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Interesting small cities very near Milan

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I'm looking for a town or small city that is VERY near Milan and very easily reached by frequent train service from Milan, and where I might like to stay for a night or two after a trans-Atlantic flight to Milan, before heading to the Italian lakes. I know that Bergamo fits that description, and is a possibility. However, I have been there (on a day trip only), so I might like to see someplace new--to me. I know I'd like to visit Pavia, which I'm sure must be very easy to reach by train from Milan, and I'm wondering whether that would be a pleasant overnight stop. Has anyone here stayed in Pavia? Did you enjoy it? Any comments about Cremona? Mantua?

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