When we arrived in Milan our Airbnb host was kind enough to pick us up. As we’d already missed a day in the city, he drove us around and explained some of the main attractions. This is one of the reasons why I love Air BnB, because you often get small surprises or little welcome gifts in the form of wine. Our host being a local, was also able to recommended two of his favourite places to eat in the city:
The Local Recommendation:
Nerino Dieci Trattoria
Where to get Gelato:
Il Massimo del Gelato
La Gelateria della Musica
Once we dropped off our luggage, we decided to grab a cheeky pizza and take a quick tour of The Cathedral. It was absolutely stunning inside, and after being in Vancouver I felt as though I appreciated history more than before. After the Cathedral, we miander down the back streets of the city. We actually came across some beautiful quaint streets and ended up seeing a few of the below accidentally. If you have time to plan ahead, I would recommend booking the Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the painting of the Last Supper.
Points of Interest:
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Pinacoteca di Brera
Villa Necchi Campiglio
If you’re on social media then you’ll notice Cinque Terre has been growing in popularity over the last few years. It is in the Liguria region of Italy and contains five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The transport to Riomaggiore took 3 hours with 2 trains. The first train journey was fast, but the second was brutal; no air conditioner, hard seats and no open windows. If you do the trip, make sure you get the fast train and don’t spare any expense unless you’re feeling up to the challenge!
Where to eat in Riomaggiore
After realizing that the Via dell’Amore path from Riomaggiore to Manarola was closed, we decided to get the train up to the next town Manarola where we would start our hike to Corniglia via Volastra. This is a 3.5km hike with a 1700ft climb, the level of difficulty is stated as “high” with a walking time of around 2 hours and 30 minutes. If you’ve consumed copious amounts of pizza and pasta and want to live guilt free, I would recommend this hike. This was physically challenging, especially in the heat but the views were stunning!
North to South
After missing the turning to the town of Corniglia, we decided to jump on the train to the next town Vernazza. This was the first of the five fishing towns to be built in Cinque Terre and is considered the busiest and most popular:
Try Something Different
After a long day of walking, we had some yummy pasta at one of the Riomaggioe restaurants. When you’re in this region make sure you try the local wine, seafood and pesto which originated from the Italian Rivera! However, if you do want to try something different, I would recommend buying a take away pizza, or making yourself a picnic and planting yourself here (below). Lots of families had bought pizza’s and wine and were enjoying the view outside. I think if we’d have known, we would have done the same on our first night!
The drive to Turin was pretty smooth until we reached the town! There was a long climb up the countryside hill and it was exactly how you would imagine an Italian countryside. Lots of greenery, farms, brick cottages with wineries upon wineries!
Our accommodation was beautiful and Kim and James had booked a scatter of cottages for their wedding guest. Our host worked as a Typographer making wine labels in the city, but wanted to transition to an easier life managing his Bed and Breakfast.
Once we had changed and put away our luggage we all gathered at the central house which was a bit further down in the village but also up a hill. It was lovely to see all of the friend group and familiar faces in one place half way across the world. The cottage they booked was so stunning!
Kim’s family hosted a Vietnamese night where we ate Pho, and learnt how to make salad roles. It was such a lovely touch as Kim’s family shipped all of the food over for this very night and everyone was so appreciative! I’m certainly going to be making Vietnamese salad rolls back home!
We all got an early night sleep and spent the next morning relaxing by the pool. Later we headed to a small town close by where we picked up Bosca wine. This wine is one of the longest running wine making families in the region, going back 9 generations! I’m a sucker for sweet wines so I chose their Moscato. On the drive back we also avoided going to the large Supermarket and opted for a small local family store. We communicated with hand gestures in order to piece together a cheese and ham lunch, and they were so lovely given out lack of Italian.
After spending the morning by the pool, we were picked up by a shuttle bus which took us to the church where Kim and James were to be married. It had such stunning view and was at a truly beautiful location.
Sunday was a very slow and hard start to the morning but we managed to make it to the family lunch. I’m glad I went as it was beautiful. This was another Bed and Breakfast but they also served food in a large family home style restaurant. Their property backed onto vineyards and they also had pears, kiwis and peppers growing in their garden.
Afterwards, we headed back to the main house to relax around the pool as a group. The grounds of the house were kept by an Indian family so later on in the evening we were eating Samosas and drinking Chai Tea. I didn’t think I’d be doing that in Italy!
All in all! If you’re thinking of going to Italy and have limited time I would highly recommend Cinque Terre and the beautiful Italian countryside. Milan is pretty but there are much nicer European cities / towns to visit like Paris (which have direct flights from Vancouver!)