First inhabited by the Etruscans, who were overtaken by Celts, Lombardia, which takes its name from a Germanic tribe (Lombards), became a Roman province in the 2C. BC.

Modern Lombardia is a fascinating blend of Milano, a large urban metropolis and one of the world's leading international fashion-design centers; and Cremona, a small city with a five-hundred year tradition of making the world's finest stringed instruments (Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari).

The northern reaches of Lombardia contain the famous lake regions around Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como. No visit to this area is complete without a taste of Stresa and Isola Bella (Lago Maggiore) and sampling the shoreline of Lago di Como at Bellagio and Como.

Milano, the regional capital of Lombardia and Italia's largest city, is home to La Scala, perhaps the world's most famous opera house. In addition to the Duomo, a cathedral five-hundred years in the making, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, arguably the world's oldest and grandest shopping mall, Milano is a treasure box.

South and east from Milano lay the Lombard cities of Pavia (capital under Lombard rule), Bergamo (muse to Shakespeare, Debussy and Donizetti), and Mantova (Mantua-the setting for Verdi's opera Rigoletto). On the periphery of Milano, the city of Monza hosts an icon of Formula 1 auto racing. In the 1920’s the Automobile Club of Milan built one of the first racetracks in Europe in Monza’s Parco Reale (Royal Park), the largest enclosed park in Europe. The Formula 1 circuit races yearly in Monza.

Como, at the southern tip of Lago di Como, and the garland of cities that are graciously spaced along the lakeshore such as Bellagio (Villa Meltzi), Menaggio, Cernobbio (Villa Erba)and Tremezzo (Villa Carlotta) have an old world elegance that dates to the 1st C Roman Empire. Steam driven paddleboats, Piroscafo Concordia, still make the rounds daily.

The Piazza del Commune in Cremona is recognized as one of the most beautiful in all of Italia. Towering high above the Duomo (Cathedral), and the Baptistery, both dating to the 12th C., floats the bell tower, Torrazzo. The 487 steps to the top, at more than 300 feet tall the Torrazzo (Big Tower) is the tallest in Italia, will reward you with an unforgettable vantage point.