Apart from Como and Milan, there are a number of small but nonetheless really beautiful towns, rich in art and culture, within a short drive from il Ronco. Needless to say, the below is just a small selection but Mantova, Bologna, Ferrara, Torino, Genova.... all these cities are also within easy reach and absolutely full of treasures.
Famous for its grand Piazza Ducale and for its shoemaking tradition, Vigevano was granted the title of city by Duke Francis II Sforza in 1532. Vigevano's main attraction is one of the finest piazzas in Italy, the Piazza Ducale, an elongated rectangle that is almost in the ideal proportions 1:3 advocated by the architectural theorist Antonio Filarete, which is also said to have been laid out by Bramante, and was certainly built for Ludovico il Moro, starting in 1492-93 and completed in record time. The Sforza Castle is also well preserved and well worth a visit. Vigevano is about 60 km from Il Ronco and it takes just over 1 hour to reach.
The city was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774. Although there are a number of industries located in the suburbs, these do not disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the town. The town is home to the ancient and famous University of Pavia and it possesses a vast amount of artistic and cultural treasures, including several important churches and museums, such as the well-known Certosa di Pavia. It is also about 1 hour drive from Ronco and can be visited on the same day as Vigevano as they are quite close.
Bergamo occupies the site of the ancient town of Bergomum, founded as a settlement of the Celtic tribe of Cenomani. In 49 BC it became a Roman municipality. The town has two centres: "Città alta" (upper city), a hilltop medieval town, surrounded by 16th-century cyclopic defensive walls, and the "Città bassa" (lower city). The upper city, forms the historic centre of Bergamo and has numerous places of interest including: Cittadella (Citadel), built by the Visconti in the mid-14th century, Palazzo della Ragione, which was the seat of the administration of the city in the age of the communes. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major).
Bergamo is about 80Km from IL Ronco on the A4 motorway towards Venice.
Verona needs little introduction. Shakespeare has made it one of the most famous Italian cities in the UK. There is no room here to list all of its sites but suffice it to say that because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and that it was the birthplace of Catullus, and the town that Julius Caesar chose for relaxing stays. In its history many important names passed and events happened that were relevant for the European history, like Theoderic the Great, king of Ostrogoths, Alboin and Rosamund, the Lombard Dukes, Charlemagne and Pippin of Italy, Berengar I, Dante.
Verona is a further 120Km away from Il Ronco.
Padua claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy. According to a tradition dated at least to Virgil's Aeneid, and rediscovered by the medieval commune, it was founded in 1183 BC by the Trojan prince Antenor, who was supposed to have led the people of Eneti or Veneti from Paphlagonia to Italy. The city exhumed a large stone sarcophagus in the year 1274 and declared these to represent Antenor's relics. It hosts the renowned University of Padua, almost 800 years old and famous, among other things, for having had Galileo Galilei among its lecturers.
The city is picturesque, with a dense network of arcaded streets opening into large communal piazze, and many bridges crossing the various branches of the Bacchiglione river. The main sights in Padua are The Scrovegni Chapel (Italian: Cappella degli Scrovegni) which houses a remarkable cycle of frescoes completed in 1305 by Giotto. The Palazzo della Ragione, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe. The Palazzo was begun in 1172 and finished in 1219. It takes just under 3 hours to drive from Il Ronco to Padova.
Driving south from Milan, towards Bologna, Parma is a stop one must make. Parma was already a built-up area in the Bronze Age. The city was most probably founded and named by the Etruscans, for a parma (circular shield) was a Latin borrowing. Whether the Etruscan encampment was so named because it was round, like a shield, or whether its situation was a shield against the Gauls to the north, is uncertain.
Amongst its most notable sights, the Cathedral: a Romanesque church that houses a 12th-century sculpture by Benedetto Antelami and a 16th-century fresco masterpiece by Antonio da Correggio, and its famous Baptistery: (construction began in 1196) by Antelami, which stands adjacent to the cathedral. The Ducal Palace, built from 1561 for Duke Ottavio Farnese on the former Sforza castle area and then enlarged in the 17th–18th centuries. It includes a fresco by Parmigianino. The Teatro Farnese was constructed in 1618–1619 by Giovan Battista Aleotti, totally in wood. It was commissioned by Duke Ranuccio I for the visit of Cosimo I de' Medici.
“Perfect away-from-it-all holiday venue, a lovely home with a gated swimming pool of luxury hotel standard and a tennis court. The two restaurants in the next village, Appiano Gentile, are stunning!"
- DNS, May 2015