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Travel Tips – North Italy in a week?!

Hello! Long time no post, I’ve been busy inspiration searching and that involved travelling! In my usual ‘two-birds-with-one-stone’ fashion, it was also a birthday trip curtesy of ma madré (big thank you mum!) But Italy was also on her bucket list!! So let get stuck right into it!

So I like to squeeze in as much as I can when I go on holiday to a new destination, check out the Singapore in a weekend blog here. So when we went to stay in Milan for 6 nights we squeezed in day trips all around the north of Italy to experience lots of snippets from each place.

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Flying past the Swiss Alps

Packing

Always check the airline that you’re flying with for luggage restrictions. We flew with Easy Jet so they have a policy for one small hand luggage and an option to add one checked 20kg luggage bag. We originally were not going to even add a suitcase! But we ended up sharing one, thank god because we forgot to factor in shopping and souvenirs! I always pack heavier and bulkier things when the weather is cooler, so it helps to check the weather at the destination before you pack.

I tried to plan for a few outfit photos so I packed a heel boot… that I didn’t even wear! So I recommend just packing flats and comfortable shoes if you plan on doing a lot of walking like we did.

I also found that I could contact the hotel before hand and check what amenities they already had there so I could probably pack less i.e. shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion, cotton pads, slippers etc. So it would’ve been handy if I didn’t need to carry a bottle of body wash, but anything that I’m picky about I just took a travel size version.

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One of the grand hotels in Milan

Hotel

We chose a hotel and flight package on lastminute.com but we booked at like 1am in the morning (never do that!) so we only had photographs of the hotel to go on. Thankfully it was the most beautiful hotel, Starhotel E.C.H.O. It’s super eco friendly with all the heating sourced etc. They even had sustainable tips on a card in each room to help. Even their restaurant locally sources their ingredients! You can check out their video explaining the E.C.H.O here.

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Getting around Milan is pretty easy

Getting around Milan

I got the heads up that public transport will go on strike with little notice before hand, and with my luck they really did whilst we were there! But we still managed to suss out how to use the Metro which is the public underground train. It’s a lot less complicated than the London tube as you only need to know the two stops at either end of the three lines, and you could probably work it all out from there. We mostly used the green line which went through the main Centerale FS station which had an abundance of newsagents. All sold the majority of the tickets for bus, Metro and tram,  along with all of the different ticket machines.

Most people spoke english being the big city centre that it is, and you could even chose the preferred language on the ticket machines once you located the right one! The most popular Metro lines tend to run from 6am – midnight, so outside of these times I would recommend taking a local taxi. Bare in mind a taxi can take around 10mins to arrive or you can find a taxi rank nearby any main station or just outside the famous Duomo cathedral.

I did find having a tube map helped, but I also love these apps whenever I travel anywhere:

  • City Mapper – although it’s not the best for Italy, you can see routes from A to B!
  • Google Maps – the good old map pal
  • SpeakEasy Italian – Unfortunately I didn’t get to exercise my Italian much (or lack of) but it was handy if you ever need help as it does not need internet connection to work.

If you can arrange for internet roaming abroad with your network provider it will help if you get lost in this digital age.

Day Trips

On the first day we needed to know our surroundings so we booked in at our hotel recommended travel agent Zani Viaggi for the Grande Tour de Milano, which was a great morning trip to the most famous landmarks.

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Milan is a big city!

Day 2 was the public transport strike so we had to hop on a taxi to the meeting point to catch the coach. Being in the capital city of fashion you HAVE to go to a shopping outlet! Unfortunately, Serravalle shopping outlet seemed too similar to the Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet (they’re owned by the same company) that’s local to me back in the UK so I decided on FoxTown.

Little did I know it was in Switzerland! It was a great experience having found a YSL and Versace outlet that had prices up to 70% off! But even then most items were still around £500+! I did manage to find a leather skirt I liked but they only had one faulty one left! I would like to go back to Switzerland for a romantic cliché ski holiday with a cheese fondue in front of a fire (and shopping!)

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The views of Lake Como were breathtaking!

A visit to lake Como was planned for day 3 as all of the tickets for Florence was sold out for that morning, however both places are exceptionally beautiful! I took a good 70% of my 1000+ photos around the lake because it was just that picturesque! We did find the famous Seta (silk) shop in Como, but I only managed to check out half of the shop before we were rushed onto the boat to Bellagio! But that just means I will have to go back again to see the other half of the shop!

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Venice and their well-known gondolas

For the last full day in Italy we had pre-booked a Venice day trip because it was only available on the Sunday during the 6 days we went for, and it was the one place that I really wanted to visit! Venice is such a different city, which was made apparent when we had to get off the coach at a manmade island (built mostly for all of the tourists parking!) to then take a boat over to the district.

Unfortunately, most shops are closed on Sunday but all of the tourist places were open. This meant that it was HEAVING with tourists, and it didn’t help that there was a marathon going on at the same time! The trip was a great quick overview of Venice, as I would recommend a little educational show around by a local guide for the first time there. You learn a lot from locals, but I think the beauty of visiting Venice is getting lost in the labyrinth of streets and leisurely discovering new ‘calle’ (street/s)! As my mum experienced (she got confused with all of the guides having the same flags and got lost for a few minutes!) This is definitely on my list of places to revisit as the 6 hours we spent there was not nearly enough!

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We HAD to try the local gelato!

Eating Out and About

I love to try all of the local food wherever I go, but having been on mostly tourist trips to the usual tourist places we paid the inflated prices! I always like to wonder around for a few minutes to compare the prices, since most of the restaurants have the same popular Italian dishes. I tried to visit the recommended restaurants, but when you’re doing so much exploring you get tired and just want to eat anything that’s close by! I did thankfully try local risotto, fish & meats, traditional stone baked pizza and gelato! It’s true that the gelato tastes amazing in Italy because they make it fresh and the flavour is mind blowing!

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II opened in 1877 and is the worlds oldest shopping mall!

Can you do north Italy in a week?

You definitely can if you are fit and able to zip from place to place to get a quick taste of each city/country (mum got tried very easily). I definitely recommend going for longer so you can really savour and enjoy each place. I like leaving something to do and explore in places I would like to revisit. I definitely learnt a lot on this trip, especially about the Duomo and Last Supper painting. I didn’t know the colour of the Duomo varies because it’s made of pink marble, and that the Last Supper was painted on a kitchen wall! Although, the staple food in Italy isn’t my favourite (pizza and pasta isn’t my first choice) as I prefer a lighter meals i.e. veggies and fruit. I absolutely LOVE the pastries and antipasti options there! Everything Italian always tastes better in Italy!

Check out the travel vlog here.

Ciao!

-Rinniboo

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