Italy is a special place for me. My maternal Grandfather was born in Sicily and immigrated to the United States when he was 3 years old. I am extremely proud to be an Italian and love everything about the culture and the country. Every year my family and I visit a new part of Italy. I love seeing the different parts of the Country and meeting the friendliest people while indulging in the most delicious food.
It is no secret that I love pasta, so every time I spend a week in Italy it is a huge treat for me. I spent my days enjoying my time with my family, exploring a new part of Northern Italy, taking in all the culture and choosing between which Gelato flavors I was going to eat that day.
This trip we drove around Northern Italy to Milan, Verona, Bergamo & Stresa.
Una Maison Milano. Located two minutes from the Duomo and the Center Square. This was the perfect boutique hotel, which was affordable and extremely bright. I had the cutest balcony and every morning drank my matcha latte hanging out my balcony out looking over the streets of Milan.
The Duomo is in the center of the city and is the most beautiful active Church within Milan. It is huge and you are able to tour the inside and climb to the top of the outside. I recommend buying tickets in advance (that way you can cut the line!)
The Last Supper: Leonardo Di Vinci painted the fresco of the Last Supper. Although this is a site you must not miss, it has been so heavily restored that if you stripped back all of the restoration the only thing you would find is a blank wall. My mother insisted that we visited since when in Milan but as an art history lover I would have preferred to see the Last Supper without all of the restoration that took place.
The shopping in Milan was wonderful, there is a main street leading from the center of the city with all of the high-end boutiques. There is another street with all of the more opening price point shops that are only found in Europe and those are by far my favorites.
We ate dinner at Hosteria della Musica which was on a flower lined street with lots of other outdoor restaurants. We ate with my Mom’s Italian Tutor that lives in Milan so he chose the restaurant and the entire staff knew him so we received special treatment. We were treated to prosecco and special house red wine that is only for Friends & Family. We ordered appetizers consisting off bruschetta, eggplant parmesan, burata. Then we ordered their steak, which was a specialty of theirs where it is cooked on a hot stone and grilled vegetables.
We then drove about two hours from Milan to Verona, which is the home of Romeo, & Giulietta. Verona was a quaint small town and you could picture the local village hundreds of years ago when Romeo was calling out for Giulietta under her balcony. This was definitely a tourist town but perfect for one night.
We stayed at Due Torri Hotel, which was another beautiful hotel. The location was 5 – 10 minute walk from the city center and it was a gorgeous grand hotel. The rooms were spacious and felt very luxurious. The hotel had a roof that is perfect for aperitifs with breathtaking panoramic views of the city
Giulietta’s Balcony & Home. This is why the tourists come to Verona. A 5 minute walk from the city center is the balcony made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Where Giulietta lived and where Romeo serenaded her.
We had the best Gelato of the trip on the main street of Verona. The gelato was heavenly. I had one scoop of the cookies and cream and the other of the nutella with a hard chocolate sauce on top. This was all pre dinner, but worth it! We went to a very cute out door restaurant where I started with shrimp tartar and then spaghetti with shrimp ad pesto. The rest of the family ordered grilled octopus, grilled vegetables and branzino.
We drove an hour and a half from Verona to Bergamo to spend the day. Bergamo is a city divided into la citta alta & bassa. It is a hilly town that has a Funicular that goes to the top of the mountain. This was the perfect day excursion as we walked around another small village and had lunch outdoors. The square in Bergamo was very lively and had a smaller amount of tourists than Verano. Nicole and I climbed up the tower to get views of the city while getting our steps in. I also found the cutest headband shop. This shop only sold headbands and they were delicate with appliques on them. I purchased a bright blue one with two bees on it, very Gucci esq!
Bergamo is known for their Polenta. They have a dessert with Polenta stuffed with marzipan and chocolate. We also had Polenta at lunch with porcini mushrooms. It is mushroom season and the mushrooms were the most delicious creamy mushrooms I have had in a long time! I also ordered a side of spinach and spaghetti with pesto sauce.
From Bergamo we drove to Stresa. Stresa is on Lago Maggiore and had absolutely breathtaking views of the lake, the islands on the lake, and Switzerland. Stresa is a small town and I loved it there.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromes. This hotel is the oldest hotel in Stresa and it really was grand! It was huge, and had a Ernist Hemmingway Bar and suite as Hemmingway use to stay there. The rooms had an oaky smell to them since the hotel was old but the balcony overlooking the lake was everything!
Since Stresa is located on Lago Maggiore we spent an entire day on the lake. We did a private boat and tour of the three Borromean Islands on the lake. The name comes from the Borromeo Family, which is the family that acquired the islands starting in the early 16th century, and still owns the majority of the islands. The first was the one with the Isloa Bella. This beautiful island had a private palace. Let me say this palace was gorgeous and huge! It was half of the island with the garden taking up the other half.
The next island was Isola dei Pescatori, Fishermans Island, where we had lunch. The most fascinating fact about this island is that only 30 people live full time on the island and they still earn their living as local fisherman. We had lunch on this island and I ordered a grilled lake fish. The lake fish was a white fish, it was good, but a little fishy.
The last island we explored was the Isola Madre, Mother Island. This is the largest of the three islands and is known for its gardens. There is another palace on this island but the gardens are what attract the crowd. The gardens are still maintained and are worth the visit.
We also spent a day doing a cooking class in a Local Italian family’s home. This was really exciting since we cooked authentic Italian food and feasted on it! It was one of the best pasta cheese sauces I have had in a while. I definitely indulged and recommend taking a local cooking class to anyone traveling to Italy!
We went to two mouthwatering restaurants for dinner while in Stresa. Both pizza restaurants are known for their calzones. I am not a huge calzone lover since NYC is known for their dollar slice pizzas but these were life changing. We noticed in the first restaurant how every table around us was eating a calzone so we quickly caught on an ordered one and it did not disappoint.
The gelato in Stresa was also yummy. I met a cute Gelato owner who actually asked me out for drinks! It was the night before I had to leave for NYC so I declined but maybe next time!