I have been living in Italy for five years now and in that time I have managed to fit in my fair share of traveling and experiences. My travel list started off much like everyone else’s Italy bucket list – I wanted to see Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence & Pisa.
Those places were undeniably amazing but the longer I have lived in Italy the more I have discovered the real gems of this country are the places less known of, the places you have to search for, or that involve a degree of adventure. It’s in these moments that you see the real Italy. The Italy with a big heart and amazing food that welcomes you in like a long-lost family member. It’s here that you discover the true magic of Italy.
If you want to experience a little of that (and why wouldn’t you?!) then here are my top 6 unique places to travel in Northern Italy. Maybe you can try and squeeze some in on your next visit to Milan, Venice or Florence…
The region of Parma is known for its incredible food – specifically, it’s hams, cheeses and olive oil. The best time to visit is in November when the Fall food festivals are in full swing and you can combine a morning of city sightseeing with a local foodie festival. We combined our visit with ‘November Pork’ a festival which celebrates food from local farms including cheeses, home-made pasta, wine and of course ham, salami, and pork.
November Pork Food Festival
Located only an hour from Milan on the train, Lake Como is a perfect place to escape from the city and pass a day relaxing by the water. Take a boat ride across the lake to visit the beautiful villa’s of old Italian aristocracy (Villa Carlotta & Villa del Balbianello were our favorites) or get lost walking around one of the little villages dotted along the lake’s edge.
Arguably one of the more touristy locations, Verona is definitely still worth a visit. Take a local bike or walking tour around the city and explore the huge selection of ancient Roman architecture and Renaissance art. Visit the Amphitheater and Juliette’s (of Romeo & Juliette) balcony and then finish your day at an open-air restaurant in one of Verona’s beautiful plazas.
Verona City Skyline
Located between Verona & Venice, Lake Garda is a beautiful, tranquil spot with little villages lining to the shore of the lake. Two places worth visiting are Peschiera del Garda and Sirmione where you can spend a day walking around cobbled streets, taking boat rides on the lake and eating seafood in sunny plazas.
Sirmione Ancient City Walls
Another place to visit during the Fall, Alba comes alive through the month of November for the International Truffle Festival. Plan your visit so you can spend a day exploring the exhibition, tasting the truffles and visiting local deli and wine stores. Then finish up by visiting vineyards and farm-based restaurants in the surrounding countryside to experience truffle eating at its best.
Alba Truffle Festival
Torino is an elegant and characteristic city 120km north of Milan. The city has a more local feel but still offers lots of museums, churches, restaurants and sunny plazas so you can get your culture fix. Top spots include the Mole Antonelliana & Film Museum and The Egyptian Museum.
Are you planning a trip to Northern Italy? Let me know where you are thinking about going in the comments below…
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