The north western corner of Italy, south of the Swiss Alps offers great variety, beautiful landscapes with picturesque lakes, villages and grand cities. There are hiking and skiing possibilities in the mountains and swimming and boating possibilities on the lakes.
Lombardia (Lombardy) was named after a Germanic tribe (Langobards or Lombards) that had inherited it from barbarians who had wrested it from the Roman Empire; it became a pawn of Europe's powerful families, and suffered invasion from Venetians, Austrians and Napoleon's French. Its capital, Milano (Milan) is a business and financial centre and, after Rome, Italy's largest city. But to its north are the wonderful landscapes along the Swiss border, with its Lake district: Lake Maggiore, Como, Iseo and Garda, popular with holiday makers.
Piemonte's capital, Torino (Turin), being the centre of the House of Savoy which ruled the region from the early 11th Century and became the Royal family of a united Italy, made the city briefly its capital. It is an industrial centre: the automobile company Fiat is based here, among others. The region also produces some of the best red wines and grows a large proportion of Italy's rice. In the foothills of the Alps, and just to the west of majestic Lago Maggiore, is the small and picturesque Lake Orta, with its wonderful town and San Giulio island opposite.