If you’re planning a trip to Milan in the near future, why not set your inner explorer free and take a ride on the wild side? Here are the top adventures to do a stone’s throw away from Italy’s fashion capital.
Thanks to its geographical position in Northern Italy, Milan makes accessing the natural beauty of Lombardy, the lakes and the neighbouring regions wonderfully simple, meaning the city is much more than just Italia’s fashion and industry capital. Visitors and locals alike can take advantage of the diverse natural resources, from the lakesto the mountains, choosing in what way they do so. For some, a no hassle, leisurely afternoon spent visiting a town for a wander around is all the kicks they need, but for some, however, a little thrill makes things a little more enticing (and memorable too).
So, if you’re looking for an excursion out of Milan that is sure to get the blood pumping, the mind tingling, and perhaps test your nerves too, here are the top adventures to take outside of the city.
Up, up and away – Hot air balloon rides
As gentle as a gliding hot air balloon may be, for some, heights are no laughing matter. But, whether you can stomach the vertigo or not, a gentle adventure into the skies above Lombardy and its lakes is not to be missed. With its varied landscape of forests, lakes, hills, valleys and more, and not forgetting the unseen vineyards and ancient towns that dot the horizon, a birds-eye view of northern Italy is a must-do for all adventurers.
There are many companies offering tailored rides or detailed itineraries, like ballon.it of Lombardy who come to you – set up space permitted – and then companies who have set start off points, like Balloon Team Italia from Lodi or like the packages organised through Viator that start from Crema or San Colombano al Lambro depending on the weather conditions. There is also a itinerary by Balloon Team Italia that kicks off from Lugano, an Italian speaking Swiss town, that will take you over the breath taking lakes of Northern Italy and granting spectacular views of the Alps, Como valleys and much more.
Walking boots on, cameras at the ready – Hiking trails
With just a couple of keywords typed into Google, you’ll unearth a plethora of walking and hiking trail suggestions that crisscross the Lombardy region. With such varied terrain, Milan is surrounded by natural resources and countryside that cater to all level of experience. From the Valtellina valley to overlooked Lake Orta, a little research goes a long way. Newbies would be wise to take on the lakes, like Como or West Garda, where as the more experienced hikers should check out the hiking trails that start in and around Livigno, on theMapmyhike. For ideas around Garda, the guys behind the site Visitgarda.com have a few itineraries that are perfect.
At Swide, we stumbled across a wonderful little site called sentierando.it that goes slightly further afield than Lombardy and organise some of the most epic, exciting, and tough hikes i’ve seen to date. Sentierando is an association that plans expert excursions throughout Italy, updating their website with the next hikes happening. They even cater for hikers going out of Italy, including one in Albania, France and… Georgia.
Take a ride on the wild side – Cycling Lombardy
If you didn’t already know, cycling and northern Italy go hand in hand. I’m talking about the world famous Giro d’Italia of course, which pushes professional (crazy) cyclists to their limits. The 2015 Giro d’Italia saw cyclists hit a 3-week trail of 3481km, doing an average of 165km a day.
Don’t worry, this isn’t what Swide has got in mind for you. With the lakes being such a focal point, it’s worth taking a look at what you can get up to on your pushbike around Lake Como. Tourism site Griante want you to get the best of their precious lakes and the nearby famed routes of Gavia, Mortirollo and Stelvio. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, at Lake Como, all skill sets are catered and Griante suggests the Passo del Ghisallo – Bellagio route, often featured in Giro d’Italia. There is also the 160km ride that takes you around the perimeter of the lake, taking you to all the small towns that dot its coast.
Wanting something a tad closer to Milan? Well, as you’ll know, Milan is famed for its Navigli but this time we’re talking bike routes and not aperitivo. From Navigli, you can simply take yourself out of the city and explore the nearby countryside and history. There are 3 recommended short excursions that can be done in a day, and make sure you get equal doses of nature, local history, food, and drink. Take a look here.
If you’re feeling adventurous and are planning to spend a week or so on the road, you could try out Lakes of Lombardia and Piemonte trail, which takes you from the east side of Garda over to the East side of Orta, all 315km of it.
Fall from grace – Paragliding
Ever wondered what it would be like to fly over lakes, snow-capped mountains, vineyards, castles and grand cathedrals all at once? Well, how about doing it with the wind beneath your wings, flying hundreds of meters up in the sky while paragliding?
Professional, experienced paraglider instructor Fabio Conti takes through the moves and then up into the air with his Livigno Paragliding packages. There are also packages by Brevart that take you up into the skies over Lake Como in Tandem, kicking off form in the Altoario area of Como, flying in tandem with professionals.
But, which ever you choose, and depending on which season you go paragliding, you know that it’s going to be one hell of a memorable experience.
Chalk up your hands – Rock Climbing
Like your adventure to come with a sheer drop in the mix? Well, it’s no surprise that northern Italy is one of the best places in the world for rock climbing and bouldering. But, it’s advised that these thrilling yet dangerous leisure activities are only done by and with professionals, and so that is why Swide has found the perfect platform for both beginner and advance rock climbers. As long as you are in decent physical shape and are up for a challenge, then Mountain Guides Italy comes highly recommended.
Based in Valcamonica, a beautifull valley set in Italian Alps, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty as well as many natural climbing walls. This valley is also famous for its skiing and ice climbing (something worth looking into by you pros out there). These guys offer a 3 day programme which generally take place in Valcamonica, but they’ve been known to take their trade over to the beautiful Lake Garda, too. You’ll learn the basic climbing technique which, by day three, you’ll be using to scale multi-pitch rocks. I’ll see you there. For more info.
Source: Swide, by: Ben Taylor