Everyone loves Italy. The opinion is so widespread, we can practically call it fact. For many, Italy is the bucket list destination. For even more, it’s the I-can’t-wait-to-return spot. At Experi, we love the popular cities of Rome and Florence, and we visit both landmark cities in our meandering trip through Tuscany. We also love the lesser-known towns, villages, and vineyards of Northern Italy, whose rustic countryside and distinct cuisine can’t be missed.
From Brescia to Verona. From valleys of vineyards to Italian lakes. Read on so we can whet your appetite and give you a taste of what you can experience in Northern Italy. Don’t forget to check out our other Journal features on this region, including our Top 5 Tastes and an in-depth look into delicious tortellini.
Art and history around every corner
You can’t talk about the art, history, and culture of Northern Italy without mentioning Verona. Located on the Adige river, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is now home to over 250,000 residents. It’s the setting for three of Shakespeare’s plays — Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, and most famously, Romeo and Juliet. This is a major draw for many wanting to set foot in, arguably, one of the most romantic places on earth.
Verona is also filled with ancient architecture like the Verona Arena, busy squares like Piazza Bra, and medieval churches like San Zeno Basilica. Verona is just one example of the culturally rich cities and towns of Northern Italy, where you can’t take a walk without stepping into history.
Subtle white wines
We love Amarone, which is a dry, red wine from Northern Italy. However, this region is the place for some spectacular white wines. The most beloved is definitely the medium-bodied and acidic Pinot Grigio. Other white wines that grow widely in Northern Italy are Chardonnay, Moscato, and Gewürztraminer.
You may have heard of Lake Como because of the many celebrities who own villas along its waters, including George Clooney and Madonna. This glacial lake is one of the deepest in Italy and all of Europe, measuring 1,300 feet at its deepest. Several small towns sit on the lake, including Como, Lecco, Bellagio, Menaggio, and Lierna.
This is the largest lake in Italy, and its perfect location between Brescia and Verona have made it a popular destination for holidays. Like Lake Como, Garda was also formed by glaciers. Surrounding the lake are an assortment of quaint and charming towns, including the fortified town of Sirmione. We visit Sirmione in our trip to Northern Italy, spending time touring the Grottos of Catullus and enjoying authentic flavors during dinner. Other towns, like Riva and Torbole, are great launching points for water activities, like boating, sailing, and windsurfing.
Though Lake Iseo is smaller than Como and Garda, it’s a great one to see because of its surrounding wineries, towns, and its island, Monte Isola, which you can reach by ferry. Medieval towns of Iseo and Sarnico sit on the lake’s waters, and offer a variety of historic churches, squares, and castles to explore.
So much rich food
One of the most beloved parts of Northern Italy is its food. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, polenta, tortellini, casconcelli, Ragu Bolonese. The list goes on and on. A favorite dish coming from Milan is called Cotoletta alla Milanese or Veal Milanese. This simple dish is similar to the German Wiener Schnitzel, and is breaded veal cutlet fried in butter.