In our almost six years of dating, Brian and I have never taken an overseas together, just the two of us. It was one of the best vacations I've had in a longggg time! We spent 9 days total in Italy, staying in Milan and making day trips to other cities. I've decided to organize the post by city and write about the highlights of each one!
It's true you don't need more than a few days in Milan, which is why we took day trips to other cities. I really enjoyed coming back to Milan at the end of the day because I loved the posh city feel, and they also have great restaurants that stay open late! And there are always gorgeous buildings on every corner. It was a dream to photograph.
Duomo di Milano
The Milan Cathedral is SO impressive and definitely a must-see. It's a sight to behold from any angle. I was captivated every time I saw a glimpse of it from an alleyway or a building across the street. It's also where you get this magnificent terrace view, which made it feel like I just climbed a staircase to heaven. Or take the elevator, if you're lazy.
Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
I wish I had better photos of this place, but I was too in awe after we stumbled upon it on our way to find a park (we never made it to the park). I never thought I'd say a cemetery is a must-see, but it truly is. All the tombs here are so extravagant and impressive. It's like walking into a palace garden for the dead.
These two residential towers are known as the vertical forest. As you can imagine, all the greenery helps keep the air clean! There are over 900 trees, or 10,000 square meters of forest, on the buildings. It's such an amazing structure to see when passing by in a bus, and even more amazing approaching it up close!
This contemporary art museum freaked me the f out, but it was so awesome. There was a live performance by artist Laure Prouvost, who had a solo exhibition called Grand Dad's Visitor Center. It was freaky and full of boobs. But in addition to that, the permanent installation, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, was incredible. The sheer size of the paintings and towers made you want to tip-toe everywhere.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
This outdoor mall is amazing to walk through! It's got a Prada across from a Prada... how much more mall can it get.
I wish I had aesthetic photos for all the good food we ate, but I was too busy devouring everything. Instead, I'll describe a few of our favorite restaurants we ate at!
Piz - They only serve 3 types of pizzas (margherita, bianca, and marinara). Brian and I split the margherita and bianca. I recommend the bianca because it was one of the BEST pizzas I had while in Italy. It was a 30 minute wait, but they give you free prosecco and samplers while you wait. They also give you lots of free shots after you pay... great way to start our trip!
da Oscar - Great old-fashioned Italian food. We lucked out by walking in early (7:30pm, right when they open for dinner) because normally you have to make a reservation. You sit at a communal table with all the other guests when you eat, so don't be afraid to bump elbows with strangers! I also did not know Oscar was known for being a fascist until I saw all the Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin decor... but that didn't stop me from enjoying the food. And apparently Oscar is super friendly to everyone.
Pavé - I don't like pastries or sweets but that's probably because they're way too sweet and overpowering in the US... When I ate them here, it was HEAVEN. Super fresh, light, and everything made in-house. They also had healthy meals (salad bowls and salmon sandwiches), which I really appreciated after all the pizza and pasta. It's a great place for breakfast, lunch, dessert, and coffee!
oTTo - We stopped here in the morning for a light breakfast because we didn't know that "brunch" wasn't until 12:30pm. But the decor is to die for!! They're also a cocktail bar.
On our second day in Italy, we did a day trip to Venice! And honestly, that's all you need there. It's really small and everything closes early, but I got so many good photos out of it! After touring around, we only had a quick lunch break before our gondola ride. The only restaurant I had been recommended was closed on Sundays (Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go)! Overall not my favorite city, but it was beautiful.
We almost didn't put Cinque Terre on our list, but after planning out Milan, we found that we had a full empty day... so we booked our train tickets to Cinque Terre! Our first stop was Manarola. We had originally planned to hike south to Riomaggiore, but the trail was closed due to falling rocks. Instead, we bought one-way tickets north to Vernazza and then to Monterosso for a few bucks each. It's so cheap to get around to the different coastal towns here, and it doesn't take more than a few minutes each way! Definitely hit up more than one of the towns if you're in the area!
As I mentioned before, I booked our train tickets straight to Manarola since that's where the iconic Cinque Terre photos are taken. It did NOT disappoint! We ate at Aristide right after we arrived. It's a great seafood restaurant that you reach right when you walk out of the tunnels from the train. The mussels were SO fresh!
Then we walked around the streets, drank some espressos, and ate gelato by the seaside until it was time for our next train.
Vernazza was super cool! There's a small tunnel leading to the rocky beach, and it felt like we were in a storybook. I loved the views looking back at the cliffside!
This color palette though...
Our original tickets back to Milan departed from Monterosso, so we ended our Cinque Terre tour here. We ate an early dinner by the sea and just watched people on the beach until it was time to go back. It was beautiful!!
Lake Como was another day trip that Brian planned out for us. It was an amazing day! We ate reallly great pizza at Beretta (they cut it up for you!), climbed 2.5km to a lighthouse, and sailed across the lake!
You can't visit Europe without going to another country, right? We opted for a tour, which took us through the quaint Italian town of Tirano right before the border. There were so many mountainside vineyards! We climbed up a little bit for a view of the city.
Then it was off to Switzerland on the Bernina Express! It was a scenic ride the whole way, and I think I was standing most of the time to soak it all in. Afterward, we grabbed coffee in St. Moritz with a view of the mountains.
Everything was so beautiful, and it was a much needed vacation!! I feel so refreshed and inspired!