Must visit places in Italy. Part one – Northern Italy

Italy is by far the most beautiful country one can visit. Art, history, fashion, delicious food and wine, spectacular palaces and villas and the list can go on. Italy is prepared to satisfy everyone’s needs. Here is a list of some of the most beautiful places in Northern Italy


This fishing village is my favorite place in Italy. It’s small, chic and colorful. With lush and rich vegetation, Portofino is a feast for the eyes

Portofino belongs to the the Italian Riviera coastline. Guy de Maupassant, after visiting the place, said he had not experienced a sensation that would rival what he felt when he entered that cove. 

I can only confirm this experience because I, myself, felt the same, even though I had seen many wonderful cities before arriving here.  You feel overwhelmed by the fact that the great beauties of nature have gathered in this small place.

For the most spectacular view you must walk to Castello Brown, located above the harbour of Portofino. 

STRESA la-dolce-vita-2

Although all the lakes in northern Italy are particularly beautiful, Lake Maggiore has a special attraction: the Borromean Islands, which bear the name of their owners, a Milanese family

The three islands located in Stresa are Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre. Isola Bella, the most romantic of the three islands, was a desolated cliff with only a few cottages. But in the seventeenth century Count Chales Borromeo III decided  to bring civilisation to the island in honor of his wife, Isabella. The island of Pescatori is a fishing village, as the name suggests – “pescatori” means fishermen. On Isola Madre there are lush botanical gardens alongside another Borromean palace. 

Stresa is a famous resort town on Italy’s Lake Maggiore. Heminghway made it even more famous by mentioning it in his bok “A farewell to arms”. With numerous villas and belle-epoque hotels, Stresa is the perfect place to enjoy lake views on a romantic set surrounded by nature.

LENNOla-dolce-vita-7Como Lake is one of those places where you can admire celebrity houses. You can also visit some of the most beautiful villas in Italy. One of them is Villa del Balbianello, located in Lenno resort town

Before Giuseppe Arconati Visconti bought this villa, in 1796, there was a Franciscan monastery here.  Villa del Balbianello had several owners. The last one was Guido Monizo, the first italian explorer who led an expedition on Everest in 1973. The interior of the villa still bears his fingerprints. There are objects from his expeditions and also a library with numerous books from where he informed himself before going on an expedition.

The villa on the shores of Lake Como, in addition to the visitors it receives, is an ideal place for weddings. When I was visiting the villa, they were preparing a ceremony and I could only imagine how beautiful a wedding would be there. The villa was also used as a filming platform for Star Wars and Casino Royale.


Elegance and style are certainly the elements that define Milan. An excellent combination of old and modern, fashion and culture

Milan is best known for its magnificent Duomo. The Gothic cathedral that rises in the central square is one of the most spectacular churches in Italy and the world. If you visit the city, you have to go up to the cathedral roof. It is more than spectacular, and the city’s view is amazing, especially at sunset.

It’s worth visiting the Scala Theater Museum and the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, which I particularly enjoyed. A walk through the Brera district will introduce you to the bohemian atmosphere of this wonderful city.

 VENICEla-dolce-vita-6Truman Capote said that “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go” 

Although Venice’s biggest attraction is Venice itself, try not to get away with the beauty of the city and the canals crossed by gondolas and explore the wonderful palaces that shelter true treasures: Ca’Rezzonico – the seat of a museum dedicated to Venice of the 16th century; Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – here is the Peggy Guggenheim collection; Ca’d’Oro – Galleria Franchetti with paintings and medieval sculptures, but also paintings by Tizian, Tintoretto or Van Dyck. And, of course, the Palazzo Ducale – The Dogs’ Palace, which is said to be one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in the world.

Francesco Sansovino said about Venice: “Some say that this word VENEZIA signifies VENI  ETIAM, which means come again, and again, because whenever you come, you will always see new things and new beauties.”


Just 10 minutes away by boat you can visit the smaller sister of Venice, the island of Murano. While Venice is crowded, in Murano you will find the exact opposite

You must visit one of the Murano glass factories to see how the glass is made and especially under what conditions. I spent 20 minutes while the presentation lasted and almost melted faster than the glass. The objects in the museum fascinated me, they are incredibly beautiful. Sculptures, vases, chandeliers, mirrors and jewellery are waiting for you to buy them.

You can also visit the Burano Island, wich is even more colorful and sweet, with pink and blue small houses. Burano is famous for its lace. There is also the Torcello island. There are sailboats that go on these three islands so you can make a day trip and enjoy some peaceful moments and local goodies.


Verona, the city the Italians built, but which an Englishman, Shakespeare, has made famous, is just as delightful for anyone who visits it, whether he is in love or not

You can go to the opera or to a concert on the Arena, a Roman amphitheater dating from the 1st century. And, of course, you have to visit Juliet’s house (Casa di Giulietta) which is now a museum. You get to stand on the balcony, waiting for your Romeo or you can write a letter to Juliet if you want her to send you a Romeo.

You can visit Castelvecchio for works of art or you can have a cup of coffee in Piazza delle Erbe. To make an idea about Verona, you must go to Castel San Pietro, where you will see the city in all its splendor. It’s the place where you want to forget about yourself and just to admire the landscape and the the romantic city of Verona.


Padua, or Padova in italian, is one of the oldest cities in Italy and also the home of an ancient university

The representative image of the City of Saint Padua is the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, which shelters the relics of this saint. The immense church in the heart of the city, crowned with Byzantine domes and minarets style towers, is simply impressive.

Near the church lies the largest square in Italy and among the largest in Europe, Prato della Valle (photo). With 78 statues that surround the square and the beautiful buildings that reflect in it’s pool of water from everywhere you look, Prato della Valle is a true artistic show. If you visit Padova, pamper yourself at Caffe Pedrocchi, one of Italy’s most famous cafes.


Bologna is renowned for one of the first universities established in the Western world. Since medieval times, the university has attracted students and continues to do so

Although there are only twenty towers that rise like medieval skyscrapers, Bologna had over one hundred towers at the end of the 12th century. Of the remaining ones, the Garisenda and Asinelli towers are the city’s most famous landmarks. The view from the Asinelli Tower deserves the effort to climb its 498 steps.

Since one of Bologna’s nicknames is “the fat one” prepare yourself for a great culinary treat. And I’m not talking about bolognese pasta. Here you will find the best kinds of cheese and prosciutto. My advice: you either go on a diet or go on a trip to Bologna. You’ll have to chose which one. 

More of Italy here : Central Italy and Southern Italy  

Photo By: Ioana Vesa

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