Strung across the broad plain of the River Po in southern Lombardy, a belt of well-preserved ancient towns offers a handful of spectacular masterpieces of art and architecture against the backdrop of comfortable provincial life.

Just outside the ancient town of Pavia, the fabulous Certosa monastery complex makes an attractive introduction to this part of Lombardy. To the east, Cremona, birthplace of the violin, has a neat, well-preserved centre that’s worth popping in to visit. Mantua, on the eastern edge of the region, is Lombardy’s most visually appealing city: the powerful Gonzaga family ruled for three hundred years from an extravagant ducal palace and later the Palazzo Te, on the outskirts of the city, which contains some of the finest (and most steamily erotic) fresco-painting of the entire Renaissance.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Discovering Palermo: why you should give Sicily’s capital a chance

Discovering Palermo: why you should give Sicily’s capital a chance

A city of grit and forgotten grandeur, for too long Palermo has resigned itself to being a film set of crumbling palaces, sun-worn facades and pockmarked backst…

08 Dec 2017 • Olivia Rawes insert_drive_file Article
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right