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Lombardy






Lombardy (Lombardia , Western Lombard: ''Lumbardìa'', Eastern Lombard: ''Lombardia'') is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. A sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about a fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe. Major tourist destinations in the region include the historic, cultural and artistic cities of Milan (which is Italy's second top tourist destination), Brescia, Mantua, Pavia, Como, Cremona, Bergamo, Sondrio, Lecco, Lodi, Varese, Monza, and the lakes of Garda, Como, Maggiore, and Iseo.

The official language, as in the rest of Italy, is Italian. The traditional local languages are the various dialects of Lombard (Western Lombard and Eastern Lombard), as well as some dialects of Emilian, spoken in some parts of the provinces of Mantua, Pavia, and Cremona. According to Istat, almost 27% of Lombards are bilingual with Lombard and Italian languages; 9.1% are monolingual in Lombard and 57.6% are monolingual in Italian.

Geography



Panorama of Bergamasque Alps''.
Lombardy is bordered by Switzerland (north: Canton Ticino and Canton Graubünden) and by the Italian regions of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto (east), Emilia-Romagna (south), and Piedmont (west). Three distinct natural zones can be fairly easily distinguished in the Lombardy region: mountains, hills and plains – the latter being divided in ''Alta'' (high plains) and ''Bassa'' (low plains).

The most important mountainous area is an Alpine zone including the Lepontine and Rhaetian Alps, (Piz Bernina – La Spedla, 4,020 m), the Bergamo Alps, the Ortler Alps and the Adamello massif; it is followed by an Alpine foothills zone Prealpi, which include the main peaks are the Grigna Group (2,410 m), Resegone (1,875 m) and Presolana (2,521 m). The great Lombard lakes, all of glacial origin lie in this zone. From west to east these are Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano (shared with Switzerland), Lake Como, Lake Iseo, Lake Idro, then Lake Garda, the largest in Italy. South of the Alps lie the hills characterized by a succession of low heights of morainic origin, formed during the last Ice Age and small barely fertile plateaux, with typical heaths and conifer woods. A minor mountainous area lies south of the Po, in the Appennines range.

The flat countryside around south part of Lake Garda.

The plains of Lombardy, formed from alluvial deposits, can be divided into the ''Alta'' – an upper, permeable ground zone in the north and a lower zone characterized – the ''Bassa'' – by the so-called line of ''fontanili'' (the spring waters rising on impermeable ground). Anomalous compared with the three distinctions already made is the small region of the Oltrepò Pavese, formed by the Apennine foothills beyond the Po River. A large number of rivers, all direct or indirect tributaries of the Po, cross the plains of Lombardy. Major rivers, flowing NW to SE, are the Ticino, the outlet of Lake Maggiore, the Olona, the Lambro, the Adda, outlet of Lake Como, the Mincio, outlet of Lake Garda, and the Oglio, the Lake Iseo outflow. There is a wide network of canals for irrigation purposes. In the plains, intensively cultivated for centuries, little of the original environment remains. The rare elm, alder, sycamore, poplar, willow and hornbeam woods and heaths are covered now by several protected areas. In the area of the great Alpine foothills lakes, however, grow olive trees, cypresses and larches, as well as varieties of subtropical flora such as magnolias, azaleas, acacias, etc. The mountains area is characterized by the typical vegetation of the whole range of the Italian Alps. At a lower levels (up to approximately 1,100 m) oak woods or broadleafed trees grow; on the mountain slopes (up to 2,000–2,200 m) beech trees grow at the lowest limits, with conifer woods higher up. Shrubs such as rhododendron, dwarf pine and juniper are native to the summital zone (beyond 2,200 m).

Panorama view: ''Lake Maggiore''

The climate of this region is continental, though with variations depending on altitude or the presence of inland waters. The continental nature of the climate is more accentuated on the plains, with high annual temperature changes (at Milan an average January temperature is and in July), and thick fog between October and February. The Alpine foothills lakes exercise a mitigating influence, permitting the cultivation of typically Mediterranean produce (olives, citrus fruit). In the Alpine zone, the valley floor is relatively mild in contrast with the colder higher areas (Bormio, 1,225 m, average in January, in July). Precipitations are more frequent in the Prealpine zone (up to 1,500–2,000mm annually) than on the plains and Alpine zones (600mm to 850mm annually). The numerous species of endemic flora (the Lombard native species), typical mainly of the Lake Como area, include some kinds of saxifrage, the Lombard garlic, groundsels bellflowers and the cottony bellflowers. Lombardy counts many protected areas: the most important are the Stelvio National Park (the largest Italian natural park), with typically alpine wildlife: red deer, roe-deer, ibex, chamois, foxes, ermine and also golden eagles; and the Ticino Valley Natural Park, instituted in 1974 on the Lombard side of the Ticino River to protect and conserve one of the last major examples of fluvial forest in Northern Italy.

History



Early history





Roman ruins of the
Imperial palace of Mediolanum


Ancient Celtic artifacts
retrieved in Lombardy


The area of current Lombardy was settled at least since the 2nd millennium BC, as shown by the archaeological findings of ceramics, arrows, axes and carved stones. In the following centuries it was inhabited by different peoples among whom the Etruscans, who founded the city of Mantua and spread the use of writing; later, starting from the 5th century BC, the area was invaded by CelticGallic tribes. These people settled in several cities (including Milan) and extended their rule to the Adriatic Sea. Their development was halted by the Roman expansion in the Po Valley from the 3rd century BC onwards: after centuries of struggle, in 194 BC the entire area of what is now Lombardy became a Roman province with the name of Gallia Cisalpina ("Gaul on the nearer side of the Alps"). The Roman culture and language overwhelmed the former civilization in the following years, and Lombardy became one of the most developed and rich areas of Italy with the construction of a wide array of roads and the development of agriculture and trade. Important figures like Pliny the Elder (in Como) and Virgil (in Mantua) were born here. In late antiquity the strategic role of Lombardy was emphasized by the temporary moving of the capital of the Western Empire to Mediolanum (Milan). Here, in 313 AD, emperor Constantine issued the famous edict that gave freedom of confession to all religions within the Empire.

Middle Ages





King Alboin led the Lombard migration into the Po Valley and made Pavia the capital

During and after the fall of the Western Empire, Lombardy suffered heavily from destruction brought about by a series of invasions by tribal peoples. The last and most effective was that of the Lombards, or Longobardi, who came around 570s and whose long-lasting reign (whose capital was set in Pavia) gave the current name to the region. There was a close relationship between the Frankish, Bavarian and Lombard nobility for many centuries. After the initial struggles, relationships between the Lombard people and the Latin-speaking people improved. In the end, the Lombard language and culture assimilated with the Latin culture, leaving evidence in many names, the legal code and laws among other things. The end of Lombard rule came in 774, when the Frankish king Charlemagne conquered Pavia and annexed the Kingdom of Italy (mostly northern and central Italy) to his empire. The former Lombard dukes and nobles were replaced by other German vassals, prince-bishops or marquises. The 11th century marked a significant boom in the region's economy, due to improved trading and, mostly, agricultural conditions. In a similar way to other areas of Italy, this led to a growing self-acknowledgement of the cities, whose increasing richness made them able to defy the traditional feudal supreme power, represented by the German emperors and their local legates. This process reached its apex in the 12th and 13th centuries, when different Lombard Leagues formed by allied cities of Lombardy, usually led by Milan, managed to defeat the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick I, at Legnano, and his grandson Frederick II, at Parma.

The Coronation ceremony of
Gian Galeazzo Visconti in the
Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio

This did not prevent other important Lombard centres, like Cremona (then rivalling Milan for size and wealth) and others, from supporting the imperial power if this could grant them an immediate advantage. Taking advantage of the flourishing agriculture, the area around the Po River, together with Venice and Tuscany, continued to expand its industry and commerce until it became the economic centre of the whole of Europe. The enterprising class of the communes extended its trade and banking activities well into northern Europe: "Lombard" designated the merchant or banker coming from northern Italy (see, for instance, Lombard Street in London). The name "Lombardy" came to designate the whole of Northern Italy until the 15th century and sometimes later. From the 14th century onwards, the instability created by the unceasing internal and external struggles ended in the creation of noble seignories, the most significant of which were those of the Viscontis (later Sforzas) in Milan and of the Gonzagas in Mantua. In the 15th century the Duchy of Milan was a major political, economical and military force at the European level. Milan and Mantua became two centres of the Renaissance whose culture, with men like Leonardo da Vinci and Mantegna, and pieces of art were highly regarded (for example, Leonardo da Vinci's ''The Last Supper''). This richness, however, attracted the now more organized armies of national powers like France and Austria, which waged a lengthy battle for Lombardy in the late 15th-early 16th century.

Modern era





Historical image of Villa Reale di Monza, official summer residence of the Austrian viceroys of Lombardy-Venetia, at the time of Austrian domination.
After the decisive Battle of Pavia, the Duchy of Milan became a possession of the Habsburgs of Spain: the new rulers did little to improve the economy of Lombardy, instead imposing a growing series of taxes needed to support their unending series of European wars. The eastern part of modern Lombardy, with cities like Bergamo and Brescia, was under the Republic of Venice, which had begun to extend its influence in the area from the 14th century onwards (''see also Italian Wars''). Pestilences (like that of 1628/1630, described by Alessandro Manzoni in his ''I Promessi Sposi'') and the generally declining conditions of Italy's economy in the 17th and 18th centuries halted the further development of Lombardy. In 1706 the Austrians came to power and introduced some economical and social measures which granted a certain recovery. Their rule was smashed in the late 18th century by the French armies, however, and with the formation of the Napoleonic Empire, Lombardy became one of the semi-independent provinces of Napoleonic France. The restoration of Austrian rule in 1815, in the form of the puppet state called Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, had however to contend with new social ideals introduced by the Napoleonic era. Lombardy became one of the intellectual centres leading to Italian unification. The popular republic of 1848 was short-lived, its suppression leading to renewed Austrian rule. This came to a decisive end when Lombardy was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy 1859 as a result of the Second Italian Independence War. When annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1859 Lombardy achieved its present-day territorial shape by adding the Oltrepò Pavese (formerly the southern part of Novara's Province) to the province of Pavia. Starting from the late 19th century, and with a boom after World War II, Lombardy sharpened its status of richest and most industrialized region of Italy.

Demographics





One sixth of the Italian population or about 10 million people live in Lombardy (16.2% of the national population; 2% of the European Union population), making it the second most densely populated region in Italy after Campania with a strong concentration in the Milan metropolitan area and the Alpine foothills areas of the provinces of Varese, Como, Lecco, Monza and Brianza and Bergamo, (1,200 inh./km2), a lower average density (250 inh./km2) in the Po valley and the lower Brescia valleys, and much lower densities (less than 60 inh./km2) in the northern mountain areas and the southern Oltrepò Pavese subregion.

The growth of the regional population was particularly sustained during the 1950s–60s, thanks to a prolonged economic boom, high birth rates, and strong immigration flows (especially from Southern Italy). During the last two decades, Lombardy became the destination of a large number of international immigrants, insomuch that today more than a quarter of all foreign immigrants in Italy lives in this region. As of 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics ISTAT estimated that 815,335 foreign-born immigrants live in Lombardy, equal to 8.4% of the total regional population.

The primary religion is Catholicism; significative religious minorities include Christian Waldenses, Protestants and Orthodox, as well as Jews, Sikh and Muslims.

Economy



View over the business district of Milan: with a metropolitan area of 7.4m people, it is Italy's most important industrial, commercial and financial center.

The gross domestic product in Lombardia (equal to over €318.424 billion in 2009) accounts for 20% of the total gross domestic product of Italy. When this measure is considered by inhabitant, it results in a value of €31,600 per inhabitant, which is almost 25% higher than the national average of €24,300.[http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PGP_PRD_CAT_PREREL/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2008/PGE_CAT_PREREL_YEAR_2008_MONTH_02/1-12022008-EN-AP.PDF]

Lombardy's development has been marked by the growth of the services sector since the 1980s, and in particular by the growth of innovative activities in the sector of services to enterprises and in credit and financial services. At the same time, the strong industrial vocation of the region has not suffered from it. Lombardy remains, in fact, the main industrial area of the country. The presence, and development, of a very high number of enterprises belonging to the services sector represents a favourable situation for the improvement of the efficiency of the productive process, as well as for the growth of the regional economy. Lombardy is one of the Four Motors for Europe.

The region can broadly be divided into three areas as regards the productive activity. Milan, where the services sector makes up for 65.3% of the employment; a group of provinces, Varese, Como, Lecco, Bergamo and Brescia, highly industrialised, although in the two latter ones, in the plains, there is also a rich agricultural sector. Finally, in the provinces of Sondrio, Pavia, Cremona, Mantova and Lodi, there is a consistent agricultural activity, and at the same time an above average development of the services sector. The productivity of agriculture is enhanced by a well-developed use of fertilizers and the traditional abundance of water, boosted since the Middle Ages by the construction (partly designed by Leonardo da Vinci) of a wide net of irrigation systems. Lower plains are characterized by fodder crops, which are mowed up to eight times a years, cereals (rice, wheat and maize) and sugarbeet. Productions of the higher plains include cereals, vegetables, fruit trees and mulberries. The higher areas, up to the Prealps and Alps sectors of the north, produce fruit and vines. Cattle (with the highest density in Italy), pigs and sheep are raised.

Government and politics




The government skyscraper
The politics of Lombardy take place in a framework of a presidential representative democracy, whereby the President of the Region (''Presidente della Regione'') is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Regional Government (''Giunta Regionale''). Legislative power is vested in the Regional Council (''Consiglio Regionale'').

The Christian Democrats maintained a large majority of the popular support and the control of the most important cities and provinces since the birth of the Italian Republic until the late 1980s. The Italian Communist Party was a considerable presence only in the eastern and southern parts of Lombardy from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s. Their base however was increasingly eroded by the Italian Socialist Party until, in the early 1990s, the ''Mani Pulite'' corruption scandal which spread from Milan to the whole of Italy wiped away the old political class almost entirely. This, together with the general disaffection towards Rome's government (considered as favouring excessively the less developed regions of southern Italy in economical matters), led to the sudden growth of the secessionist (later Northern League), that is particularly strong in mountain and rural areas. In recent years, Lombardy stayed as a conservative stronghold, that gave about 60 per cent of its votes to Silvio Berlusconi at the last general election, thanks to the support of such large region Silvio Berlusconi (who comes from Lombardia) has been able to win the political elections . Notwithstanding, the capital city of Milan landslide elected a new progressive mayor at the 2011 municipal elections.

Administrative divisions



Lombardy is divided into 12 provinces:

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Culture






Although Lombardy as a region is often identified as merely an economic and industrial powerhouse, it has interesting examples [http://www.lombardiadautore.regione.lombardia.it] even from the standpoint of cultural and artistic. The many examples range from prehistory to the present day, through the Roman period and the Renaissance and can be found both in museums and churches that enrich cities and towns around the region.

Prehistory


Rock engraves, Nadro.

The rock carvings (some 300,000) left by the ancient Camuni in the Valcamonica depicting animals, people and symbols date back to the period from Neolithic to Middle Ages.

The many artifacts (pottery, personal items and weapons) found in the necropolis near the Lake Maggiore, and Ticino demonstrate the presence of civilization Golasecca who lived in Western Lombardy between the ninth and the fourth century BC.

Museums


Lombardy contains numerous museums (over 330) of different types: ethnographic, historical, technical-scientific, artistic and naturalistic which testify to the historical-cultural and artistic development of the region. Among the most famous are the National Museum of Science and Technology "Leonardo da Vinci" (Milan), the The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci (Milan), the Accademia Carrara (Bergamo), the Museum of Santa Giulia (Brescia), the Volta Temple (Como), the Stradivari Museum (Cremona), the Palazzo Te (Mantua), the Museum Sacred Art of the Nativity and the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta at Gandino, the Royal Villa of Monza and many others.

Villa Olmo in Como.

''The Last Supper'' (Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (1499), by Leonardo da Vinci.

Main sights


* Cathedral of Milan
* Castello Sforzesco
* Basilica di Sant'Ambrogio
* Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie
* The Last Supper
* Teatro alla Scala
* Basilica of San Lorenzo
* Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio
* Portinari Chapel
* Brera Gallery
* Certosa di Pavia
* Petroglyphs of Valcamonica
* Bellagio
* Lake of Como
* Lake of Garda
* Industrial village of Crespi d'Adda
* Duomo and Torrazzo in Cremona
* Royal Villa of Monza
* Tempio Civico della Beata Vergine Incoronata in Lodi
* Palazzo Te, Castello di San Giorgio, Basilica di Sant'Andrea and Cathedral in Mantua

Cuisine



Rice is popular in the region, often found in soups as well as ''risotti'', such as "risotto alla Milanese", with saffron. In the city of Monza a popular recipe also adds pieces of sausages to the risotto. Regional cheeses include ''robiola'', ''crescenza'', ''taleggio'', ''gorgonzola'' and ''grana padano'' (the plains of central and southern Lombardy allow intensive cattle-raising). Butter and cream are used. Single pot dishes, which take less work to prepare, are popular. In Bergamo, Brescia, and Valtellina, polenta is common. In Valtellina, Pizzoccheri too. In Mantua festivals feature ''tortelli di zucca'' (ravioli with pumpkin filling) accompanied by melted butter and followed by turkey stuffed with chicken or other stewed meats.

Typical dishes


A traditional "Cotoletta alla Milanese (Milanese-style cutlet)" served with potatoes.
* Polenta (Asino e Polenta, Polenta e Osei, Vunscia Polenta, Polenta e Gorgonzola)
* Pizzoccheri (short tagliatelle made out of buckwheat flour and wheat, laced with butter, green vegetables, garlic, sage, potatoes and onions, all topped with Casera cheese)
* Quartirolo lombardo
* Risotto (alla Milanese)
* Osso buco
* Cotoletta (Cutlet) ("alla Milanese")
* Cassoeula
* Gorgonzola cheese
* Bitto cheese
* Grana Padano cheese
* Panettone
* Lo Spiedo Bresciano – a traditional spit roast consisting of different cuts of meat, butter and sage
* Tortelli di Zucca (Pumpkins filled pasta)
* Sbrisolona cake

Wines



* Nebbiolo red
* Bellavista
* Santi
* Nino Negri
* Bonarda Lombardy
* Inferno (Valtellina)
* Grumello (Valtellina)
* Sassella (Valtellina)

Music


The magnificent auditorium of the Teatro Grande in Brescia.

Besides Milan, the region of Lombardy has 11 other provinces, most of them with equally great musical traditions. Bergamo is famous for being the birthplace of Gaetano Donizetti and home of the Teatro Donizetti; Brescia is hosts the impressive 1709 Teatro Grande; Cremona is regarded as the birthplace of the commonly used violin, and is home to several of the most prestigious luthiers in the world, and Mantua was one of the founding and most important cities in 16th and 17th opera and classical music. Other cities such as Lecco, Lodi, Varese and Pavia also have rich musical traditions, but Milan is the hub and centre of the Lombard musical scene. It was the workplace of Giuseppe Verdi, one of the most famous and influential opera composers of the 19th century, and boasts a variety of acclaimed theatres, such as the Piccolo Teatro and the Teatro Arcimboldi; however, the most famous is the 1778 Teatro alla Scala, one of the most important and prestigious operahouses in the world.

Language




Apart from standardized Italian, Lombard is the local language of Lombardy. Lombard is a member of the Gallo-Italic group within the Romance languages. It is spoken natively in Northern Italy (most of Lombardy and some areas of neighbouring regions, notably the eastern side of Piedmont) and Southern Switzerland (Ticino and Graubünden).

The two main varieties (Western Lombard language and Eastern Lombard language) show differences and are often, but not always, mutually comprehensible. The union of Western Lombard or Insubric, Eastern Lombard and intermediate varieties under the denomination of "Lombard" is a matter of debate, and it has been argued that the two might potentially form separate languages.

Fashion



Lombardy has always been an important centre for silk and textile production, notably the cities of Pavia, Vigevano and Cremona, but Milan is the region's most important centre for clothing and high fashion. In 2009, Milan was regarded as the world fashion capital, even surpassing New York, Paris, Rome and London. Most of the major Italian fashion brands, such as Valentino, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana (to name a few), are currently headquartered in the city.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites



* Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci
* Crespi d'Adda
* Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
* Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy
* Cathedral and Torrazzo in Cremona
* Mantua and Sabbioneta


Source: Wikipedia