You will have a lifetime experience if you travel to Italy especially the northern Italy regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria because Milan is the perfect city to serve as a base for your travels. It will be nothing wonderful when you simply get to your Milan centre hotel and fall under the spell of the magical city. And if you have some day excursions, certainly like many millions, you fall in love with the area.
Located on the Italian Riviera, Portofino is a picturesque fishing village where life centres around a small, but picturesque, harbour. Often lauded (and not often disputed) to be amongst the most beautiful of all the Mediterranean ports, Portofino enjoys a huge popularity with tourists as well as British expats, who buy up villas and houses in the village to use on their annual holidays. The village follows the gentle curve of the harbour and the picture-perfect, pastel houses spill right down onto the waterfront lined with cafes, restaurants and boutiques.
Although it would be easy to spend a week or longer in Portofino, its proximity to Milan makes it ideal for a day trip. Set off early from your Milan centre hotel and catch the 7.30am train to Portofino and you arrive in Santa Margherita around 10.00am in time for the ferry to Portofino. You can spend a lazy day wandering the village and soaking up the atmosphere of the warmer Riviera weather before heading back to Milan in the late afternoon - arriving just in time for dinner!
If you're starting to get a little used to the high life in your Milan centre hotel, try a day trip to Lake Como to bring you back to Earth. Or perhaps we should say, show you a slice of heaven.
Long a favourite destination for the rich and famous, Lake Como is lined with historic villas, many of which are just as famous as the lake itself. Villa Carlotta and Villa d'Este are two of the most high-profile, but many others have been transformed into exclusive, luxury hotels. The incredible beauty of the area makes it a popular summer destination with local Italians as well as international visitors, and during the peak months it can get extremely busy. The good news is you can escape the crowds and experience the best views of the mountains if you take a boat ride out into the lake. It's hard to believe that the beauty and serenity of the Italian lakes is only half an hour away from your Milan centre hotel; but it is, and it makes for a perfect day trip away.
For an opportunity to step back into Lombardy's fascinating history, the ancient town of Pavia is only 35 kms from Milan centre. Hotels or tour companies will be able to arrange a day or half day trip to the town or, if you have your own transport, it is just a short drive. The main draw to visit Pavia is its wonderful architecture, and there are many fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic buildings as well as an impressive 14th century covered bridge which gives Florence's Ponte Vecchio a run for its money. Stay on for an early supper and an 'aperitivo' in the town square before heading back to Milan.