When in Europe, you must travel. Day trips and weekend trips are affrordable and can be planned ahead of time so you can save even more money. Milan is in Northern Italy which is a perfect location in terms of proximity to other countries. It easy to take a train, bus or even plane out of Milan's three airports.
This past weekend I went to Florence, and let me tell you that it was the best weekend of my life. I spent one night in an Airbnb, but if you are looking for something more affordable, take advantage of all the hostels Florence has to offer. It's a small city with tons to see and do. It's also home to a lot of Renaissance art. As an art lover, I got to explore Galleria dall'academia and Galleria Uffizi. I saw Michaelangelo's David for around 12 euro. My Uffizi ticket cost around 12 euro as well, and I would highly recommend buying your tickets ahead of time to skip long lines. In Uffizi, I saw works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Boticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Giotto and the list goes on and on. I am taking an Art History course on the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, and it was incredible to see the works we were discussing in class the other day. Uffizi has around 100 rooms to view and absolutely stunning views of Ponte Vecchio, which translates to Old Bridge. There are beautiful spots to take pictures on Ponte Vecchio and nearby there is Gelateria Santa Maria, which is by far the best gelato I have ever had in my life. Don't forget to walk around the Duomo di Firenze. Duomo di Milano will always be my first love, but this building was just as stunning and if you have time, get tickets to climb to the top and view Florence from above. Lastly for food, I recommend visiting Mercato Centrale. It's a two-story building with tons of local and foreign food options. I was feeling bold and tried something called "lampredotto" which is cow stomach. I had a good laugh after I finally realized what it was, but take risks and try something new. I will never forget the time I have spent in Florence and I can't wait to visit again. Until next time, Firenze.
Two weekends ago, I decided to stay in Milan. There is so much to see and do here and I have yet to grow tired of this bustling city. If you are in Milan for a few days, I recommend visiting the Duomo, Pinacoteca di Brera (surprise! another art musuem) and walking around Navigli. The Navigli grand Canal is located in the southern part of the city and is easy to reach by bus or metro. I recommend trying apperitivo at a restaurant along Navigli. Apperitivo is this great Milanese tradition of having drinks and light food/snacks before dinner. For a snack in Milan, you must try Spontini Pizza, or Luini which is famous for these pockets of fried dough filled with Mozerella and Prosciutto. Both are the perfect places to visit if you have a quick lunch break. If you have time, I think it's worthwhile to visit the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano. It's a quiet place for people to walk there dogs or get some fresh air. There are huge monuments and beautiful trees located in the park, and it's free to visit. One great thing about Milan in general is that it has a bustling night life. It's tons of fun to go out for a night of dancing or to see a movie. where they serve espesso, pastries, chips, and popcorn. I love this city for all that it has to offer, and it's just the perfect size that I feel like I can explore most of it during my semester here.
Three weekends ago, I went to Lugano, Switzerland. If you want a quiet weekend on a lake, this is the place for you. It's only an hour north of Milan and my bus tickets cost around 15 euro total. If you would like something closer, stop in Lake Como. In Lugano, I walked around the town and just basked in the slower pace and life style of the people there. I also had Swiss chocolate which was heavenly. This was my first time staying in a hostel alone, and overall it was a really nice experience. One tip for going on weekend trips is to remember to bring your own towel because most hostels don't provide them. The views from the lake are still so fresh in my head, it's like I was there yesterday. One last thing about Lugano, my phone didn't work there because I bought an Italian SIM card that only works in the European Union countries. It honestly was better that way because I was able to fully immerse myself in what I was seeing and doing with no distractions.
I want to end with the hopes that you will travel while you are abroad or maybe this will motivate you to take that trip to somewhere you've never been. These experiences have left me with the happiest memories of my life and I can't wait to share these stories when I get back to the States.