I was in Borno last month, a little village on the Alps, 125 km from Milan. I was sick of Milan, hot and as deserted as a ghost town, and was looking for something different: fresh air and good people. Borno proved to be the right place!
Here are a few things I recommend you to do, when leaving Milan:
- First, turn off your tom-tom, google maps or the like. Try the old-fashioned, yet useful, road maps. The countryside outside Milan is fantastic. Why should you worry about getting lost? Enjoy the landscape and the small towns you will pass through. Of course, pay attention to the road signs!
- Second, take nice pictures of the surroundings. I recommend you avoid the most crowded, boring motorways and choose the quieter but more surprising, and adventurous, provincial roads. These roads cross beautiful, little villages and take you straight to Bergamo and Brescia.
- Last, taste the local cuisine. Ask for traditional Lombardy dishes, try polenta, Casseula, and the like. The best way to keep a lasting memory of your trip, is to smell the perfumes and taste the flavor of the local food.
Both Bergamo and Brescia are lovely places to spend a one-day tour, by leaving Milan early in the morning and catching the last train at night. Historically, these towns were on very bad terms, because both wanted to rule over the same valley. But, today, past rivalries are (almost) forgotten and both Bergamo and Brescia reveal both their beautiful medieval identities and modern landscapes.
Okay. Now, back to our destination: Borno. Once, you are close to Brescia, keep heading north-east towards Boario. Check the road signs and make sure you are on Via Nazionale, which is one of the “provincial roads” I mentioned before.
Boario is a small town, famous for its thermal water, springing from the soil. Moreover, Boario is close to Lago d’Iseo, a wonderful lake, engulfed between mountains and hills. Its water is deep blue and its shores are green and sandy. I strongly recommend you to find a safe place to park, stop by the lake and enjoy the breeze coming out of it: it is something unique.
After passing Lago d’Iseo, keep going down via Nazionale. Borno is on your way now. Follow the signs to Ossimoco, a small village just before Borno, and keep going. After 10/15 minutes, you will reach your destination.
Once in Borno, look around you. If it is summertime, the village will be crowded, packed with people! Its center is small and picturesque: the town hall stands on one side, while there are restaurants all around the square. In front of the town hall, on the biggest side of the square, the cathedral towers at the end of a long stairway. In the center of the square a stone fountain pours fresh, gurgling water into a big pool.
Borno hosts many important events. The annual patron’s saint festival, for example, in August, offers a wide choice of local entertainment and eccentricities, such as the nocturnal torchlight procession to the edge of the mountain (named “Pizz Camì”, meaning “chimney top”) or the local “Palio di San Martino”, a medieval revival, with games, exhibitions, music and dances. To keep updated with Borno upcoming events, check the website of La Gazza Cultural Association, in Borno: http://www.lagazza.it/.
From the central square you can either walk down via Trieste, where there are shops, little restaurants and a few antique shops. Or, if you want to enjoy Borno night-life, you can find its bars in the nearby streets, offering good beers, hot meals and live music. There’s life, up here, no doubt about it!
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