Lombardia has been settled since at least the 2nd millennium BCE, as shown by the archaeological findings of ceramics, arrows, axes and carved stones. In the following centuries, it was inhabited by different peoples, such as Etruscans who founded the city of Mantua, and spread the use of writing. These people settled in several cities (including Milan) and extended their rule to the Adriatic Sea. In later years, when Roman culture and language overwhelmed the former civilization, Lombardia 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 in Lomberdia. It was in Lombardy, in 313 CE, that emperor Constantine issued the famous edict that gave freedom of confession to all religions within the Empire.
Lombardia 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 Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci (Milan), the Accademia Carrara (Bergamo), the Museo di Santa Giulia (Brescia), the Volta Temple (Como), and the Stradivari Museum (Cremona).
Lombardia 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, 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.
Lombardia is Italy’s leading industrial region, as well as the most populous. It is home to three distinct landscapes: fertile flatlands, verdant foothills, and snowy mountains. Rice and corn thrive in the northern climate, resulting in a rich repertoire of risottos and polentas. Veal, beef, butter, and cows’ milk cheeses appear at nearly every meal, and sweetwater fish caught in Lombardia’s many lakes round out the diet. Rice is often found in soups as well as risotti, such as “risotto alla Milanese,” with saffron. Regional cheeses include robiola, crescenza, taleggio, gorgonzola and grana padano (the plains of central and southern Lombardia allow intensive cattle-raising). Butter and cream are used instead of solely olive oil which is more typical of southern Italy.