There are few girls (and people, for that matter) who don’t dream of visiting romantic, pasta-filled Italy. Whether it was a film like Under The Tuscan Sun or The Lizzie McGuire Movie, or a relative’s enchanting stories from abroad that drew you in, I think it’s safe to say that Italy has been (and perhaps still is) that far-off destination of everyone’s dreams. And, what’s not to love? The charming image of foreigners smoking chic, personally-rolled cigarettes as they sip their espressos and suddenly zip away on their vespa is enough to make anyone stateside say “ciao for now” to their everyday lives. There’s just something about Italy. There always has been. So, when my dear friend, Sally, asked me to accompany her to Milan and Rome for a work trip, I simply couldn’t refuse. Take a peek, below, for an in-depth look at the two days we spent in enchanting Milano.
Sunday / 10 a.m. We arrived in Milan early in the morning on March 19 after taking a red eye from JFK. In order to conquer jet lag the best way we knew how, we decided to skip napping in favor of heading straight into our day. After having a quick breakfast at Pavé, our first stop was the Duomo di Milano. Now, I’m typically not one for tourist attractions. I’d much rather find the local hideaways and hidden treasures. But, I must say, this one is pretty incredible. The detail and intricacy of the architecture alone is mind-blowing. It’s hard to believe that structures–that places like this—even exist. If you’re going to put one “tourist attraction” on your list, let it be the Duomo. And, don’t let the men selling bird feed and selfie sticks deter you. Little can take away from the magic of the great cathedral.
Jacket, Tank, and Bag by Express, Vintage Levis
1 p.m. / After the Duomo, we headed to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (okay, the second tourist location of the trip and one of the oldest shopping malls in the world) to continue our adventure. Although the stores inside were exceptional for window shopping, they proved to be a bit out of our price range. We didn’t let that faze us, however, as there proved to be plenty of other distractions hidden within the great, golden walls of Emanuele. Specifically, Pasticceria Marchesi. If there’s one language both Sally and I speak fluently besides English and shopping, it’s pastries. We spent the afternoon sipping cappuccinos and indulging in croissants before snagging a few chocolates to take away as gifts. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
3 p.m. / We spent the rest of the afternoon doing what we do best: exploring. While looking for locations to shoot an upcoming feature, we took in everything that city had to offer: the sights, the people, the smells. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite aspects of travel is that everything is uncharted. Every corner you turn, every person you meet, every door walk through, there is something new to be discovered. You can turn the greatest something out of nothing at all. And that, in and of itself, is magic. After discovering different alleyways and backdoor gardens, we headed home to get ready for aperitivos and a late dinner in the Navigli District.
6 p.m. / I equate aperitivos to the American happy hour with an added bonus, of course, because what’s traveling to a foreign country if you can’t expect more? More enchantment. More culture. More bread. The equation is simple: drinks + free hors d’oeuvres = one hell of a good time. Sally and I chose quaint, but oddly and familiarly hipster-esque Sofa Cafe located at the opening of the first canal. We drank (a pinot grigio for Sally, a local beer for me) and we people-watched. We talked about the city and the fun we were having, and it was an amazing time. After a while, we made our way next door for what else but pizza and pasta. I forget the name of the restaurant, but it came heavily recommended by our dear friend, Yelp, and it did not disappoint. We got plenty full and a little drunk. And, before you know it, we’re getting served a couple of heaping scoopfuls of gelato from Sofa Cafe’s other neighbor before catching a taxi back to our hotel.
Quick note on transportation: If you’re wondering what the best way to get around in Milan is, Sally and I almost always took the metro/trains. They felt incredibly safe and were an affordable, easy option always. We just wanted to be as safe as possible and opted for taxis late at night!
Monday 10 a.m. / Sally spent the morning in meetings which meant a few hours of solo exploration for me. Because it was the first time I would make the journey on my own, I mapped my routes and checked them twice. I originally planned to spend the morning working at oTTo, but soon realized it was closed for the day. So, I headed to the next stop on my list that walking distance away: 10 Corso Como. And, it was by far one of my absolute favorite places in Italy. For anyone that loves design, beautiful spaces, and nice things, you must go. I had read so many rave reviews about the all-in-one shop prior to the trip that I almost couldn’t believe it was worth the hype. But, boy, was I wrong? I spent the morning writing and editing in the cafe (if you go, say hi to my pal, Albert) before heading into the ground-level boutique to peruse unique, but otherworldly and beautiful wares by designers like Chloe and Gucci.
After dreaming just a touch too long, I headed upstairs to find a room full of the most beautiful and artful books. Anything you could dream up, it could be found on the upper level at 10 Corso Como: zines, coffee table collectibles, travel guides. You want it in Italian? You’ve got it. Is English more your speed? At your service. I could have spent hours in that room alone, daydreaming a life where my personal library consisted of everything found there. Across the hall, there is a large gallery showcasing rotating installations. Nobuyoshi Araki was being shown at the time of my visit. I loved seeing the juxtaposition in his photos between borderline vulgarity and an apparent loveliness. It was captivating. Finally, upstairs there is a breathtaking rooftop garden to sit and enjoy and be still. It was…everything as they say.
2 p.m. / Two cappuccinos later and a new dream realized, I finally decide to head back onto the streets of Milano. The architecture in the city is incredibly intriguing. On one corner you’ll find century-old buildings complete with years of rust, and on the other you find something glass, jarring, and altogether modern. The ladder drew me closer to what I would soon discover as a mall. Nothing special, just a mall. And, I didn’t even catch her name.
6 p.m. / That night, Sally and I decided to squeeze in every last bit of Milan that we could. We arrived at Rossanna Orlandi after fifteen minutes of trying to locate the building entrance (And, were ultimately both a bit disappointed with what we found. To be fair, they were preparing for an upcoming show, so the place was a bit in shambles). We scouted some other nearby shops before heading to aperitivos and sushi at Temakinho and late-night gelato near our hotel. And, because no night in Italy could be complete without Lizzie, we sang our hearts out to the one, classic ballad everyone knows and loves, “This Is What Dreams Are Made Of“. We went to bed with our hearts full, dreaming of our next destination: Roma.
If you’re looking for a few other places I researched, but didn’t make it to, I’d check out: Bar Luce and Fondazione Prada, Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, Pizza AM, and La Vigna di Leonardo. Have you gone anywhere in Milan that you absolutely adored?