Travel With Me: Backpacking Around Northern Italy
Written by Lucie
The summer holidays are slowly approaching and everyone seems to have everything planned. However, there still might be some people who seek inspiration. If you're one of them, I got you! Two months ago, some friends and I travelled around northern Italy and although our plans were very spontaneous, I would like to give you my personal tips on what to visit, see and do there, as well as motivate you to pack your backpacks (literally, we didn't have any other luggage with us) and hit the road!
PRO TIP: Search for accommodation on Airbnb or Booking.com
If you want to travel cheaply, I definitely recommend you choose Milan as your first travel destination. As of now (June 2022), the cheapest flight tickets can be found online for around 700 CZK. However, if you catch a good deal, you can buy them much cheaper.
From a tourist’s point of view, Milan has a lot to offer, whether talking about the majestic Duomo (Milan Cathedral), the breathtaking Villa Reale di Milano with museum, or the best pudding croissants from the Farini Bakery.
Photo: Croissants from Farini, Lucie Bayerová
Photo: Villa Reale di Milano, Lucie Bayerová
PRO TIP: Walk everywhere you can. This is the best way to get to know the city!
Not far from Milan lies the historical city of Bergamo. It is easily accessible by train and not as touristy as Milan. Nonetheless, the hilly landscape gives the city its charm, and small family enterprises offering the best pizza under the Lombardian sun can be found on every corner. And if pizza is not your thing, you can rely on the local cafés, ideally with a view of hilly Bergamo. Compared to other cities, there isn't as much to see or do in Bergamo, but it is a perfect place to just enjoy the atmosphere and unwind.
Photo: Pizza, Lucie Bayerová
Photo: Bergamo Views, Lucie Bayerová
Lago di Como (Lake Como)
This place is my personal favourite and is a MUST when visiting northern Italy! This beautiful destination is not as popular as the well-known Lago di Garda, but according to many, it is much more authentic. If you are planning to visit Lake Como, you cannot forget to visit Varenna. This tiny village is famous for its botanical gardens located on the very coast of the lake, surrounded by freshly cut thujas and hanging purple-coloured wisteria trees. If any place on Earth is worth going to and seeing with your own eyes, it is Lake Como's Varenna.
PRO TIP: Best to visit in late afternoon, at the golden hour, when there are no people in sight.
Photos: Varenna, Lucie Bayerová
No, Varenna and Verona aren't the same place. Varenna is by Lake Como, whereas Verona is where the romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was set. Mentioning this play, Juliet's balcony is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. I don't recommend relying on seeing this place, as the queue in front of the famous yard seemingly never ends. However, if you are a true fan, you might want to set aside some time of the day just for this occasion. Besides that, Verona features a historical centre with predominantly Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture that gives the city its unique charm.
PRO TIP: Rent bikes and ride them around the city! (But be careful on the roads!)
Photo: Arena di Verona, Lucie Bayerová
Photo: Biking in Verona, Lucie Bayerová
When we visited Bologna, we did so with all our senses. Whether it was our eyes that saw the massive columned buildings, our noses that smelt the chalk used by street artists, or our ears that heard the shouting Italian voices, we could really feel the city come alive. In other words, Bologna seemed really busy, unlike the other cities that we visited in Italy. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to try the original pasta bolognese, but you definitely should!
PRO TIP: Accommodation in Bologna is quite expensive, but I promise that if you book a hotel in the nearby town of Vignola, you'll have loads of fun!
Photo: Street Art in Bologna, Lucie Bayerová
Photo: Bologna, Lucie Bayerová
As it goes, everything comes to an end, and Turin was an end to our journey. Despite having only a little time to explore the city, we saw some of the famous Piazza Castello square, Mole Antonelliana - the main symbol of Turin - and also some street art. Nonetheless, there are many more beautiful palaces and basilicas in Turin and more time is definitely needed to get the best out of the city!
Photo: Mole Antonelliana, Lucie Bayerová
Photo: Art in Turin, Lucie Bayerová
I hope this little guide has inspired at least some of you to plan a trip to northern Italy, whether with your friends, family, or just by yourself! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me, I'll be happy to help!