If you know me, you know it’s no rarity for me to travel alone. While I’m lucky to have a close group of friends from college that I love spending time with , and love to travel with (these two things do not always go hand in hand), they aren’t always available to take impromptu trips whenever I have the urge, so more often than not I pack a bag and make my way solo dolo.
That tendency for solo travel is why my recent trip to Milan was such a big change for me. I hit the road to Milan, Italy in a group of six for the six and a half hour ride from Heilbronn. The road trip was one of unknowns—these were recent friends and this was our first trip together. This was my also my first time traveling in a group so large ( all hail the solo road trip!).
We had our share of snafus, and I will likely continue to alternate between solo trips and group trips, but overall I had an amazing time and fell in love with Italy all over again.
I’m not sure what it is about Italy. I studied abroad in Florence (technically Sesto Fiorento, a small town twenty minutes outside of Florence) and I loved it. So much that I questioned if I really loved Italy that much, or if I was viewing the country through study abroad, wine-tinted glasses.
As I sat squeezed in the back of our rented SUV (because vertically challenged people always end up relegated to the back with leg room that wouldn’t be enough for a child), barreling towards Milan on the autobahn, I couldn’t help but wonder if my return to Italy would match my memories and expectations.
It has been confirmed. I love Italy.
Life happened and we hit traffic on the way into Milan. We ended up getting in a little later than we expected and grabbed a quick dinner before changing and getting ready for the night.
With a little googling and reaching out to local friends, we discovered the Navigli district. It’s an area of bars, pubs, cafés, and restaurants near the Navigli canals. We made our way to the Navigli Grande and had a more relaxed night of bar hopping. One restaurant offered drinks by the liter so you know I had to have at least one to remind me of my study abroad in Mexico.
We decided to get an early start to the day and be out of our hotel by 9:30. Since we didn’t make it to sleep until four, this was a bit of a struggle, but who needs sleep when you’re running off excitement?
Honestly, we really didn’t see that much despite our early start. We definitely could have planned our day better….or had a plan at all (everyone thought someone else had created an Agenda) , but what we did see was amazing.
Let’s start with the Duomo di Milano.
Pictures can’t capture it. Words can’t accurately describe it. Every inch is covered in intricate detail and such immaculate craftsmanship you stop questioning why it took five centuries to complete. We took the lift to the upper terrace and then toured the terrace before climbing to the very top. While I found the view from the room to be kind of lackluster, the upper terrace itself was amazing. I enjoyed seeing more of the statues and architecture detail up close more than gazing off into the distance for an okay city view.
After the Duomo we made our way through the shopping area and toured the area near the Duomo. We wandered and got lost in the city and then settled into a small café for a quick lunch. During this lunch, one of my travel companions mentioned the local team had a game and thought it might be fun to see one while were here.
When I tell you ALL the struggle occurred while trying to secure these tickets I mean ALLLLL of the struggle occured. An excessive amount of cabs to and from the stadium were paid for. IDs were left behind and regained again. Seats could not be found. The struggle was real, but it was worth it.
This was my first soccer game and it was amazing. The game had a great flow. The crowd was rowdy. At some point one of the soccer clubs may have set their club flag on fire when something exciting happened. It was greatness. It may have been my favorite part from the trip and has definitely made me a soccer fan.
The Last Day:
We only had half a day , but I’m proud of what we managed to accomplish in such a short time. As a group we headed to the Sforzesco Castle. The castle is a sight in and of itself, but it’s also been converted to house seven different museums.
This is where the group split up. Most of the group was content to take photos of the outside, but I’m a museum girl, so I told them I would meet them when it was time to go and headed in.
I did have one museum buddy for the day and we ended up spending the majority of the day exploring the castle and visiting multiple museums. It also turned out to be free since it was the first Sunday of the month. Winning.
Afterwards we bought Vin Brule from a food truck outside the palace before doing a little shopping in the nearby weekend street market.
We wound through the market until we ended up near the Piazza Sempione, home to the Arco della Pace, a city gate of Milan.
And with time dwindling before we had to meet up with the rest of the group, we took our pictures and decided to get a fast lunch at a nearby café.
We walked in.
Adorable Older Italian Man: Can I help you.
Us: Do you serve food here?
AOIM : Food? Yes of course. What kind of food?
Us: I don’t know. Sandwiches or paninis or something like that.
AOIM: Yes yes. Sit sit. What would you like/
Us: Do you have a menu?
AOIM: Menu? Just tell me what you would like and I make.
We describe our sandwich and then ask about a white wine.
AOIM: Look at this weather, this is the weather for red wine. I have the perfect one for you. I’ll bring it out.
The wine turned out to be amazing. The sandwich was excellent. And that is how we ended the Italian chronicles.
Tune in next week for the next adventure! New posts every Wednesday.