586 Chapters
Medium 9782067181977

LOMBARDY

Michelin Michelin ePub

LOMBARDY

Wine is only one of the many things this region has to be proud of. Grapes have been cultivated in Lombardy since earliest times: archaeological finds of Vitis vinifera silvestris near Lakes Iseo and Garda dating to the Bronze Age demonstrate that the vine has been present in Lombardy since prehistory. Viticulture here has also benefited from the contributions of ancient peoples, like the Reti from the north, and the Etruscans and Liguri to the south. It was probably the latter who introduced terracing to Valtellina, which is in fact very similar to the type seen in Cinque Terre. In the 19th-c. the land under vine cultivation was much greater than today as many zones in the provinces of Varese, Como, Lecco and Milan, where today the vineyards are limited, used to produce wine in abundance.

Orderly rows of vines in autumn

Kuelcue/SHUTTERSTOCK

The terroir

An important wine-producing area in Lombardy is the Valtellina in the province of Sondrio, a zone where viticulture is considered “heroic” due to the difficulties posed by working on its steep, rugged terrain. Nebbiolo is the main variety grown, from which the great red wines Valtellina, Valtellina Superiore and Sforzato di Valtellina are produced.

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Medium 9781628871180

4 Amsterdam

Sasha Heseltine FrommerMedia ePub

4

AMSTERDAM

Open-hearted, welcoming, and prosperous, Amsterdam is a good-time city that merrily opens its arms to all comers. It embraces its tourists, its cyclists, its boat-folk, and its multi-cultural community. It is friendly, unflappable, and approachable; a city confident in its own skin but with one eye fixed on the future, buzzing with creativity and bonhomie.

But it is also a city of surreal juxtapositions; an elegant cityscape of 165 waterways, 1,280 bridges, and thousands of venerable 17th-century mansions exist side by side with the sleazy alleyways of the Red Light District. A city with some of the most impressive art museums in the world that tolerates sex clubs and dope smoking; that has one of Europe’s best concert halls but also a gritty nighttime scene springing up around Westerpark and NDSM-Wharf; and a city that offers Michelin-starred restaurants alongside grungy brown cafes.

It’s a long-outdated cliché to regard Amsterdam as some sort of latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah, for the winds of change are blowing through the streets. Tolerance may be embedded deeply in the Dutch psyche, but even the most open-minded of people can run out of patience. The very existence of Amsterdam’s notorious coffee shops and red-light haunts is now threatened as the city fathers toil to improve its quality of life; druggie haunts have been closed down as have some of the prostitutes’ infamous windows, and smart restaurants, bars, and upmarket independent stores are starting to move in to the pretty side streets of the Rosse Buurt (Red Light District), which ironically hides some of the most unspoiled architecture in Amsterdam.

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Medium 9781628872583

6 MANTUA (MANTOVA)

Schoenung, Michelle FrommerMedia ePub

A nightscape of Mantua.

One of Lombardy’s best-kept secrets, Mantua is in the eastern reaches of the region, making it an easy side trip from Milan. Like its neighboring cities in Emilia-Romagna, Mantua owes its beautiful Renaissance monuments to one family, in this case the Gonzagas, who conquered the city in 1328 and ruled benevolently until 1707. They were avid collectors of art and ruled through the greatest centuries of Italian art; encounter the treasures they collected in the massive Palazzo Ducale; in their summer retreat, the Palazzo Te; and in the churches and piazzas that grew up around their court.

The Palazzo Ducale, the Galleria Museo Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga , and other monuments were recently restored, while Mantegna’s famous Camera degli Sposi reopened in 2015 following earthquake damage in 2012 (see p. 96).

158km (98 miles) E of Milan, 62km (38 miles) N of Parma, 150km (93 miles) SW of Venice

Essentials

Getting There     Six direct trains depart daily from Milan Stazione Centrale (1 hr. 50 mins.; 11.50€). There are nine daily trains from Verona (30–40 min.; 3.75€).

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Medium 9781628871340

3 The Best Full-Day, Three-Day, One Week or Ten-Day Tours of Tuscany

Stephen Brewer FrommerMedia ePub

The Leaning Tower of Pisa.The Best of Tuscany in Three DaysIf you have only 3 days to see Tuscany beyond Florence, focus on Pisa, with its gravity-defying tower; San Gimignano, known for its medieval “skyscrapers”; and Siena, a living repository of Gothic art and architecture. From Florence, you’ll shoot 81km (50 miles) west to Pisa, for day 1; 92km (57 miles) southeast to San Gimignano for day 2; and 40km (24 miles) southeast again to Siena. START: Florence. Trip length: 283km (174 mile) loop.Travel TipThe most economical way to cover the Campo dei Miracoli is with an Opera Pisana pass, available from ticket offices on the piazza. For 10€, you’ll get into everything except the Tower. Alternatively, it’s 6€ for any two monuments. Pisa is just over an hour west of Florence by car. Follow signs for the four-lane FI–PI–LI raccordo. Pisa. Pisa is one of the easiest Tuscan cities to explore, both because it’s flat and because nearly all the major attractions center on Piazza del Duomo (also known as the Campo dei Miracoli—“Field of Miracles”). Your half-hour in and at the Leaning Tower, or Torre Pendente, is a memorable, though expensive, experience. You certainly shouldn’t miss the Duomo (cathedral) or Battistero (baptistery), and the Camposanto (burial ground) provides a more contemplative contrast. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (cathedral museum) and Museo Nazionale di San Matteo are must-sees for anyone with a keen interest in painting and sculpture.

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Medium 9781628873085

12 COIMBRA & THE BEIRAS

Ames, Paul FrommerMedia ePub

12

Coimbra & the Beiras

The three historic provinces making up the Beiras are often overlooked by travelers heading to the northern wine lands, Algarve beaches, or Lisbon’s cool city attractions. That is a mistake. The Beiras comprise spectacular mountain landscapes, historic cities, picturesque villages, unspoiled beaches, and restaurants serving some of the country’s most enticing culinary delights.

Among the urban attractions, pride of place goes to the historic university city of Coimbra. The region’s de facto capital sits on a bend in the slow-moving River Mondego. At its heart is the 13th-century university, with its wonderful baroque library. Almost 25,000 students ensure that the city’s UNESCO World Heritage old town is no sleepy historical backwater. The narrow alleys and plazas are packed with taverns and restaurants serenaded by students’ own version of fado music. Crammed with museums and monuments, Coimbra makes a great base for exploring the region. On its doorstep are the ruins of the Roman town of Conimbriga, the medieval riverside fortress at Montemor-o-Velho, and verdant Penacova, a jumping-off point for kayaking trips down the Mondego.

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