It is not a joke: Milano does have a few spots where the water is crystal clear, the nature is green and the fun is guaranteed :) By driving out of the city for less than 100 km, you could get to many beautiful spots that will make you forget about the busy city life and heavy air. These spots are definitely not known among not-Italians but they are truly a must see, especially if you have just a day or a few hours. I recommend renting a car since not all of them are accessible by public transportation and you will definitely spare time.
In the provinces of Piacenza, Pavia, Alessandria and Genova, Val Trebbia is a valley that gets its name from the Trebbia River.
This river is one of the cleanest in Italy and its waters are blue and green and warm. It offer many beaches as well, some of them are long and sandy, some others are more rocky and secluded... which means you really get to choose you favourite spot among many! By the Trebbia river you can find many places for adventures too, such as the canoeing or visiting the canyon or even fishing or climbing.
Many small villages around the river are nice to visit as well, especially if you are hungry and you want to have a good gelato or a pizza. The locals there will help you finding the right place and the right beach!
That is right: Lake Como is just a few km away from Milan and definitely worth a trip because of its stunning nature and towns!
Take a walk in the city of Como whose city centre tells many stories and dates back to the Medieval age.
Make sure to drive along the shore to enjoy beautiful views and have a stroll in the many towns and small villages along the way. They are lovely and you will have the chance to buy many local products and delicacies in the many local shops.
Food is also great around Como. Fresh-water-fish dishes as well as risotti and wine are very popular and delicious!
This valley is situated in Vertova (province of Bergamo) along the Serio River and it is known for its mountain landscape and beauty.
Val Vertova is easy to access by car and it offers a large parking (but it might get crowded in summer week ends) as well as a vaste green field with a café where you can get ice-cream and drinks. Once you start getting into the forest, you will not find cafes anymore, just beautiful water and views!
You can do the easy hike that will take you up in the valley (doable with children as well) and enjoy swimming, diving, running and much more. Be careful because rocks can be slippery and the water is not very warm! There are many rock-pools and waterfalls (some higher than others) but you can also have a pic-nic on the grass next to the river bed. This is a very cool spot, definitely worth the trip from Milan or from Bergamo.
Just a few km from Milan, you can get to the Liguria Region which offers lovely cities such as Genova, Ventimiglia and Sanremo as well as world-known itineraries such as the Cinque Terre. Liguria has many beaches that you can easily access and that are lovely.
Finale Ligure is just one of the many examples where a nice town meets a wonderful nature and sea. Here there is a beach with calm blue water and with many services such as cafes', restaurants and shops that would rent out beach equipment.
Trofie al pesto, focaccia and ice-cream are a must-eat too. They are very good and very typical of this region.
Make sure to visit the Finale Ligure many castles and churches and have a stroll in its many fascinating little streets!