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Italy Tour Pt. 1

DIS Copenhagen offers 3 weeks of breaks during the semester. One of the weeks is dedicated to students traveling with their core course, while the other weeks are breaks for students and people tend to use their time to travel. For Travel Week 1, I had the week off so I went to Italy with some friends! We went to Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Rome – all in the span of 9 days! (February 25 to March 7)

Day 0, Copenhagen:

We luckily snagged a 17$ flight to Milan and so we flew from 9:40 PM to 11:45 PM. After arriving to Bergamo Airport at midnight, we took a 1 hour, $10 shuttle to the city center (according to an Italian local, that’s the most efficient way to get there from that airport since going by taxi will take the same amount of time, but for at least 5x the price). From there, we had to take a taxi to the hotel that was a bit far from the city center, so we’d recommend staying in the city if you could find a good place! We settled in and rested before our big day tomorrow.

Day 1, Milan:

Starting our day at 9:00 AM, we took a bus to get to the city center. Compared to Copenhagen, the buses here weren’t as accurate and on time, so it was delayed much more and threw our timing off a bit. We ended up arriving into the city at 11:00 AM, so it was a good thing that we started our day early. The first thing we wanted to do was eat — so we went to Luini Panzerotti (fresh, pillow fried dough parcels stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients). There was quite a line when we got there, but it went by super quick and definitely worth checking out. I got the ham and cheese and the dough was just the correct, light consistency and paired with the hot and melted ham and cheese — chef’s kiss 👩🏻‍🍳. All for 2,5 euros! We ended up going back again and getting a variety since it was just so good.

After chomping down, we passed by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is one of the oldest and most extravagant shopping malls in Milan. The pictures say it all.

Once we were done exploring that, we went to a few shopping stores and I checked out Humana Vintage (awesome vintage store with great finds for a good price). Also, it’s a chain so they have them all over Italy! I will show my complete haul as you keep reading since I bought more clothes in Rome.

By 1 PM, we had an appointment to go into the Duomo (which I definitely recommend walking up as the Duomo is probably one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life). It was difficult to figure out which entrance to go into, but ultimately it was suggested that people go into the left side of the Duomo to visit the top, then eventually make your way inside. We bought an $18 ticket in advanced (which included climbing up the dome by stairs – kinda wished that I took a lift bc ngl it was tiring -, exploring inside the cathedral, and the underground ruins). People were also able to purchase tickets at the door and there isn’t a different line for people who have reservations so buying tickets in advanced didn’t matter as much. 

We went up the Duomo and climbed 919 STEPS to eventually arrive to the top. It was such a pretty view from the top and it was so nice to be able to take a closer look at the intricate details of the cathedral. I just honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing and it was just so beautiful to me. After exploring that side, we continued further up onto the actual roof which was a tad scary (I’m afraid of heights) and I worried about falling since the roof was slanted and didn’t provide a lot of grip for our shoes. We took it in, sat for a bit, then after we were done looking at the views from the top of the Duomo, we made our way down into the Cathedral.

The inside was also pretty but I definitely enjoyed the roof and hanging around outside of the Duomo much more. Afterwards, we were a bit hungry so we went out to look for a lunch spot. It was hard to find since it was 3 PM and most restaurants have a break in between lunch and dinner as it’s their transition period. So make sure to look at the time! And also, make sure to look up places to eat beforehand — most of the time, you’re gonna have a better experience eating based off of suggestions than walking by a restaurant and planning to eat there.

After lunch, we set our sights on gelato ice cream. Apparently, gelato ice cream tastes the best when it’s stored in one of those giant, aluminum pints compared to stores that have their ice cream on display (that’s how you know it’s legit!) We went to Venchi (one of the top gelato places we ate at) and I got a pistachio and chocolate scoop on a cone! The nice thing about these gelato places is that it doesn’t cost extra to buy a cone, and the price of an ice cream is much better compared to price in the U.S. (double scoop for 3,5 euros)!

Chocolate and pistachio scoop of ice cream with a raspberry cone.

After our ice cream excursion, we went to the Duomo museum which explained the history behind the Duomo — it also contained original sculptures that used to be in the Duomo! Now, there are replicas inside the Duomo since people were afraid that the originals would eventually crumble and might be a hazard for visitors.

Afterwards, we continued to explore around the city center at night. We also happened to be there during Milan Fashion Week and we found the location for the Bottega Show. Our friends saw Tracee Elliss Ross from Black-Ish. We were pretty tired after waiting for two hours, so we decided to leave, but if we had stayed longer, we would’ve seen Jacob Elordi!

To end the night, we ate at Piz. There were only three options and you could get a whole pizza for 7 euros! I had one of their original pizzas which contained marinera sauce, bits of parmesan, garlic cloves, and basil leaves, and I got an Italian Menabrea beer. Probably one of the best pizzas I had in Italy, and I loved how it was so flavorful, despite the simplicity of it.

Day 2 (Venice):

We woke up at 4 AM to leave for our train at 6:30 AM. Our taxi sped through from our hotel to the city center where our train was (Italians don’t really care about the speed limits 💀). We went on the train and catched some z’s. I honestly really prefer the morning trains because I felt like I still slept enough (with train naps) and still have the entire day to explore. 

We arrived at Venezia Mestre station which was a 5 minute walk away from A&O hostel — really nice place for a good price, and we had a private room to ourselves! Then, we took a bus that cost 1,5 euros and it was a straight shot to Venice. 

Upon arrival, we stumbled upon open stands that sold souvenirs (there are a whole bunch of these all over Venice). After that, we decided to go into the labyrinth that is Venice. The canals were so beautiful and I loved the simple, homey, architecture with fall tones. You just go into random alley ways and find a variety of shops. 

We went to Dolce Vita for breakfast which was YUM. Fresh croissants with a soft, yet right amount of flaky texture. Best croissants I’ve had in my life. Not only that, but they cut it open and fill that up with a filling of your choice: cream, chocolate, or pistachio. I’ve learned that pistachio is essentially Italy’s staple flavor, similar to how vanilla and chocolate are in the U.S. Their coffee was also great – no milk needed!

We continued to explore and walked to the Rialto Bridge. It’s a huge bridge compared to the myriad of smaller bridges all over Venice. It’s also the only way to cross over from one island to the other part of the island in Venice on foot as people usually take the water taxi to get across. Walking is definitely a much longer option.

We were hungry and I remembered seeing a youtube video where people recommended getting Tramezzini Italian Finger Sandwiches so I got a piece of the ham, salami, and egg sandwich for 2 euros each. We were also here during Fastelavn (holiday celebrated all over the EU) so, many people were dressed up and I took a photo with these fancy looking people!

Then, our gondola ride was at 2 PM, so we hopped on and went around for 30 minutes. We booked one in advanced and it’s almost double the amount it would cost to reserve it online than to buy one in person. So if you want to go on a gondola ride, make sure to just book a ticket in person! Other than that, it was still a nice ride around the Rialto Bridge.

After the gondola ride, we had time to explore the area a bit and so we walked around St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs. We also went to the Libreria Acqua Alta and it’s unique since books are all over this bookstore. You can see how some of these books have endured the Venice floods and still remain standing!

Before dinner, we knew that Italy is known for their Aperol Spritz and we were luckily able to find a shop that sold them for 2 euros each! (the best deal you’re going to find since most go for at least 2,50 or 3. 

We lounged there for a bit (which was a good pit stop to chill and charge our phones) and then went to dinner. Tip: always try to make a reservation for dinner — most places were packed during dinner time and the only places to eat had outdoor seating which is rough when it’s cold outside! We ended up eating at Murono and I got Veal Cheeks with Spaghetti which was pretty yummy, though I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant per se.

Day 3 (Venice):

The next day, the first thing on our list was to visit St. Mark’s Basilica. We bought tickets ahead of time for 18 euros, but it seemed like people could buy tickets at the door as well. To get there, we took a vaporetto which was super pretty (and better than the gondola imo) and it was a wonderful way to start our day. The basilica was very beautiful from the inside and outside as well. (Tbh, I enjoyed the outside way more because of how grande and detailed it was). 

Afterwards, we had tickets to St. Mark’s Campanile (which is very much worth it if you enjoy the views). It was pretty chilly up there so after taking it all in, we decided to head back down.

Then we explored that area in Venice since our next appointment with tickets was at 4:00 PM. While passing by shops, we were hungry so I bought a croquet because it intrigued me. I also got some cicchetti which is another Italian snack and it’s basically mini pieces of bread with toppings and I got one with sardines and onions, salami and mushrooms, and tomato with squid (my favorite among the three!)

We then arrived at Doge Palace and got to explore the inside. It’s absolutely massive and has really impressive and beautiful looking ceilings.

To end the night, we had booked a reservation at 7:00 PM at Osteria Mocenigo and I got the black spaghetti (which was the best Italian food I had the entire trip). Disclaimer: I’m not really sure what it was, but it wasn’t black ink spaghetti and it just had so much more flavors than typical spaghetti. I also really enjoyed the addition of fresh tomatoes and shrimp.

Day 4 (Florence):

Florence is a very cute and small city so we decided to stay for one night. Upon arrival, I noticed how it was very much a small town compared to the other cities we visited. The buildings were also beautiful and I loved that it had the same beige and brown tones. We checked into our Airbnb which was smack in the middle of the city (a great idea as everything is close by so I would recommend that).

Our first mission of the day was to get lunch! On the way, we found little shops with stands that sold a variety of things: earrings, clothes, bags, etc. Halfway into the street, we arrived at Mercato Centrale – a marketplace with a variety of fresh foods and restaurant stands. Mirka and I got a meal from La Nigro which served their famous Italian Beef Tripe Sandwich (so bomb!!!) and Pasta Fresca where we got Beef Ragu Pasta (also a W).

After lunch, it was time to see the building at the heart of Florence – the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence! It’s gigantic and I really enjoyed admiring the details from the outside. We waited in line to go inside which was also nice, plus it’s free 😛

Once we finished exploring, we went to see the David which was grand and beautiful in person. I was surprised by how big it was!

Ending the night, we went to Piazza della Repubblica which contains a beautiful, lit-up carousel. Next to it, you can find this big arch which is similar to the original one in Paris (Arc de Triomphe). Ponte Vecchio was also worth visiting if you enjoy rivers.

There wasn’t much happening at night, but we ended up at a bar called The Old Stove and it was weird and surprisingly lit up (strange for a bar). Nightlife in Italy be lacking a little, but we still wanted to check it out!

So that’s it for now and I feel like I’ve been writing for quite some time now, soooo, I’m going to split the rest of this trip in another part. To be continued!

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