If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Lombardy region of northern Italy. This beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Some parts of Lombardy are relatively undiscovered by tourists. This article presents Lombardy outside the capital Milan or the beautiful Lake districts, described in companion articles in this series.

Over the millennia Lombardy has been in the hands of numerous invaders from the Etruscans and the Gauls, to the Spaniards and the Lombards, among others. They all left their mark.

The internationally known University of Pavia was founded in 1361 and is still going strong. Visit Pavia’s Fourteenth Century Visconteo Castle now home to the Municipal Museum filled with great paintings and archeological material. The Cathedral’s dome is the third largest in Italy. Pavia’s number one attraction is the Fifteenth Century Charterhouse of Pavia monastery, north of the city.

The city of Cremona, population about seventy thousand, was settled over two thousand years ago. It was home to Stradivari, the world’s greatest violin maker. Actually the violin was invented in Cremona a long time before Stradivari was born. Today one finds over 50 violinmakers in Cremona, plus an International School of Violin Making and Stradivarius Museum.

Mantua is a city of some fifty thousand. Romeo fled to Mantua after killing Juliet’s cousin in a swordfight. The 500-room Palazzo Ducale was built between the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Its centerpiece, the Wedding Chamber room took seven years to paint. When you see it, you’ll know why. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling.

The Sixteenth Century suburban Palazzo Te is one of the greatest Renaissance palaces. Make sure to see Cupid and Psyche’s Room showing a wedding with interesting and unusual guests. Its walls contain Seventeenth Century graffiti.

Cremona is known for Mostarda, mustard flavored candied fruits that accompany Bollito Misto, mixed boiled meats. A local version includes calf’s head, veal tongue, and pig’s foot. Take a look at out companion article I Love Touring Italy – Small Town Lombardy for a sample menu and more information on Lombardy wines plus an in-depth examination of its tourist attractions. The area’s best-known wine is the Oltrepo Pavese DOC grown south of Pavia, across the Po River, hence its name. This wine is made in multiple styles from multiple grape varieties. It is said to be the most popular wine in Milan.

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If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Lombardy region of northern Italy. This beautiful area might be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food, and wash it down with fine local wine. Some parts of Lombardy are relatively undiscovered by tourists. This...