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Six things to do with children in Lombardy
An outing with children in Lombardy? Here are some tips, including sensory trails, Indiana Jones-style adventures and school farms. From the Tactile Museum in Varese to the Grosio Rock Engraving Park in Valtellina.
1. To the Tactile Museum in Varese, where it is forbidden NOT to touch
In museums throughout the world, it is forbidden to touch, but not in this museum. Because finding out about the world through touch is an extraordinary learning opportunity. So much so that you visit the Villa Baragiola Museum blindfolded. The exhibits include a great collection of wooden models, a kind of three-dimensional encyclopaedia you can browse with your hands. The experience continues with installations and multi-sensory trails where children and adults can have fun seeing how the senses speak a special language that teaches us more about all aspects of reality.
2. Make like Indiana Jones, between pyramids and graffiti
Are there pyramids in Lombardy? Yes, created by nature, not humans They rise high over the town of Zone on Lake Iseo: columns shaped by erosion to look like a forest of smooth pyramids that can be visited in a one-hour excursion. In the town of Biadronno, on the West Bank of Lake Varese, you can don the guise of Indiana Jones on the Isoletta Virginia. This UNESCO heritage site is the ancient prehistoric site with pile dwellings (palafitte) in the Italian Alps. While there, you can wander round the Prehistoric Museum or take part in archaeological workshops and a treasure hunt. There are also excavation workshops in the Grosio Rock Engraving Park in Valtellina. An imposing cliff near two castles bears more than 5000 figures that were engraved between the Neolithic and Iron Ages. Children will love looking for animal shapes.
3. Go back to nature in Valle Sabbia
Parco delle Fucine di Casto located between Val Trompia and Valle Sabbia follows a circular route for a total of 1700 m including tarmac pathways, climbing walls, trekking paths, mountain bike trails, Tibetan bridges, an incredible canyon produced by rock erosion, cable ways and hiking trails. This is also a good starting point for visiting Lake Idro, which is the highest lake in Lombardy at 370 m in altitude. In spring and summer, don’t miss Rocca d’Anfo, a Napoleonic fortification with Venetian walls and a spectacular Torre della Lunetta. In autumn, it is fun to cycle round it on an ebike.
4. A haul of chestnuts, from Brianza to Passo San Marco
Once upon a time chestnuts fed the hungry. They were used to make flower and dye fabrics. This “ bread that grows on trees” was Manna from heaven, dried in minuscule fairy-tale boxes called “essiccatoi”. You can hunt for them among the leaves in Montevecchia Regional Park and Valle del Curone in south-western Brianza as well as in Valtellina, above Morbegno near the San Marco Pass. They also grow in Valle Intelvi in the Como area, where tradition has it that you slip the first chestnut you find in your pocket to protect yourself against the cold!
5. Walking the Adda, on foot or by bike
You can tell your kids that pens, pinafores and notebooks were free in the Crespi D’Adda workers village school near Bergamo. We can only imagine how many of those pencils must have sketched the model village, built alongside the textile mill along the river Adda. The Crespi family cotton industry magnates designed the workers houses with allotments and gardens. This unique place is now a World Heritage Site. After a tour of the village you can walk or cycle up to Trezzo, along the river on the unsurfaced bike track that leads to the Taccani powerplant and the ruins of a castle owned by the Visconti family of Milan.
6. Learning about flavour on the farm
Lombardy has over 200 school farms where children can have experiences that are impossible in the city. They can walk with ducks, cuddle rabbits and ride on donkeys It is like going back to a lost world, a place where soap was made from ashes and cheese from fresh milk. The teaching farms welcome schools, but also families and groups of children who learn about the food cycle, animal and plant life, farming trades and the local area to make them better-informed consumers who are more respectful of the environment.
You can find all the addresses here