After the program ended, Caitlin, Carly, and I wanted a way to end the semester with a bang and make sure it was a trip we would never forget. Where better to do that than in Italy? We had our things packed up, Cáceres behind us, and one night ahead of us in Madrid before our week long Italian Adventure to end our semester abroad. The plan was as follows:

Two nights in Milan to visit some of my extended family

One night in Venice, where Phil would meet us

One night in Florence

Three nights in Rome with an early morning flight back to Madrid

Believe it or not, we did not have one single problem on this trip. No missed trains, no bad living situations, no problems at all! What a relief…

italy collage 1

The busy week started after a restless night in Madrid (don’t stay in a youth party hostel if you have a cross continent flight at 6:25am the following morning), we made it to Milan. Upon being told the room in our hostel wasn’t ready, us three girls did what any rational girl would do in the fashion capital of the world: go shopping! We managed to find the “State Street” and the “Magnificent Mile” equivalents in Milan (I didn’t get anything too fancy)…we also had our first taste of Italian pizza (and a handsome waiter to make the experience that much more amazing).

One of our goals of the trip (if train times coordinated) was to check out the cities by night as well as during the day. So that night we made the trek into the city to see one of the well known monuments, the Duomo:

Milan at Midnight
Milan at Midnight!

The next day was a day I was really looking forward to. A cousin of mine who lives just outside of Milan with his wife and two kids agreed to meet us and show us around the city! His English was superb, luckily, because my Italian language capabilities are non-existent. He took us to see the Duomo in the daylight, the Galería, the Sforezsco palace as well as a flower show going on in the heart of the city! They were even kind enough to treat us to an assortment of Italian food like caprese salad (my favorite!), pizza, and bruschetta (second favorite).

mil 9
My cousin Emiliano, his wife Alessandra and their two kids Rebecca and Emmanuele

We three girls also became fast friends with little Rebecca, despite the language barrier:

mil 8

Also for anyone curious about the story behind this photo, here it is:

mil 1

Chanel had an ad campaign going on around the high-end shopping area of town where they had perfectly chiseled and extremely sexy men situated throughout the Milan in sharp Chanel suits talking about their Chanel No. 5 perfume. Well I didn’t care about the product…After deciding each one we passed got better looking than the other, I couldn’t resist a photo with the third one. Our conversation went as follows:

Me: Do you speak English?

Perfect Specimen of a Man: Yes

M: Can I take a photo with you?

PSM: Yes

M: Will you be my Italian boyfriend?

PSM: Sure

So there you have it, everyone. I have now an Italian boyfriend and a photo to prove it.

But, sadly leaving him behind in Milan, we headed to Venice ready to visit the most extraordinary and unusual city we had ever seen.

Taking in the sights on the Grand Canal
Taking in the sights on the Grand Canal

We had a lot of trouble trying to find economical boarding on the island, so we stayed in the most quaint little camping village ever just on the mainland. Hard to believe that our favorite housing was a tiny little log cabin for the four of us! Caitlin, Carly, and I spent the afternoon walking around and exploring. We had no plans, and no problems! It is extremely difficult to use a map in the city, with the weaving side “roads” (practically sidewalks) and every time you try to turn, you come to a canal that you can’t casually cross without a bridge. So just a warning: if you travel to Venice and see something beautiful, snap a photo of it right away because you will never be able to find it again in the maze of the city!

We decided that this was our favorite bridge in the entire city.
We decided that this was our favorite bridge in the entire city.

The next day, after Phil had met us the evening before, we headed out to check out the Piazza di Santo Marco (St. Mark’s Plaza) and basilica, what Napoleon had described as Italy’s “drawing board”. Because it was a long walk, we decided that when in Venice, do as the Venetians do, and hop on a Vaparetto (water bus)! For just 7 euro, we enjoyed a lovely trip down the Grand Canal and around some of the 118 islands that make up the city to get to the piazza

Full view of the campanile in the plaza!
Full view of the campanile in the plaza!

We also walked around the Doge’s Palace (behind the campanile) and saw the famed Bridge of Sigh’s that led to the prison. The name comes from the sounds of the prisoners crossing the bridge after their trial and looking out on Venice for the last time…

Bridge of Sighs
Bridge of Sighs complete with a gondola passing below it

Then, to end the visit before a thunderstorm hit and our train left, we had to see the most beautiful view by twilight from the Ponte di Rialto, the Rialto Bridge!

Venice at Twilight
Venice at Twilight

I swear that is my own photo, not a postcard–the city is just that beautiful that every photo does look like a postcard!

That night we headed out of Venice to get to Florence, and then after that to Rome! Part two to come soon with details on both of those cities!

3 Replies to “Italian Adventure: Part One”

  1. Your fabulous photos are exceeded only by your witty commentary, Claire. What will you do when you are marooned in provincial Barrington?

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