Archive for the 'Italy' Category

postcards from milan

View of the Alps

Approaching Milan, the majestic Alps appears outside my window.

Duomo at Night

I first saw the Duomo and its iconic spires at dusk. The intricacies of the facade was a sight to behold. The night quickly fell over the city, and the Duomo turned gold.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II

From one house of worship to another, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II next door is a church for worldly desires.

Via Monte Napoleone

My second day in Milan started with a stroll along Via Montenapoleone. The most revered street on the city’s “Golden Square”, the brands housed here can blind you – from Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to Ferragamo, Valentino and Versace.

Balenciaga

Off Via Montenapoleone on a street named Via Santo Spirito lies the Balenciaga store. The interior is amazing and going through the racks of clothes and displays of its famous leather goods is an experience on its own.

Via Santo Spirito Irongate

On the same street we found this beautiful iron-gated building, such a perfect backdrop for a photograph. Shot a la The Sartorialist by my friend Maureen.

Via Santo Spirito Doors

Opposite is the Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi with its gorgeous heavy doors. It now houses one of the finest museum homes in Europe.

Fiat Planters

These Fiat Planters along Via Montenapoleone are awesome. These are fiber glass versions of the Fiat 500 C model. A “green” car? Definitely.

Armani Manzoni

The Armani flagship store on Via Manzoni is a multi-concept store that covers an entire block and offers the requisite Armani clothing along with chocolates, food, books, and homeware and furnishings.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II

Hungry past lunch-time, we headed to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II where I saw in brilliant detail its beautiful arcades and glass dome. We settled for the restaurant across the Gucci Cafe. I had asparagus risotto with scallops.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II Arcade

The obligatory Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II shot.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II Prada

In front of the Prada store. I got myself a souvenir from here. The paper bag carries the Fratteli Prada (Prada Brothers) label.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II Louis Vuitton

And the Louis Vuitton store. Surprisingly, I did not enter here. A mistake?

Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II Windows

Amazing details on the interior facade.

Autumn in Milan

Stepping out of the Galleria, we viewed the world famous La Scala from this patch of autumn leaves.

Piazza del Duomo Maureen Mark

Maureen and I decided to go back to the Duomo, where I was to take the lift to the rooftop.

Duomo View

8 euros and a short lift ride after, I was treated to views of the city from above.

Duomo Gargoyles

The Gothic cathedral took 500 years to build and is often described as one of the greatest churches in the world.

Duomo Roof Mark

The cathedral is adorned with over 3,400 statues.

Duomo Spires

And 135 spires.

Duomo Details

Everywhere you look is simply breathtaking.

Duomo Piazza del Duomo

The view of Piazza del Duomo and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II.

Duomo Roof Sunset

The best time of the day to go up the roof is towards dusk, as the setting sun romances both spires and spectators.

Corso Como Outlet

I visited the Corso Como outlet on Via Tazzoli on my third day. Tucked within a discreet building, last-season goods from the world’s most exclusive men’s and women’s fashion brands are sold here. This day they had discounts on Balenciaga, Burberry Prorsum, Pierre Hardy and Prada, in addition to the already reduced rates on men’s fashion, accessories and shoes. I got something here, too. The nearby 10 Corso Como store, on the other hand, is a class on its own complete with a bookstore and a cafe.

Navigli

For dinner, we headed to the Navigli District that is famous for its canals.

Officina 12

I had the rich Osso Bucco meal at Officina 12, a great looking place that serves classic and regional dishes. There is also a bar that looks happening.

Dedic Anno

Porta Ticinese with ionic columns and bearing the words Dedic. Anno. 1815.

Grom Gelato

To end this trip, a gelato was in order. We headed to Grom where I had the creamiest and smoothest Pistachio ice cream I’ve had in my life. Ever. It was so good.

Moon over Milan

Milan is as beautiful after dark as it is in daytime. And on my last night, the moon was peeking from behind the clouds. Casting its light to this wide-eyed wanderer. Buona notte Milano.

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in transit: ciao milano!

Milan Duomo

Milan Last Supper

Milan Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

After a tough and extremely cold day shooting by the sea, it’s so nice to know that by tomorrow noon I’m already in Milan, where the temperature is warmer. I’m staying with my friend Maureen until Monday. It’s amazing to be in a new city and have a local tour you around. This should be fun!

Feels like this trip has already started. I won something Italian at an auction tonight, something I’ve been drooling over since it appeared in the runways of Milan. Le sigh.

Have a great weekend everyone!

postcards from cinque terre

Cinque Terre is one of those places in the world you would want to keep a secret from trolling tourists, and yet is amazingly beautiful that everyone deserves to see something so picturesque and way beyond words. If I had one extra week to spend in Italy, there is no doubt I would choose to spend it here.

Strung along Italy’s Ligurian coast, Cinque Terre’s five Old World villages are listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. With regional trains running through La Spezia, Cinque Terre is easily reached from Pisa and Genova. One can hike from one village to the next, some taking hours, while it’s also possible to hop on and off each village with a local or regional train. It’s best to secure a Cinque Terre Card with several day-validity options so you can shuttle yourself at your own pace and convenience, maybe have breakfast in Riomaggiore, lunch in Vernazza, and dinner in Monterosso al Mare.

The first village from La Spezia, Riomaggiore, is characterized by a small beach and a wharf framed by brilliantly painted tower houses. From Riomaggiore one can reach the next village, Manarola (pictured above), by walking along the Via dell’ Amore (Path of Love), a winding cliff-side passage with romantic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Scribblings of love eternal are tagged on mountain walls, railings, and even on giant cacti. Corniglia is the only village that is not directly adjacent to the sea, but is perched on top of rolling vineyards and terraces. Vernazza, the fourth village, is a charming fishing village with a small harbour sitting under the shadows of an ancient castle and a seaside church. Monterosso Al Mare, the last village, has the only extensive sand beach in Cinque Terre (with the beach came the boys, too!). This is where we stayed during our trip, and we were billeted to a fantastic restored villa, equipped with modern facilities and balconies with views of the village and the sea. Each morning we were served freshly baked lemon pies and cakes, and we ended our stay with shots of orange liquor home made by our lovely hostess Maria.

 

If you’re a traveler who appreciates getting lost in small alleys, feeling a part of a world so remote on your fingertips as you brush them against old crumbling walls, and having a laid back vacation away from the hustle and bustle of big tourist city players, then Cinque Terre is definitely a place I would recommend. It is probably the most enchanting place I have seen in my life. I have been so lucky to have discovered and experienced the blinding beauty and sheer charm of the Five Villages. And if you’re lucky, you just might find yourself here one day too.

postcards from florence

Florence is every thing that’s written in books and your customary travel guides. The capital city of the Tuscany region, Florence is brimming with art and architecture, as it is the birthplace of the Italian Rennaisance. Palazzos and wide-open-spaced piazzas arrest you, the domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori makes you stand still, statues made of marble inspire awe and will truly catch your eye.

Florence is less than a three-hour Eurostar train ride from Venice. Try to stay awake as scenes of the Tuscan countryside flash past your window. As we had barely 24 hours in the city, we only went to the big-on-tourists spots and resisted falling in line to get in either at the Uffizi Gallery with its Botticelli and Caravaggio artworks, or at the Accademia with the glorious David of Michelangelo. So we opted to see an exact, and much smaller, copy of David on Piazza della Signoria, along with other statues of equal stature. We also admired the imposing crowning glory of Florence – the Santa Maria del Fiori and its domed cathedral. Towards dusk, we looked out into the great Arno River which cuts through the old part of the city from Ponte Vecchio, before continuing on foot to Piazza Michelangelo for a breathtaking panoramic view of Florence, where the photo above was taken from. It’s truly worth the hike and is best experienced at night. 

Shopping is better in Florence, with more varied clothing shops and fashion houses. I picked up a sweater and a really cute underwear. Then there was also this cute Japanese guy working the street for money. He was drawing Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring on a pedestrian street corner with his bare hands and sticks of chalk. Supa-!!!

                    

Coming up, postcards from Cinque Terre! Also, visit my photoblog at Fresh Frame. Thanks!

postcards from venice

It’s true what they say about Venice. That it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There’s something enchanting, breathtaking and unforgettable about the city. The moment you first behold sight of the city cradled on the Adriatic Sea from your plane window. The moment you get stopped on your tracks stepping into Piazza San Marco. The moment you cross one of the city’s over 400 bridges on a moonlit evening. The moment you finally give in and pay big for that celebrated gondola ride, gliding through the city’s crisscross of canals. The moment you spend an afternoon hopping to the island of Lido reminiscing what it was like in the film Death in Venice. The moment you escape Venice’s cacophonies and have coffee along a canal in Murano. The moment you see the rush of water traffic on the Grand Canal and the rush of nationalities as you stride past a Venetian campo. People from all over the world come to this tiny lagoon city to have the time of their life. To experience something enchanting, breathtaking and unforgettable. 

We spent the first two nights of our Italian rendezvous in Venice, and sweetly ended it there too. We first stayed at the boutique hotel Ca’ Gottardi and I would recommend this hotel for its great location on Strada Nova beside the grand palazzo Ca’ d’Oro and a comfortable walk from the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. It has been said many times, but really the best way to explore Venice is on foot – by just getting lost among the lovely small alleys that seem to whisper memories of the past. And that past is never too distant because Venice breathes and lives in the richness of its history. 

We did all the things a tourist could possibly do while in Venice. We went up the world famous Rialto Bridge. We were among the pigeons of Piazza San Marco. We admired the grandeur of St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile and the Doge’s Palace as they turn color at dusk. We gazed into the Bridge of Sighs while a line of gondolas smoothly glide under. We sampled the Italian fares gelato, pizza, and pasta. We dined with the locals at the always-booked haunt Alla Botte (Calle della Bissa near Rialto; try the tagliatelle with scallops, I was intrigued by this platter of three types of cod). We would also recommend this restaurant called Achiugetta near Piazza San Marco for its modern sleek interiors, reasonable prices, and excellent dishes (Campo SS Fillippo e Giacomo; the spinach mousse with parmesan melts in your mouth). We admired the exquisite Venetian masks and learned the history/characters of each. We took a gondola ride along with an Italian family to save half of the insanely expensive price, the cheapest we could find was 100 euros for a 35-minute ride in the oldest part of Venice. And on our last night, we slowly sipped on our flutes of bellini at the legendary thus ever-crowded Harry’s Bar. We had our final forty winks in Italy at Corte 1321, a cozy bed & breakfast in a quiet alley near the Rialto, with a characteristic courtyard for breakfast during fine days.

All in all, Venice was a good beginning and ending to an Italian holiday I never thought I would covet in my entire life. If only for something enchanting, breathtaking and unforgettable, I would definitely go back to this city in a heartbeat. Now on to the pictures – click on the thumbnails for a bigger, better shot. :)

                                 

coming back at ya

Just letting you guys know that I’m back in Norway safe and sound from my amazing trip to Italy last week. I just have lots of catching up to do (my shopping job, watching recent episodes of tv shows, going back to school and course) so my trip report would come a few days late. I started working on it, sifting through hundreds of pictures I took. I go click-happy with my camera when I’m on holiday, hehehe. See you all in my next post!

In the meantime, have a great week ahead! Ciao!

Location: Casa dei Limoni, Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy


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