MILAN AND THE ITALIAN RIVIERA IN 5 DAYS

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This July I found a super cheap last minute Easyjet flight down to Milan with Cassidy, Co-Founder of Circle Seven Five. We started in Milan and made our way down to the Italian Riviera with Flixbus to explore Cinque Terre and the lesser known (but incredible) surrounding cities. I had never been to Milan before and it completely exceeded my expectations and I regret not having planned more time there. Milan is one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world and I understood it the minute I left my doorsteps- everyone was dressed to the nines. We headed down to La Spezia with Flixbus since there is an easy 4 hour direct route from Milan down there. I always love traveling with Flixbus because they have WIFI so I don't miss too much time from work (not to mention it's way cheaper than the trains.) 

WHERE TO STAY IN MILAN

Sometimes I really love getting to experience the city like a local which also means sleeping like one. I booked my night with Brera Apartments for my stay in Milan. I got in super late from my flight and was warmly welcomed at my apartment by the most helpful concierge. They make you feel right at home with plenty of information about the area and incite to the new city. All the apartments are elegant and designed to provide comfort with modern amenities. I was so grateful in the dead of the Italian summer for AC as well. Each apartment is located in the most prestigious and safe of neighborhoods, all walking distance from tons of cafes, markets, and beautiful landmarks. I woke up at 5 AM to stroll over to see the Duomo for the first time (only a 10 minute walk away.) Each apartment is uniquely decorated  and exudes charming Italian adornment (including a black SMEG refrigerator.)

CINQUE TERRE AND BEYONd

I had been recommended by several people to stay right outside of Cinque Terre in the neighboring La Spezia at the Hotel Firenze e Continental. With it being only a one minute walk away from the train station- it puts you in the middle of Cinque Terre in minutes. La Spezia was completely different than Cinque Terre, from its terrain and architecture to its stretching promenades and rolling hills.  Hotel Firenze has been remodeled with brand new rooms and incredible views. From both the bedroom and the breakfast room we had colorful views over the rooftops of La Spezia. The breakfast buffet each morning was lovely where you have to enjoy an authentic espresso with Italian pastries, fresh tropical fruit, eggs, bacon, and fresh squeezes juices.  I was again grateful to have AC to take a break from the sizzling summer heat. You're further away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy Cinque Terre crowds in a far more relaxing and low key place. I really felt like I was immersed in a truly authentic Italian town that hasn't been overran by crowds of tourists- although it is equally as lovely and worth seeing. We loved roaming the wide streets all the way down to the harbor where you can take a 10 minute boat ride straight over to the town of Portovenere. Starting at 6pm at the hotel bar there is a wine tasting with the aperitivo- an array of delicious traditional finger foods. You're also only an hour train ride away from one of our favorite seaside towns of Camogli. 

What else do i need to know?

From La Spezia we spent several days taking the train back and forth to the five Cinque Terre fisherman villages. Each one is vastly different and undeniably impressive. You can buy a 2 day pass that allows you to jump on and off the train at all the Cinque Terre towns from La Spezia to Levanto for 29 euros. The trains are often delayed so make sure you know exactly when the last train is leaving at night so you don't end up stranded. I would highly recommend packing as little as possible because you will get a hardcore cardio work out going up and down all the stairs. It can be very steep. Peak travel times are June-September but it's truly breathtaking a worth a visit any other time of the year (and much cooler with less tourists.) You absolutely have to try the pesto while you're there. We had it on pizza, bruschetta, pasta, gnocchi, you name it. It originates from Genoa and is one of the most popular dishes in the region. We also ordered the Melon & Prosciutto at almost every meal. A lot of places in the region (just like a lot of smaller places in Europe) only accept cash for most things. Make sure to get cash out in Milan or a bigger city before you get down there because a lot of ATM's didn't accept my German EC card. 

Caitlin CollinsComment