From Venice, we traveled by train for approximately two hours to Milan (pronounced 'Milano' in Italian). It is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy as well as of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area is the 5th largest in the European Union and the largest in Italy with an estimated population of more than 4.3 million. Milan is recognized as a major fashion and design center, and is home to Milan Fashion Week
. It also is home to important museums, theaters (most notably opera), and landmarks that help the city attract its 2 million visitors annually.
From our hotel, we enjoyed a nice walk
through Parco Sempione until we found Ristorante Pizzaria Momus
on Via Arco. Momus was the perfect place for us to stop and eat lunch as we felt right at home with the local businessmen who were enjoying their lunchtime break (with some beer or vino). We all had amazing meals, and Katie enjoyed one of the largest calzones we have ever seen!
Like most cities in Italy, Milan and its surrounding area has its own regional cuisine, which, as it is typical for Lombard cuisines, uses more frequently rice than pasta, and features almost no tomato. After lunch, we continued walk as we strolled through the streets of Milan to the city's Duomo (or
cathedral). Dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary Nascent), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Cardinal Angelo Scola. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory. It was truly a remarkable site.
Next to the Duomo, we visited the Milanese Galleria (or Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II),
which is a shopping area in the center of Milan. The structure is formed by two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. Built from 1865-1877, the arching glass and cast iron roof that covers the street was the prototype for larger glazed shopping areas. The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome. The Milanese Galleria was larger in scale than its predecessors and was an important step in the evolution of the modern, enclosed shopping mall. It has inspired the use of the term galleria for many other shopping arcades and malls. While there, we said hello to Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.
After our window shopping at the Galleria, we walked back to our hotel taking in numerous boutiques and galleries along the way. Our last stop before entering our hotel was Lipstick Vintage
that was directly across the street from our hotel. We all went crazy for the amazing vintage finds from Chanel to Gucci to Versace to Pucci. This store has incredible things.
The decision on where to eat for our final Italian dinner together (Donna and Katie were leaving the next morning) was an important one. Fortunately, mom and Katie led us just around the block from our hotel to La Libera
. This quaint restaurant served delicious traditional Italian specialties, seasonal, meat and fish. Plus we had the most amazing server ever! She was from Austria and had two young sons. She said she desperately needed and Girls Getaway and told us to contact her when we head to Australia. During dinner we all stated what our "high" of the trip was and what our "low" was. For me, the high point was every new memory we created and every time the four of us laughed and loved together. These moments are absolutely irreplaceable!
Because the four of us had such an amazing trip together, we had already started talking about where we wanted to travel to together in 2013. We all started to settle on Istanbul. To cement our decision, the first book I saw when I walked into La Libera was on Istanbul. It is fate, and we all had to take our final photo together in Italy with the book.
As Donna and Katie left us the next morning, my mom and I boarded a train to Como
to experience the beautiful Lake Como area (George Clooney has a villa here). Once we arrived by train, we hopped in a taxi that took us to our home for our last two nights in Italy, the Hotel Terminus
, that was born from the complete renovation of the first 900 buildings in Como. It has retained the style and comfortable taste typical of the Lombard aristocracy. Today, the Terminus serves clientele who enjoy the lovely location on the shores of Lake Como, in the heart of the city.
After checking into our hotel, we walked to the Piazza Cavour and found the perfect place to eat and sip vino, Touring Cafe
. From there, we walked through the historic streets of Como to the Duomo and shopped the markets, boutiques, stores and galleries. Here you will find everything from leather goods to Italian silk to dried fruits and meats.
For dinner, our hotel recommended Trattoria del Gesumin
that was within walking distance of our hotel. This family-operated restaurant provided traditional and seasonal cuisine and was just what we were looking for. The wine and Wild Boar Bruschetta was awesome!
The next day we boarded the boat taxi for a
tour of Lake Como and a stop at the town of Bellagio
, which known as the Pearl of Como. This little jewel of a town lies on the narrow strip of land that divides Lake Como into two branches. The town is famous for its traditional, narrow streets, its steep steps, its hotels, restaurants and shops, as well as for its Neo-Classical villas that are surrounded by magnificent gardens. During our boat ride we met Angelo who is from Bellagio and now splits his time between Bellagio and Florida (how ironic). He and his wife have a travel agency specializing in Italian vacations. He was nice enough to invite us to join him for a cup of cappuccino and gave us advice for exploring Bellagio. Although the weather that day was dreary and rainy, we were determined to shop and sight see in Bellagio. From town
we walked to Villa Melzi to see the beautiful gardens and flowers. We didn't pay admission to enter but enjoyed our stroll and the quick glimpse of one of the region's most popular attractions.
For our lunch, we stopped at Angelo's recommendation of Ristorante Bilacus that has been operating since 1963. It was a relaxing and enjoyable lunch in a lovely dining room.
We packed our things and enjoyed a fairly low key night back at Touring Cafe
that turns into a hip and trendy bar for the locals. Before we turned in for the night, we thought we would have one more glass of vino at our hotel's restaurant. As soon as we walked in, my mom and I almost fell over. Our server looked
exactly like George Clooney!!! We found out his name is Mauricio and he has been featured in several magazines as George Clooney's Italian Double. We had a great time with Mauricio as he showed us his Clooney look-a-like materials and brought us the final treat from the Tiramisu Trail...he said it was The Best!