Taking the world by the tastebuds!
We were so excited! Our first trip to Europe together. After a month of research and planning, we decided to start in Venice and end our travels in Milan. I planned a long and very packed itinerary. We booked a flight with a layover in Britain on the way to Venice and a direct flight leaving Milan. I made sure I had an International driver’s license right before we left. We both would have gotten one but Piero works the same hours as the AAA office and there was no way for him to sign up at such a late notice. We should have both gone on a Saturday, but we didn’t think of it soon enough. I happened to wait until the day before our flight to go, but it was a quick and easy 30 minute process to apply and receive the license. You can choose the best option for you when you get to the office.
As the trip got closer, we went shopping and started to pack. The week before we left for Venice, there was a huge storm in Italy. The biggest storm in a long while and it hits hard where we are going to be staying! To be exact, 5.1 feet of water closed Saint Mark’s Square and we were only 2 blocks away. We each added rain boots and raincoats to our luggage.
Venice is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited. I cannot wait to go back and see parts I didn’t get to! San Marco Square was so much fun day and night! Seeing it all lit up against the night sky is just enchanting. We stayed about two blocks away at Hotel All’Angelo. We really enjoyed our stay and we loved the suite overlooking the canal. It was gorgeous! The breakfast was good and there is a cute little wine bar downstairs, the HK Wine Bar. If you stay at the hotel you will be able to indulge in a free plate of aperitif with a drink of your choice. We liked the wine bar for their selection and it was very quiet during happy hour, about 6pm. The hotel also has a platform for the gondolas to pick you up right outside! I couldn’t have been happier with our hotel choice.
Venice has the most windy roads and walkways. There is so much to see and plenty of ways to get there. We walked all over San Mark’s Square a few times. We had delicious gelato, amazing pasta, and so much more. It’s fun to stroll through the streets looking for restaurants. There is normally a helpful staff member outside to help translate anything or recommend a dish at each restaurant. Along with the Palace, Basilica and other jaw dropping buildings we walked to the Bridge of Sighs. There was so much to see within walking distance, but I had plans! I didn’t create an itinerary for no reason!
From our location we visited Murano. We would have gone to Burano and Torcello but we didn’t have enough time. We slept late that day and the smaller islands are open early but close around 4/5pm. When we go back we will definitely make it to Burano and Torcello. Murano was magnificent, there are striking glass art pieces everywhere. From jewelry to lampshades, anything glass can be found on this island. We wandered around to the different tourist destinations, it was a great afternoon.
One of our favorite parts of our time in Italy was the Dolomites Day Trip from Venice. We got the tickets off Tripadvisor, it’s easy to buy online or call their customer service line. The Dolomites are in northern Italy, they are a jaw dropping mountain range. The village of Cortina is also amazing, it is nestled in the mountain range and a popular place for nature lovers and skiers. Honestly, you have to see this destination.
Milan was a very fun destination. What seems like the typical city streets, busy during the day and a thriving nightlife, lead to castles, gorgeous spas, and mouth watering foods. We walked for hours around this city and started using MyTaxi when we needed a rest. MyTaxi is a great app, similar to Uber except the clock starts running when you request the taxi and it already starts at a minimum of $3.50. So try not to accept a taxi 5 minutes away because you will pay for the meter by the mount of time it takes from the request to the drop off. A couple of times we ended up walking a few blocks before requesting the ride. Milan has so much to offer, one of the oldest aquariums in all of Europe, both the old and new fútbol stadiums and so much more.
Some of the things we recommend in Milan are as follows. The Vintage Fiat tour, the perfect way to start your morning and see the city. We wanted to take this tour because it was easy to plan what we wanted to see afterwards. We were able to ride along cobblestone road, learn about the surrounding area and it’s history and stop to take a picture at one of the beautiful destinations along the route. The guide was so kind and knowledgeable!
The QC Terme Milano is a must visit if you enjoy a nice relaxing evening. The tickets include the saunas, hot tubs, relaxation rooms and an UNLIMITED aperitif. We decided to make a visit after a long day of traveling from Venice to Milan. The Italiarail is amazing! They have self service kiosks and attendants ready to help. We took a taxi to the Spa, it is on a corner and the building is gorgeous. As soon as you walk in, it looks like paradise. You must have a swim suit and flip flops to walk around, if you did not bring them on this vacation you can purchase them for a reasonable amount at the front desk. They provide a robe, towel and water bottle. The aperitif was available for the majority of the night. From when we arrived around 7pm to 10pm, there was an assortment of red wine, pink wine, white wine and champagne. Along with crackers, cheese, pasta, fruit, olives and so many other tasty finger foods. After eating all we could, we headed outside to a stunning layout. They converted an old train into a sauna and it was a lovely display surrounded by different hot pools. There are jets and places to layback everywhere in the warm water. I do not recommend putting your robe amongst the ones on the rack. Although they are numbered, people will take the driest one on the rack, rather than their own. It’s best if they’re visible nearby, many people were hanging them along the poolside rails. Inside, there are foot spas, hot tubs, steam rooms, salt rooms, saunas and sleeping rooms with waterbeds, cushions and other options. After an amazing evening, you head back to your locker room where they provide supplies for a shower. It was truly a great experience and I would love to visit one of the other locations in Rome, France, Dolomiti and we are super excited about the new one coming to Governors Island in New York!
The Sforzesco Castle was a hot spot, it’s not hard to find a castle in a city! The walls and towers are beautiful. Inside, the artwork is everywhere from the ceilings to the statues. They have different events in the courtyard and several museums to roam. The tickets to enter are fairly cheap and you can spend a decent amount of time walking by armor, kitchenware, furniture, etc.
One day the weather wasn’t supposed to be great so we visited the Civic Aquarium of Milan. The architecture of the building was so beautiful, this aquarium could only exist in Milan. It is one of the top ten oldest aquariums in Europe. Inside is a bit small but its well kept. The main floor has all the tanks of animals. Upstairs is pretty balcony and there are ponds outside the back that are lined by a park. The basement has some older bones and fossils to check out.
Starbucks recently opened a Roastery in Milan. It’s not like your average Starbucks in America, a small storefront or kiosk mainly taking orders for frappuccinos and caramel macchiatos. They serve their bold coffees the way they do all over Italy, small cups of cappuccinos and a croissant. It was a fun stop on our walk through the city.
On our way to Milan, we stopped in Verona. It was s train ride and taxi away, not too far. We are so glad we stopped! You can see some of the ruins underneath the city and visit the Juliet’s House! The Casa Di Giulietta features the famous balcony, which you can go out on if you purchase the ticket to get inside the home. Her bronze statue also stands outside the home and rumor has it, if you touch the right side of her chest you will have lots of luck! There is a small gift shop to purchase souvenirs and even locks to write on and hang outside. The small square in Verona was breathtaking. The whole street is line with pretty homes and buildings. The glaces you get of the ruins sparks the imagination. There are lions with wings and an open books on display to symbolize peace. The fountain in the middle is beautiful and accompanied by farm stands with fresh chestnuts and other items. All of this is surrounded by restaurants offering delightful plates and crisp local wine.
We loved our stay at the modern Milan Suite Hotel. I felt very welcome and pampered as soon as I walked into the lobby. We loved the room, the amenities – especially the breakfasts! There was a fresh spread every morning including freshly squeezed juices, personalized coffees, pastries, cereal and more! The hotel had great balconies right outside the main entrance to the rooms. They had safety measures at night that made me feel very good. We would recommend staying at the Milan Suite Hotel at any time. Plus its right down the street from a famous bar, Garage Italia Milano. Make a reservation or get here early otherwise you might not get in!
Flying home from Milan was easy. Our Hotel was about 45 minutes away from the airport, a taxi cost about $100 including tip to get to the airport. It was nice to have a direct flight home.
Some DO’s and DON’Ts;
Soccer/Fútbol Games in Italy
- DO Make sure you have the Tessera del tifoso.
- DO Take your passport with you to the game.
- DO Go early to tailgate, there are food trucks lined up outside!
- DO NOT Buy the tickets on Stubhub or a third party website.
- DO NOT Wear the uniform of the opposing team in your section.
Traveling to Venice at Night
- DO Bring a charger with you incase you need to, you can charge your device on most trains.
- DO Once back at the port, you are able to take a boat back to the main island of Venice until about 1AM.
- DO NOT miss the 9PM train. There are NO trains to Venice past 10PM.
Italy was amazing and planning take a lot of hard work and time. I’ve uploaded our projected Itinerary. Some days we slept too late for my plans and others we scrapped the plan all together. On our way to Milan we stopped in Verona rather than Florence. We also never ended up using the international driver’s license.