I have always been in love with Italy. Italian food has always been top on my list, the language is music to my ears and the culture is not one that shocks me (by experience, the French jumble up Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese in one group: loud). My family has a friend who speaks multiple languages. I have always looked up to him since I was little. He learned Spanish in college and can speak it practically without an accent. I would always beg him to speak to me in two languages, French or Italian, but he tended to speak more in French since it was better than his Italian.
Italy is a Mediteranean culture that I have always wanted to meet. I should have gone my first year when I moved to France… But it made me nervous traveling by myself. So I waited it out until my first year of college, when the opportunity to travel with an organisation from the university came about. The trip in itself was not expensive… around 200€ with hostel, breakfast and dinner, clubs we would visit, certain transportation (train to Lake Como) included. The only thing I paid for was my 48 hour metro card (which was about 8€), lunch/drinks and whatever souvenirs I happened to buy.
If you follow my Instagram, you probably noticed that I was documenting my way through Italy with the hashtag #VGoesToItalia.
Let me just say, Milan made me fall in love with Italy, and I can’t wait to get back.
We travelled from Paris to Milan by bus (around 11 hours), so we left on a Thursday night. We arrived Friday in the morning to our hostel, Ostello Bello Grande. It was one of the best hostels I have ever been to. The hostel offers free breakfast and dinner, and in my opinion, they did a fair job in handling a big group (around 50 French students).
The first afternoon, we explored the area around the Duomo, the cathedral in Milan and la galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is situated by the plazza.
Saturday morning was a difficult wake up, since we had been out late into the night. We visited a flea market, Mercatino dell’usato di Porta Genova, where I ended up keeping an eye out for books (I’ve started collecting books in the original language from each country I visit). The afternoon, we had a picnic in the Sempione Park (of course, we had pizza).
Sunday was our last day in Milan, that evening we would be leaving to head back to Paris (because of course, we had classes on Monday… Let me just tell you, that was a very difficult Monday). We didn’t spend the day in Milan, instead going to a town about thirty minutes by train, Como, which has a beautiful lake. We were lucky. The weather app had told us that it would be raining all weekend, but we only had a few moments of rain, which consisted of sunshine afterwards. By the way, I had the best gelato of my life there!
Here are a few things that stood out to me about Italy
Be careful with the pizza and the pasta. Italians know that this is one of their specialties and that tourists fall easily for certain restaurant’s traps. Even though our picnic in the park was very nice, the pizza we had gotten was very thin and slightly burnt. The next day, when we ate in a restaurant with the view of Lake Como, we had a VERY good pizza and not for a bad price. On the contrary, I never ate a gelato that was not good.
The people tend to be really nice. I was warned beforehand that Italians were not that great in English, but everyone we met always wanted to practice their English with us (because that was the only way to communicate with the French). As always, since I am learning Italian, I was annoying and would only try to speak Italian… But it is honestly the best way to learn a language.
The streets are filled with color. Everywhere. Red, browns, yellows. Paris is very beautiful, but in the winter it is very grey. It doesn’t help that most buildings tend to be that color as well. I have come down to a theory though that the more color in a city, the more open and laid back people are.
Italy was sincerely one of the best trips I have done. I am happy I decided to jump on the opportunity. Outside of France, Italy is the first country to internally spark a fire within me. I know I have to go back, learn the language and take in the culture. Three days was not enough.
Milano, thank you for making me fall even more in love with Italy.
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