On the banks of the Ticino River, just south of Milan, is Pavia: a peaceful, Medieval town that serves as a relaxing alternative to the bustle of Milan or the snobbery of the Lakes region. There is an exceptional amount of old architecture here, although out of the hundred watchtowers that the area was once known for, only a few remain to this day on the Piazza di Leonardo da Vinci.
The seat of power in Italy over a thousand years ago, you'll still sense its past grandeur through tours of the Cathedral of Pavia, the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, and the Church of St. Michael, all of which are located the heart of the city. To the north of the city, you'll encounter the most famous landmark associated with Pavia, Certosa di Pavia, a 14th century monastery that houses an order of Carthusian monks on a massive estate.
The peaceful boulevards of Pavia are a great getaway from faster paced Milan; take at least a day to live the leisurely dream of a stroll on Strada Nuovo and a coffee on the Piazza della Vittoria.