Northern Italy : Culture, Beauty & Wine
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Turin, known as ‘Torino’ in Italian, lies beside a scenic stretch of the River Po, presided over by the towering peaks of the breathtakingly beautiful snowy Alps. This favourable spot led the famous architect Le Corbusier to describe Turin as ‘the city with the most beautiful natural location in the world’. The capital city of northern Italy’s Piedmont region, Turin has become synonymous with cutting edge food, art, design and innovation, weaving a rich bohemian, esoteric history with progressive creativity. The wide, stately portico-lined boulevards, fascinating museums, elegant arcades and genteel belle epoque cafes are the perfect stomping ground for travellers seeking a unique and authentic Italian experience away from the hordes of tourists so often associated with Italian travel.
Cuneo is situated in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. This attractive destination will appeal to cultural lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, with some great sights and near-lying attractions. The only place to begin is the historic city square, known as Centro Storico, home to buildings adorned with galleria arches, providing beautiful walkways lined with cafes and boutique stores. Other key sights include Piazza Galimberti, which is surrounded by historic architecture; the ornate church of Chiesa di Sant’Ambrogio; and the Museo Diocesano Cuneo – San Sebastiano, a gallery housing religious works. Outdoor lovers meanwhile can cycle and hike in Parco Fluviale Gesso e Stura, or – for more of a challenge – try the peak of Colle Fauniera, which is reached after negotiating the tough Colle dei Morti (Pass of the Dead).
Set against the backdrop of the Italian Alps, La Morra, is a picturesque hilltop town that offers magnificent views of the rolling vineyards, villages, castles and towers of the famous winemaking region of Langhe, Piedmont in northern Italy. The town features quaint little villages within its territory, namely Annunziata, Berri, Rivalta and Santa Maria. A stroll along this stunning medieval town transports visitors back in time as they view gorgeous historic landmarks flanking the cobblestone streets, such as the Church of San Sebastiano, the Torre Campanaria di La Morra tower, and the church of San Martino. Lovers of Italian cuisine can indulge in the many cafes, bars, and restaurants across town, taste and buy wine in the Communal Cellar and see the Ratti Wine Museum at Annunziata.
Surrounded by lush, dense woodlands in Piedmont, Lake Orta is one of the best-kept secrets in all of Italy; beguiling and undeniably romantic. Known by locals as ‘Cinderella’, for being underrated in comparison to sister lakes Como and Maggiore, Lake Orta has a quiet, mystical charm that remains yet untainted by mass tourism. The jewel in Lake Orta’s crown is undoubtedly the tiny, enchanting, oval-shaped island of San Giulio, a medieval village home to an awe-inspiring, ancient basilica with a magnificent 12th-century pulpit carved out of serpentine, and a 19th Century seminary steeped in legendary tales of dragons and magic. Take a leisurely bike ride around the lake, go on a boat trip, or relax on the soft sands of the lake’s Miami Beach.
The vibrant metropolis, Milan, it the capital of Italy’s Lombardy region, in northern Italy. Always at the forefront of international fashion, Milan’s sophisticated glitzy facade has afforded it a reputation for superficiality and excessive consumerism. However, beneath its exterior hides a treasure trove of historical and architectural delights: from its glorious Gothic churches, Baroque mansions and Art Nouveau palazzos, to the striking, modern skyscrapers of the Porta Nuova financial district. Must-see sites include the spectacular Duomo Cathedral, the glass-vaulted Galleria, and of course La Scala, one of the world’s most famous opera houses. Milan caters for a broad range of interests: those in search of some glorious designer retail therapy will be well sated, but so too will those looking for fascinating historical sites and remarkable architectural marvels.
Orta San Giulio
Fondly known to be one of the most picturesque towns in the Italian region of Piedmont, Orta San Giulio is idyllically set overlooking the magical Lake Orto. Home to towering greenery and delightful cobble-stone streets lined with ornate buildings, this awe-inspiring destination is a must on any northern Italian itinerary. Must-see attractions include: the Sacro Monte di Orta, a Roman Catholic devotional complex set amidst lush gardens; the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, known for its striking yellow facade; and the Piazza Mario Motto, a scenic strip home to a plethora of delightful cafes surrounded by beautiful colourful houses. Orta San Giulio serves as the gateway to the enchanting Isola San Giulio - an alluring island dominated by the magical 12th-century Basilica di San Giulio, full of vibrant frescoes.