During the first part of my December vacation, my friend Stephen and I made our way to Torino and Milan. Here are my thoughts on these two Northern Italy destinations:
Torino aka home to 2006 Winter Olympics, but no view of mountains cause rain
Unfortunately during our 2 days in Torino, the rain did not cease to fall. Nothing like a full day of rain to make me aware that my jacket nor boots are at all waterproof. Despite crummy weather, we consumed all of the Italian cuisine staples (Pistachio gelato was a definite highlight) and admired some beautiful architecture and Piazzas. Stephen and I decided we wanted to see the Basilica that would apparently also provide great views of the city and mountains. This involved a trolley ride up the hillside which was all good and fun until we realized that the views were nonexistent. We got up to the Basilica, did a little walkthrough, then realized we had a 45 minute wait until the trolley would take us down. It was freezing, there were absolutely no views of the city to speak of because of the clouds and fog, and we had to sit outside while waiting for the trolley. I’d say that was the second to worst experience of our trip so, needless to say, would not recommend a trip to the Basilica in poor weather. On the other hand, I’m being dramatic and it really wasn’t that bad which means that on the whole, our trip was a success 🙂
Highlight: The enormous light-up Christmas tree in Piazza Castello that’s lights flashed along to a different Christmas Carol every half hour.
Recommendations: Officine Panino for a yummy sandwich. A walk along Via Po from the city center to the river…Stephen and I both agreed that Piazza Vittorio Veneto near the river was our favorite spot, and we wished we had discovered it earlier.
Milan aka only do the traditional Aperitivo at a restaurant with lots of good reviews
The sun shone in Milan, and we couldn’t have been happier about it. We took advantage of the weather by walking approximately 22 miles in the 2 days that we were there (according to the health app on my phone). Of course, we spent time eating plenty more scrumptious Italian fare and admiring all of the gorgeous buildings. We particularly enjoyed the areas around the the Duomo and Galeria de Emanuele, Corso Como (a modern and ritzy shopping area) and Navigli. There were Christmas markets scattered around the city which were fun to check out as well. I totally get why Spring and Summer are prime touristy seasons, but there’s definitely something to be said for all the decorations that light up European cities around the holidays. So so pretty!
Storytime: Our AirBnB hostess told us that while we were in Milan, we had to take part in a traditional Aperitivo. This involves paying for a drink from a restaurant and then getting access to a buffet of snacks. Sounded like quite the deal to us so on our last night we decided to take advantage. We weren’t feeling super ambitious so we popped into one of the first restaurants we found serving the Aperitivo. We ordered Aperol Spritzes and grabbed our fair share of snacks. After a while and feeling satisfied, we headed out to find dinner. We sat down at a restaurant and ordered food when Stephen mentioned that he wasn’t feeling too good. Come to think of it, neither was I so we asked for our food to go and headed back to our AirBnB. Feeling dizzy on the way home we took a few breaks to sit on the curb and then decided we needed to power through and get home ASAP. I’ll spare the details, but we agreed it was probably the worst either of us has ever felt and we were both thinking that there was absolutely no way we were going to be able to make it to our 6 AM flight the next day. In fact, I called my parents at 1 AM somewhat fearing for my livelihood (sorry Mom and thanks for the reassurance Dad). By some miracle, we made our flight, and now we can look back and simultaneously laugh and cry. Moral of the story: Do some research on the restaurant you choose for your Aperitivo and say a little prayer before you eat food that just sits out for who knows how long. Good luck!
Anyways, moving on :
Highlight: Watching the sunset from the rooftop of the Duomo and staying there long enough to see the Christmas lights come one 🙂
Recommendations: See above. Ammu Cannoli Espressi Siciliani. YES! Claims to have the best Cannolis in Milan, and well they were delicious. Luini for lunch or a snack…the long lines tell the tale.