OK so there may have been something about Mary in the late 90’s, but since the middle of 2012, for me – there’s something about Italia! Every time the wheels of the budget airline I’m crammed on to with my 7kg carry-on luggage and lonely planet guide in hand, touch down in Italy I instantly feel content.
As my favourite trips often are, our adventure to Italy was booked on a whim. We needed a winter pick me up and thankfully Skyscanner came through with the goods allowing us to book return tickets to Milan for £29. We took the easy way to the airport on the Stansted Express for only £9 (book online in advance with your sidekick to reap the cheap rewards). Two and a half hours later, after battling altitude with a seriously bad head cold and blocked sinus’s (classic January) but exit row seats, we landed at Bergamo Airport, Milan.
A quick bus from the airport and a taxi from Central Station brought us to our Italian Air Bnb haven. Milan might be known for its style, fashion and class, obvs, but I still managed to be blown away when we opened the door to our cute & cheap – little apartment. We all like our luxuries but let’s be honest, my type of London-based continent hopping doesn’t usually involve much of that. Result!
Right then, two single girls in Northern Italy for three days, what were we to do…we only went and caught the train to the home of the most romantic story of all time; Verona! Classic “wherefore art thou” gags aside, we rose early and caught the train from Central Station to Verona. It’s incredibly simple and not at all pricey to fall in love for the day, setting you back around €30 return. As soon as our feet stepped out of the rundown, heater free train (making it a zero degree trip…zero!!), we knew we were perhaps about to be as devoted to this town as Romeo was to Juliet.
We wandered the frost covered cobbled streets along the river, explored alley ways, ate gnocchi walked the paths that our favourite star-crossed lovers
Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes Romeo & Juliet did – according to old mate Willy S. We ate fresh fruit in the square in the sunshine, we bought trinkets, fur hats and blessed our faces in the many cathedrals. We stood outside Romeo’s door knocking to find love, stood underneath Juliet’s balcony echoing those ever famous lines with every other romanticised tourist and to end the day on a high, I found my Romeo in the most beautiful red-haired dog in a nearby park. Who said romance was dead?
With heavy but full hearts, we left Verona for our luxury abode. Despite reciting the lines perfectly outside each and every tourist haunt, we made it back to Milano no closer to finding our Romeo’s than each of us started out with. Go figure?! Ripped off.
The next day found us boarding a train to Como. YOLO. For €13, I highly highly recommend doing the same. It would be almost criminal not to visit one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy – or the world. Plus, you can totally hunt out George and Amal’s wedding location. If there’s one place that took my breath away on this trip – it was Brunate. We caught the funicular up the side of the mountain and as we went up, our jaws dropped down. The views are second to none. The only comparable backdrop I could compare it to would be those seen in the picturesque South Island of New Zealand (not being bias, promise).
You wouldn’t be wrong to assume our most romantic meal was in Verona, but here’s the twist, it was in Brunate – no wonder the eternal Bachelor married his wifey here. Words really don’t do this place justice, I can’t recommend activities or must see’s or do’s; simply wandering the streets, exploring the churches and appreciating the views and just being there is enough.
Sh*t. As you can tell, our travelbug got the better of us and our trip to Milano didn’t quite go as planned. Not in a bad way of course, but we had one day left of our breathtaking trip and and we still hadn’t seen anything in our chosen destination for the weekend! First stop, on my list anyway, was the original Prada store. I realise this isn’t exactly what my dad would class as a tourist must-see site – but in Milan, I justify, it is… Dad, fashion is culture; Milan is internationally recognised as one of the most important fashion capitals of the world after all. I was like a little girl at Christmas window shopping in the Quadrilatero d’Oro area; PRADA, Mui Mui, Hermes, Chloe, Chanel…it’s it’s all there ready and waiting to remind you that you can barely afford to walk in to the stores, let alone entertain the idea of buying something.
Quadrilatero d’Oro was a private jet, I was Ryanair. One can always dream.
Getting back in to the touristy stuff – we took it in turns to visit, adore and marvel at the wonder that is the Duomo di Milano (NB you can’t take suitcases inside, so if you’ve booked the dirt cheap late night Ryanair flights like we had – or thought we had – then you need to line up and enjoy the place separately while the other watches the bags).
Other than this stunning spectacle, we didn’t really tourist it up in this Italian city. Why? We simply didn’t need to. The buildings were of architectural beauty, the Italian accent rung beautifully in our ears, the winter weather was crisp but stunning and the food was delicious. Sometimes it’s not about seeing the sites, it’s about how a city makes you feel.
Our three days in Italy left us content, happy and relaxed. Until we arrived at the wrong airport (who knew there were two?!) and missed our flight that was – but that’s another story entirely.
Arrivederci Verona, Como & Milano; ti vogliamo bene
// Info ~
WHAT // Brunate
WHERE // Lake Como, Italy
HOW // Catch the train from Milan Centrale Station to Como, walk around the lake over to the Funicula and the rest is history
TOP TIP // Leave yourself a full day to just sit, relax, wander and take things at a classic Italian pace. Don’t focus on sightseeing, just enjoy
WEBSITE // http://comolakecomo.com/the-funicular/