Founded by the Romans as a military garrison, Pavia has long been a strategic city both geographically and politically. Its university is considered one of the best in Italy, with previous alumni including explorer Christopher Columbus and physicist Alessandro Volta.
Named 'pleasant place' (Placentia) by the Romans, Piacenza soon proved itself to be an important strategic location as well. Just short of the regional border with Lombardy, the contemporary city is perfect day-trip fodder. Its picturesque centre reveals a beautiful Gothic town hall and a couple of august churches.
Capital of an essentially agricultural province, Lodi was founded in the 12th century on the south bank of the Adda river after the original town was destroyed by the Milanese army. The old town centre, with its stately architecture, cobblestone lanes and attractive cafe-dotted squares, is well worth a visit.
These are the top experiences and sights in Pavia, Piacenza and Lodi, according to Lonely Planet.