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Goodbye Italy. Soon we´ll meet again!

June 11, 2011

Ciao! A bit on our last few nights:

A whirlwind of traveling, but by now thatś to be expected. From Venice to Milan on an early, early morning train (it,s a blessing we made it to the station, with six minutes to spare!).

Milan. From what I´d heard about the city, I wasn´t expecting to enjoy it all that much. Buzzwords were industrial, business-y, tourist-free, not-so-pretty.

I´d like to say I disagree. In fact, the city was a highlight of Italy! It is a charming place with great architecture, & is pleasantly less filled with tourists than any other place we´d seen in the country. So many well-dressed older people (you definitely realize Italyś birthrate is on the decline here). Found good food, a park that beats the heck out of NYC´s Central, & a whole lot of wallet-busting shopping.

We stayed in a rather inexpensive hotel that boasted a private balcony, and it was in a great part of town no less!

The best part of Milan (and I have a bias here) is the cityś proximity to Piacenza, the town my fatherś family is from. A town of 100,000, it is a 45-minute train ride from Milano, and lucky for me, we had the time to make a day trip.

I really had no idea what to expect, but fell in love with Piacenza the moment I stepped off of the train platform. It is a darling place packed with lovely architecture, perfect pastries, friendly people, green gardens, & quaint, quaint churches. Seeing the place was a dream come true.

The townś little tourism information center was run by a sweet Italian girl whose brother´s friend shares my last name! So weŕe still there! Unfortunately I couldn’t check out the town´s archives, as we were visiting on a Thursday, which unbeknown est to me is a day Piacenza shuts down. Oh Italia and its little quirks!

Such a bummer — most of the little shops & (more importantly) most of the little restaurants were closed the entire day. What a shame…just means Iĺl have to come back & enjoy more the the Emila-Romania Regionś famously good food. Still, a few shops were open, & I enjoyed the best gelato of the trip in the land of my ancestors. It was pistachio, & it was perfect. Not dyed, just the real thing. Also had some type of crispy croissant stuffed with nutella. Delicious just doesn’t come close to a good enough description…(The passion for food really does run in my blood!).

Took an eventful train back to Milan & had dinner there, then hit the sack for an early day of Milan exploration & a night of train riding to Barcelona.

Breakfast the next morning at a cafe next to the hotel. It was great…Italians like to fill all of their pastries with three things — chocolate, apricot, or cream. Lucky for me, I am a huge fan of all three. Unlucky for me, my waist size is not. (Note to self – hit the gym when get back home.)

Dropped off our backpacks at a locker in the Milan train station (which some consider an eyesore, but I loved its huge dome-shaped design. According to a guidebook, 5 million people travel through it each year.)

Off to the Duomo, one of the cityś most known sites. Quite beautiful.

Then saw the very first Prada store (I have far too many friends who will love that!). They even sell Prada chocolate!

Then we stumbled upon our favorite Italian gelato chain. Called Grom, we´ve found them in Rome, Florence, & now Milan. Had to get one last order, of course. Their ricotta flavor is perfect.

Then lunched on one of the cityś well-known shopping street. Loved my risotto and Milanese osobucco (sp). Fell right off the bone…kind of obsessed with marrow thanks to the dish.

Walked through a castle which opened to a fantastic park, then to a supermarket to get sandwiches for our upcoming night train. Supermarket sandwich making is Europe’s best kept cheap-meal secret. My prosciutto & mozzarella sandwich & my friends mozzarella and pesto sandwich came to 3.60! Only 17 cents for our water…such the deal. And so, so good.

The night train: Very close quarters, very little to do but sleep. 13 hours people. It,s a long, long time to be on a train. But we got over it and made do. Beds werent too bad…

Loving Barcelona so far. Checked into our hostel (which is very nice & in a great location, score!) & then we majorly majorly pigged out on pastries. May have been the best ones yet! Enjoy using my Spanish here, itś worked pretty well thus far!

This hostel has a computer, so hopefully Iĺl post again tomorrow!

Thanks for stopping by!


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