I recently went to Milan with my boyfriend and we took a day trip to Varenna on Lake Como. We wanted to get out of the city and hang out on the lake.
We got the half 10 train from Centrale station: you have to buy a ticket for a specific time so we just bought a single in the morning so we wouldn’t be restricted. They cost 6.70 euro each way so pretty cheap! Top tip: sit on the right hand side for the best view. Annoying it started raining just as we were pulling up to Varenna. I was NOT appropriately dressed for rain in just a sundress and sandles. We ended up running through the town in the pouring rain trying to find somewhere to hide. After hiding under a porch for a while we made our way to the centre to look at the church and the main square.
As it was still raining we decided to have a long lunch at a café with a beautiful lakeview. We decided on Nilus which was cheap and cheerful. I had lots of pasta, dessert, and more glasses of the house red than I should at lunch!
When the sun came out, Varenna was absolutely beautiful. We went for a walk around lakeside and it was stunning. The colours of the houses were so pretty and there were so many people sitting on the beaches, swimming in the lake, and paddling.
We went to visit the Villa Monastero. It is one of the two villas in Varenna that you can visit but this one looked bigger and better. We got the house and garden tickets (8 euros each). The garden was so green and beautiful but I would probably give the house a miss if I was going again. The views over the lake were amazing and it was so quiet in the gardens that we could really relax and take lots of pictures.
After we left the Villa we decided to head back to Milan. You can buy the tickets from the little tourist information centre that is attached to the station but it closes at 4pm and then you can buy the tickets on the train.
All in all, was such a good day! The lake was so lovely and there were lots of pretty little restaurants and shops. Apparently Varenna gets super busy with weddings in the summer but in June it was perfect.
I just came back from a four day trip to Italy with my boyfriend, B for our main holiday of the year. I just finished my big project for the first year of my PhD so I was very ready for a break. We went to Lombardy – spending three days in Milan and one day beside Lake Como.
Day 1: Morning and Afternoon
Our flight to Milan Linate was pretty uneventful (but with such beautiful views over the Alps) and I took a little weeny nap on B’s knee like a cat.
Then we had to head into the centre of Milan to get to our accommodation. Public transport in Milan is SO easy. You can get a 90 minute ticket for the Metro and you can use it as many times as you like within that time limit and it only costs €1.50!! So at the airport you can pick up a ticket from Hudson’s News and then you jump on the 73 bus to San Babila and then you can head to the Metro. There probably are day tickets but we like walking so we didn’t investigate.
We were staying at an AirBnB in Amendola on the western edge of Milan but it wasn’t more than 15 minutes to the centre. Our AirBnB was brilliant – it was very small but had everything we needed for £34 a night. It just had a double bed, little table, fridge, hob, and a tacked-on bathroom (shower was good though!). There was also a little balcony but there was building work going on so we couldn’t really enjoy it. This flat is a great choice if you are looking for a base to explore from and don’t look for luxury or want to cook full meals. Also, ask for a fan – we said we didn’t need one but we regretted that as Milanese nights were very hot and still.
Day 1: Evening
The best thing about our flat was its location right by lots of restaurants and we found out that the 4th best restaurant on TripAdvisor was on our street! We reserved a table at Da Vic for our first night ( you deffo need to book and I’d suggest smart casual for dress). The dinner was SO delicious! It started with complimentary prosecco and focaccia, and the chef popped out to say hello! I started with ricotta stuffed courgette flowers and B had fried shrimp and anchovies. Then I had a rich beef ragout pasta and B also went for pasta but with leek and black truffle. For dessert I had tiramisu (my total fave dessert) and B had lemon sorbet. Really amazing food and totally worth the splurge for a romantic dinner. After dinner we were full for the brim and went for a wander around the local area and found lots of other restaurants to try during our trip.
One of the most important things to consider when planning a trip to Milan is whether you want to see the Last Supper. Tickets to see the famous painting sell out months in advance so we didn’t see it. But there are lots of other places to visit that don’t need advance booking.
On our first day we headed straight to the Duomo. When you exit the metro station you come out to an incredible view of the cathedral and other stunning buildings that surround the Piazza del Duomo.
I’d suggest buying tickets to the Duomo online so that you can avoid the queues as we were stood under the hot sun for a while.You can head into the cathedral only for €2 but we also headed up to the roof (in the lift) for €13 (you can take the stairs for €8). On the roof you can look out over the whole city and you can spend ages just looking at the architecture of cathedral which is stunningly beautiful. You can see why it took them 500 years to finish ot!
After the Duomo we were ready for lunch and set off into the direction of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which houses the huge designer brands. B also did the traditional two clockwise turns on the testes of a mosaic bull for good luck.
We found a little trattoria (Trattoria dei Magnani Al Cantinone) for lunch and we both had risotto (Milan is famous for it): mine was made from figs and Castelmango cheese.Then we headed up the Via Dante towards the Sforza castle and stopped for gelato on the way (mango and chocolate: yum!). The castle is a huge square and looks more like a beautiful prison or barracks than a castle. There are lots of exhibitions there but we just looked at Michaelangelo’s unfinished Pietà. It was so interesting, especially if you like sculpture, as it is a work-in-progress.
The last stop was the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio which is a beautiful medieval church that had a lovely courtyard with cool Latin inscriptions and the bodies of Ambrose and a couple of others.
Our feet were sore by this point so we headed home via the shop to buy prosecco and snacks!
Day 3: Morning and Afternoon
We were tired after our trip to Lake Como (post coming soon!) so we had a lazy breakfast and then wandered back over towards the Sforza castle which has a big park behind it. We found a surprise fountain on the way and the walk was lovely! Such a beautiful area.
Then we spent ages in the park drinking beers and eating apricots and we both read our books in the shade of a big tree. B did get bitten by lots of insects though!
Then we headed to the Museo del Novocento gallery which is right next to the Duomo (has amazing views so take a camera) which had lots of interesting Italian modern art and some installations too. That evening we headed out for our final meal in Milan and no sooner had we walked 500m then the heavens opened and it tipped it down with rain. There was thunder and lightning and everyone was running under cover. We had to huddle under a canopy for 10 minutes waiting for it to stop so we could go get some pizza. Definitely a memorable end to a lovely trip!