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Seven things to do at Christmas in Lombardy

Art, nature, food and shopping. At Christmas in Lombardy there is truly something for all tastes. From major exhibitions in Milan to the delicacies of Cremona and Lodi, from the markets of Bergamo to the charm of Lake Como and its mountains, from the museums of Brescia to Villa Reale in Monza and the gardens of Varese, discover seven things to do at Christmas in Lombardy with us!

 

MILAN AND ITS MAJOR EXHIBITIONS
Christmas holidays with art as the watchword? Milan, with its festive decorations, with its major exhibitions, is the right place for you. At Palazzo Reale, the masterpieces of the Thannhauser Collection, with works ranging from Van Gogh to Picasso, and the exhibition devoted to the genius of Giorgio De Chirico. Lovers of sculpture absolutely must see the two exhibitions devoted to Antonio Canova: one, at the GAM [Galleria d’Arte Moderna], with the search for beauty in “ideal faces”, the other at the Gallerie d’Italia in an unprecedented comparison with Thorvaldsen. One treasure not to be missed is the Madonna Litta, the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci that is on display exceptionally at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Finally, for the “Christmas Exhibition”, this year the masterpiece to be admired at Palazzo Marino is “The Annunciation” by Filippino Lippi.

 

LAKE COMO, AMID VILLAS AND MOUNTAINS
Between culture and nature, Lake Como is magical in winter. A suggestion? Go to Como, which becomes a genuine “City of Toys” for the festive season filled with lights and colours, thanks to the Magic Light Festival, and then visit magnificent villas such as Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlotta in Tremezzina, Villa Olmo in Como or Villa Monastero in Varenna. The more sporty among you can try the ski runs of the Valsassina (Lecco). The most famous? At Piani di Bobbio. For lovers of snowshoes we recommend a trip between Alpe Giumello and Monte Muggio, from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Como.

 

BERGAMO AND THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS 
Looking for Christmas gifts? Then a day shopping in Bergamo is a must for you. There are two Christmas markets in the city: one the Villaggio di Natale in Piazzale Alpini, the other the Christmas Village in Piazza Dante. And to breathe the real atmosphere of Christmas you can have a ride on the new Ferris wheel in front of Palazzo Frizzoni. While out of town, in Val Seriana, you can take a trip around the markets of Castione, at the foot of Mount Presolana, or, if you are with your children, to the Santa Claus House in little Gromo.

 

CREMONA AND LODI, A TRIUMPH OF FLAVOURS
At Christmas, as we all know, food is the major protagonist. For Christmas holidays that are all about taste, Lodi and Cremona are the perfect destinations. In Lodi you absolutely must try raspadura, extra-thin slices of Granone Lodigiano cheese, with a good glass of San Colombano wine. Torrone [nougat] is the Cremonese sweet par excellence: it can never be missing on the table during Christmas parties! Another typical product of the Cremona area is mustard, which is perfect to accompany Bollito Misto stew.

 

VILLA REALE IN MONZA AND ITS TREASURES
Everyone knows the beautiful Villa Reale in Monza, but how many also know the secrets contained in its rooms? The Christmas holidays are perfect for a trip inside the villa. Treasures of great value can be discovered, such as, on the Primo Piano Nobile [The First Main Floor], the ballroom with its decorations on the vaults and walls, faux marble wall panels, opulent chandeliers and Venetian flooring. Or the royal apartments of Umberto I and Queen Margherita, where there are also period furnishings.

 

BRESCIA AND ITS MUSEUMS
A cultural trip during the Christmas holidays? Then go to Brescia! In fact, from 24 to 31 December, the Brescia’s Civic Museums are open and the entry is free. Absolutely worth a visit are the two Unesco sites in the city centre: the monastic complex of Santa Giulia with the “Museum of the city” and the archaeological area of Roman Brixia. Those who love art can discover the masterpieces of the Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo. In the Castle there are also two museums: the Museum of Weapons and the Museum of the Risorgimento. Finally, in the ward of Sant'Eufemia, there is the Mille Miglia Museum, devoted to the famous period automobile race.

 

VARESE, THE “GARDEN CITY”
Varese is known as the “Garden City” on account of its villas with their beautiful parks, which are even more enchanting in the magical atmosphere of Christmas. Among the historic buildings not to be missed there is the eighteenth-century Palazzo Estense (which today houses the Municipal Hall) with its beautiful Italian-style gardens, Villa Mirabello in Tudor style, the site of the Civic Museums, and its English-style gardens, Villa Panza and its contemporary art collection and the eclectic Villa Toeplitz with its park, which is numbered among the ten most beautiful in Italy. To conclude a trip to the city perfectly, go to the Varese Xmas Village to breathe the atmosphere of Christmas along the streets of the festively decorated centre.

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