The route from Novara to Erbusco in Northern Italy offers travellers the opportunity to visit some of the country’s oldest and most picturesque towns while touring the breathtaking beauty of its world-renowned lakes.
Begin your journey in Milan, Italy’s most fashionable city. Though it is rich in history, this cosmopolitan metropolis is filled with modern energy. From the Duomo to San Siro football stadium and trendy restaurants to Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Milan captivates Northern Italy’s timeless style.
Depart from Milan to tour Italy’s spectacular Lake District. Take the A8/E62 partial toll road northwest to Soriso Novara, beyond which lies Lake Orta and its Isola San Giulio. It was here, at the Basilica of San Guilio, where Salomé famously refused the love of Nietsche, inspiring him to write Thus Spake Zarathustra. Take a moment to reflect in the black stone pulpit of this Romanesque masterpiece then retire to the tranquility of the lake below. Fishing enthusiasts will find Lake Orta home to trout, perch, pike and even eels.
If you wish to rest for the night, try Villa Crespi in Orta San Giulio. Its scrumptious cuisine and fantastic views are sure to make your stay memorable. A morning visit to the pedestrian city center of Orta San Giulio provides the perfect opportunity to stretch your legs before continuing on your journey. Wander the pebbled paths around Piazza Motta or visit Sacro Monte — a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Via Panoramica, just a five-minute walk from Villa Crespi.
From here take the opportunity to continue north on SP229 towards Lake Maggiore and the Barromean Islands. Explore the resplendent isles on a boat tour and behold Isola Bella’s stunning Baroque palace and gardens, which took form over a period of 400 years. Or simply enjoy the peaceful Isola dei Pescatori. With its fresh seafood restaurants and only 50 residents, the island is most remarkable at night when its lights reflect in the calm water.
Refreshed for your journey, travel south on E62 towards Lake Como. Perhaps the most well known of Northern Italy’s lakes, Lake Como’s glistening shoreline is strewn with charming villages and holiday resorts overlooking the water. Its beauty has delighted visitors for centuries and inspired the verse of world-famous poets such as William Wordsworth. Today it offers its idyllic landscape to photographers and artists from around the world. Meander through the hills on broad hiking paths or enjoy the water with boat trips and aquatic activities. After documenting your stay with this unrivalled backdrop, proceed southeast on SS342 to historic Bergamo.
Situated at the base of the Alps, Bergamo dates back to Roman times and consists of two parts: an Upper Town (Città Alta) and Lower Town (Città Bassa). Originally a defensive hilltop protected by walls, Upper Town contains the city’s most historic buildings. Modern-day Bergamo offers a wealth of activities to tourists interested in art, history, sports and culture. Spend the day before continuing east on the A4/E64 toll road to Erbusco. Along the way, turn off the E64 in Brusaporto for culinary delights from the Cerea brothers at Da Vittorio. Only a few kilometres off your path, this national gourmet destination is sure to please your palate, and its boutique hotel is a perfect place to relax before continuing along.
Farther east on the E64 and just 10 km south of Lake Iseo lays Erbusco, in the famed Franciacorta wine region. The small town is surrounded by hamlets speckled with ancient buildings and stunning manors among walnut trees, acacias and oaks. Sip on your choice of sparkling wines while touring Erbusco’s elite vineyards and enjoying delectable Italian cuisine. Then slip into dreams at the neo-Renaissance L’Albereta Relais & Châteaux in the heart of Franciacorta’s vineyards.
The following morning, make your way to Brescia by way of Lake Iseo. The Madonna della Ceriola sanctuary atop Monte Isola offers panoramic views of the lake and Bergamo Alps, while locals dwell in the timeless fishing villages below. With memories in hand, continue south to Brescia, which was once a Gallic capital and still boasts several ancient buildings. Do not miss Tempio Capitolino — Roman ruins from the first century. Brescia is also a perfect place to stay while exploring nearby Lake Garda. Stroll through Brescia’s grand piazzas and visit its churches and museums to discover its many artistic treasures. You are sure to return to Milan with treasured memories of your own after experiencing the splendour of Northern Italy’s Lake District.
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