Lombardy Belvederes and Vistas
Scene from above. Milan, Upper Bergamo, Brescia, the lakes. Towers, castles, belvederes. Discover the most beautiful views of Lombardy
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, master of the Grand Tour, told travellers that the first thing they should do when arriving in a new place was to find a hill or tower from which to admire the view.
From that height one can take in the beauty of a city, a valley, a lake or the course of a river in its entirety. Since Lombardy is mostly flat, it only takes a dozen metres to gain a privileged viewpoint.
For example Milan, unlike Rome, does not have seven hills from which to admire its “Great Beauty”, but during a clear day one can admire the city’s skyline and surrounding valleys and Alps from one of the nearby mountains.
The roof of Milan’s Duomo, a popular place to visit with tourists and locals alike, has traditionally been the city’s “urban balcony”. Amongst the jungle of stone steeples visitors can clearly make out the city’s landmarks: to the south the Velasca Tower, the imposing skyscraper that resembles a medieval keep; next to it the outline of the Sforza Castle, and in the background the grandiose San Siro Stadium; to the north the unmistakable Pirelli Tower and the recently built Porta Nuova skyscrapers, in the background the peaks of the Grigne and the Resegone; to the north-west, along Corso Sempione one can see the Citylife skyscrapers. Park Tower, also known as Branca Tower, the slight tower made of steel tubes designed by Giò Ponti and Cesare Chiodi, stands out against the greenery of Parco Sempione.
The tower gives visitors the best view of the park, the Arena Civica, including the Acquarium, Arco della Pace and the castle. A newer “urban balcony” which gives visitors a unique view of the city’s skyline is the Prada Observatory that occupies the fifth and sixth floors of the Prada Foundation in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, overlooking the octagon and the iron-glass structures designed by Giuseppe Mengoni.
From the height of the Torrazzo in Cremona, the second tallest bell tower in Italy at 110 metres, looming over the red roofs of the buildings in Stradivari’s hometown, visitors can admire the Po and its valley. Another famous tower that serves as a perfect “urban balcony” is the Bramante Tower in Vigevano. Its terraces, located just below the belfry, offer the best view of that gem of Renaissance architecture that is Piazza Ducale, and of the Sforza Castle.
From the chemin de ronde of the Venetian Walls, which enclose Bergamo’s upper town, visitors can admire the view of the surrounding valley which stretches from Milan to Brescia all the way to the slopes of the Bergamo Alps. The hill of Brescia Castle, offers a unique view of the town’s historical centre, with its remnants of the Roman Empire and the stunning medieval complex of religious buildings now grouped together as the Santa Giulia Museum, and, beyond the confines of the city’s boundaries, the pre-alpine valleys.
The view from the top of the 844m high Sacro Monte in Varese, which can also be reached by the historical cable railway, is priceless.Just a few metres above, on the terraces of Campo dei Fiori’s famous observatory, visitors can enjoy views of Monte Rosa massif and Lake Maggiore.
The belvedere of Brunate located in the heart of Como is also accessible via cable railway and offers spectacular views of the Lake Lario, the Alps and the surrounding valleys. After crossing the Intelvi valley to reach the Sighignola belvedere, on the border between Italy and Switzerland, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking view of the Ticino Alps and of Lake Lugano.Another amazing view of the Resegone mountain, the town of Lecco, and the river Adda’s outlet from Lake Como towards the valley, is from Pian dei Resinelli, in the foothills of the Grigne mountains.
Heading towards Lake Garda one of the best views is offered by the Tignale upland and the town of Tremosine, in the province of Brescia, dotted with colourful lemon groves, an unusual feature this far north in Italy. And for those who want to admire the beauty of the night sky there is the Piazzi Observatory, located in the heart of the Alps, in Ponte Valtellina in the province of Sondrio.