Lombardy (Lombardia in Italian) on the North of Italy is one of the Italian regions covering approximately the centre of the Po Valley, while it is extending over the middle of the Italian Alps. Milan is the capital of Lombardia.
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Lombardy borders with Switzerland to the north, Emilia-Romagna to the south, Piedmont to the west and Trentino-Alto Adige and Venetia to the east.
The region (23,856 sq km.) is the fourth in size in Italy, however it is unquestionably the most densely populated (c. 8,879,000). The population density (372 inhabitants per sq.km) makes Lombardy the second region, after Campania. 1/14 of the country's entire population is concentrated in the Province of Milan.
The plains of Lombardy, formed from alluvial deposits, can be divided into "upper" (permeable ground) and "lower" to the south of the so-called line of "fontanili" the spring waters rising on impermeable ground. Anomalous compared with the three distinctions already made is the "Oltrepò Pavese", the Preapennine hills beyond the Po River.
A number of rivers, all direct or indirect tributaries of the Po, cross the Plains of Lombardy. Major rivers, flowing west to east, are the Ticino, the outlet of Lake Maggiore, 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.
The climate in Lombardy is continental with variations depending on the altitude or the presence of inland waters. The nature of the climate is more accentuated on the plains, with high annual temperature changes (at Milan an average January temperature is 1.5 ºC and 24 ºC in July) and thick fog between October and February.
The Prealpine 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.-1.4 ºC average in January, 17.3 ºC in July). Precipitations are more frequent in the Prealpine zone (up to 1,500-2,000 mm. annually) than on the plains and Alpine zones (600 mm. to 850 mm. annually).
By tradition, the main tourist attractions in Lombardy, apart from Milan and the other main towns, are the great Alpine lakes and this detracts from the scenic and artistic attractions of the mountains and plains.