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Italia: Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome

February 16, 2012

We had a two week break in between my intensive month classes and my immersion classes, so Alexa, Lily, Polly (for the weekend in Florence), and I decided to spend a week in beautiful Italy. Here’s a recap from my trip. Brace yourself, it’s a long one.


Playing in the snow (for the first time) in Milan

We first flew into Milan from Madrid (11€ aka $14.50 flight ftw). When we got there IT WAS SNOWING! And it literally did not stop snowing the entire time we were there. Theme of Italy — it was FREEZING! We would walk around the city and go into a store to shop to escape the cold. Walk around some more, go get gelato. Walk around some more, shop some more (p.s. this is really dangerous for someone like me who loves shopping).

Highlight of Milan though was meeting up with Lily’s friend who is from Milan who studied abroad at her school last year. We met him at the Duomo earlier in the day, got lunch, and then later that night we met up with him again and he took us over to his house where we met his family. They were seriously so nice (his mom cooked us pasta and then invited us to their vacation home in the south of Italy — hello!) After dinner we left the house and walked around the city as it was snowing. Even though I was freezing it was so beautiful that it didn’t even matter. We were in Milan, Italy, it was snowing, and I couldn’t believe it was real life.


My favorite canal picture 

After spending one day and night in Milan we were off to Venice. When we got to Venice, our hostel advised us that it is very easy to get lost in Venice — and boy were they right! Especially without a map. But it was seriously so beautiful. I loved all the old colorful buildings and narrow winding streets — I would not mind getting lost there and wandering around. Unfortunately we only had 24 hours here so we didn’t have time for that.

That night we (reluctantly) decided to check out St. Mark’s Basilica (reluctantly only because it was even more cold in Venice thanks to the nice windchill). After our faces were literally numb from the cold, we decided to get tiramasu near the Rialto Bridge — it was the most delicious tiramasu I’ve ever had, but also the most expensive… whoops.

On the next day, we woke up early (for us at least) to make the most of our day since we only had a few hours until our next train left. There is something so beautiful about the morning light which makes me wish I was a morning person – and the fact that we were in Venice made it incredible. After a quick cappuccino for breakfast, we decided to go back to St. Mark’s Basilica during the day and then went up the bell tower. The bell tower had beautiful views but it was so windy and so cold — probably the coldest I have ever been in my life. After our quick tour around Venice we headed to the train station for Florence.


Bundled up in Florence: Polly, Lily, Alexa, and me| Photo Credit: Alexa

We arrived in Florence Friday afternoon and stayed there until Monday morning and I am so happy we had the whole weekend to spend there because I love this city! Even though it’s a major city it has a small town feel and I absolutely loved it. The highlight of Florence was having some great recommendations thanks to knowing and meeting people who live/lived here before.

One of the girls who I went on this trip with, Alexa, has a friend whose aunt is a native Florentine. She was gracious enough to offer her time and show us around the city — bonus points: she’s an art historian! How lucky are we? When we met up with her, we decided to visit the Uffizi instead of taking a tour of the city thanks to it being the coldest day in Florence in the past 47 years (How did we get so lucky? -__-).

The Uffizi was amazing though especially since we had a private tour with someone who has studied art all of her life. Even though we only saw a small part of the museum, I was able to appreciate it thanks to all the wonderful information she was able to share with us. Quality over quantity definitely applied in this situation. I had such a great appreciation for art that I had never had before thanks to this tour.

After the tour she invited us over to her house to eat lunch with her family — a delicious meal of pasta, real salad (real meaning not just iceburg lettuce), and fruit. It was seriously such a nice gesture and we had a blast meeting the family and getting away from downtown Florence.

The best pizza of my life

Another highlight of Florence was the food. Because we had great recommendations from the family as well as some friends who had studied abroad there we ate like royalty. My top meals were our pizza from Gusta Pizza (see photo above), our gelatto from La Carraia (the best that I had in all of Italy- and I had a lot to compare it to), and this spaghetti that I tried called Drunkard Spaghetti (which was spaghetti soaked in red wine — sounds weird but it was something so unique and really delicious!).

On our last day in Florence we went to go see the David (a statue by Michelangelo) — and wow was it worth it! I have never been so impressed by any work of art ever in my life. When we walked into the room and turned the corner I was immediately in awe. I could not get over the talent and time that must have gone into something so magnificent and detailed. It was truly breathtaking and something that I definitely recommend people to see while in Florence.



Our last stop on our Italian vacation was to Rome. When we first got there our first plan was to visit the Colosseum. Right when you get off the metro, you turn the corner and the Colosseum is right in front of you — so unreal! After walking around it and taking pictures, we asked someone where we could enter. Sadly, he said we couldn’t because it was closed that day thanks to the snow (again, we made history by being in Rome after it had snowed for the first time in 20 years).

One of the tourist attractions that we visited in Rome was the Capitoline Museum which houses ancient artwork. It was a really interesting museum and I definitely enjoyed it – especially all the sculptures. We of course went to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps a few times and they were both gorgeous! We went both in the day and the night and I have to say I love visiting touristy places at night because they are far less crowded (but sadly my camera can’t capture the beauty of them at night).

St. Peter’s Basilica — kind of wish I would have waited for these people to get out of the shot. Oh well…

On our last day in Rome we visited the Vatican — specifically St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums (read Sistine Chapel). Even though we had seen plenty of churches throughout Italy, St. Peter’s was simply breathtaking. The grand scale of this church was impressive and so beautiful. After our walk through the church we went over to see the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel was a lot smaller than I had imagined and it was interesting because it was just another room in the museum rather than being a separate building. Even though it wasn’t what I expected it was still incredible to imagine the amount of work that must have gone into painting all of those people and images — conclusion from the trip: Michelangelo was gifted.

After our trip to the Vatican we headed over to pick up our favorite paninis and dessert ravioli from a little local bakery we found for our trip home. So delicious! As much as we enjoyed our trip, by the end of this day we were exhausted and excited to return back to good ol’ Salamanca.


I LOVE ITALY! Here’s why:

  • The people are so nice! Everywhere we went people were willing to help a lost tourist and they always said “ciao” and “grazie ciao”  with a smile as we entered and left.
  • The food is delicious! This was the first time I had been 100% full and satisfied with a meal since being in Europe. Yummmm….
  • Everything is so beautiful! There is so much history, the architecture is magnificent, the art is immaculate… I can go on & on.
  • The shopping is to die for! I picked up some great pieces while being here – namely some great Murona glass post earrings, a black blazer from Zara, a pair of denim shorts (yes, even though I was the coldest I had ever been in my life I still bought a pair of shorts — California girl through and through), some BEAUTIFUL Italian leather oxfords, a new coat (FINALLY), and a cute sundress that I can’t wait to wear once it warms up.
  • The people are beautiful! So nicely dressed, dark hair, light eyes– ughh I died.

In short — I’ll definitely be back!

One Comment leave one →
  1. stella permalink
    February 27, 2012 7:51 pm

    I’m glad you liked Italy!

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