Piazza Ducale and enjoy perfect 360-degree perspectives along the city’s main arcaded streets.
Located in the heart of the Po Valley, one of Lombardy’s best-preserved walled towns, Pizzighettone, has retained significant parts of its imposing defensive system: traces of the castle, casemates behind the ancient walls, the ravelin guarding the road to Cremona, ramparts and the Gera embankments… All architectural gems you can admire simply by walking or biking around town.
Overlooking famous Lake Como, Menaggio is a veritable treasure trove that lies along the lake’s western shore, one that makes an ideal jumping point for all kinds of excursions: by boat, to visit the beautiful villas along the central lakefront with their lovely gardens; by bus or car, to discover the valleys, their rural settlements and small Romanesque churches; and on foot or by mountain bike, to explore the trails in the Val Sanagra Park, an extensive protected area near Menaggio. When in Menaggio, don’t miss the lakeside promenade, old town and lido.
Overlooking another lake, Lake Iseo, Sarnico is a village that has retained its semi-circular medieval structure, encircled by age-old walls and backing onto the mountain. Sarnico has long been a favorite destination for local tourism, attracting people who enjoy a short break in a hidden, off-the-beaten-track location. Sarnico is a great place to enjoy a pleasant walk along the lakefront or a wander through the old town, with its many stores, amenities and delightful views.
Where to stay in Milan
Staying in Milan for a few days is the ideal solution for discovering Lombardy’s hidden villages. Gruppo UNA offers you a variety of solutions: Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze, a stone’s throw from the Duomo, is in an exquisitely-restored historic building, full of Italian charm and detailing; UNAHOTELS Century Milano is a stone’s throw from Milano Centrale Station and Porta Nuova; and UNAHOTELS Cusani Milano, between the Duomo and Castello Sforzesco, is perfect for exploring the historic heart of town.