Woohoo, more about our trip to Italy!
Last week, I told you about our time in Acqui Terme, and today I’m walking down memory lane to tell you all about the Italian cities we visited on day trips.
First up – Milan!
We arrived into Milan Malpensa airport the day before the rest of the festival faculty and attendees in order to start getting Cecilia acclimated to the time change. Additionally, the airport was about a two hour drive from Acqui Terme and traveling almost 24 hours to arrive just to tack on another two hour drive didn’t sound at all appealing to me – especially when I thought of how it would be on Cecilia.
We stayed our first night (and one of our nights on our return trip home) at the Moxy hotel located at terminal two of the airport. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel if you find yourself needing a place to stay close to Malpensa. It was a short bus ride and walk across the street from the international terminal and it was a great place to kill time. It has an ultra hip vibe, which you pick up the second you walk into the hotel. Loud dance music is typically playing in the lobby, which is filled with board games, a foosball table, bar and an area where you can buy snacks and prepared food. For a small price you can add breakfast to your stay, which I recommend doing because there really isn’t another place close by for you to grab food.
We arrived in the late afternoon and hung out in our room watching TV for a couple of hours before we went down to find some snacks for dinner. That night we all went to bed around 8pm, but found ourselves WIDE AWAKE at 1am. Thanks, jet lag. We headed down to the lobby thinking it would be quiet and we could just play some board games and we were shocked to find a sort-of club scene down there! There obviously weren’t people dancing, but there was a large group drinking and having a great time, as well as a few other Americans who were enjoying some wine and trying to pass time until they got sleepy again. We probably spent an hour down there eating and playing games before going back up to bed.
We took a day trip to the Milan about a week into our stay in Acqui Terme. Our bus dropped us of close to the Duomo, and we had a few hours to walk around, shop, sightsee and eat.
As you can see from the first photo in this post, the Duomo is magnificent. We weren’t able to go inside because there were two separate lines to stand in (one to buy tickets then one to actually enter the cathedral) and it was a super hot day and we were contending with a tired and hungry toddler. I wish we could have gone in, but it just wasn’t in the cards this trip.
After staring in awe at the Duomo and taking some pictures, we walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The Galleria is the world’s oldest shopping mall and houses the world’s only 7-star hotel. As you can imagine, it is filled purely with high-end retailers and cafes. Aside from that, the vaulted glass ceilings were a sight to be seen, even if we didn’t buy anything at the stores.
After walking around and doing some shopping for a couple of hours, we sat down at a wine bar and enjoyed some prosecco and a charcuterie plate before heading back to Acqui.
A couple of days before we headed back to the US, we stayed at Moxy hotel again and had more time to head back to the city center and visit La Scala Opera House and, of course, do some more shopping and eating. Our last night in Italy we stayed at the Sheraton Malpensa which is attached to the international terminal of the airport. It was a HUGE convenience since our plane left at 6:30am and the shuttle from the Moxy didn’t run at regular intervals at that time of day. The price point was certainly higher than Moxy, but it had more of the modern conveniences you would expect from an American hotel. If you have a super early flight out of terminal one, it’s the best place to be.
A few days after our day trip to Milan, we visited the gorgeous city of Torino (or Turin). I didn’t know much about this city before we left for Italy beside the fact that they hosted the winter olympics in 2006. A few days before visiting, I did some research and got so incredibly excited about our visit after learning more about the area.
Torino was the first capital of Italy, is home to much of the Italian automotive industry, surrounded to the west and north by the Alps and has countless museums. Torino has also been said to be the birthplace of Italian cinema. Because this was an interest to both Travis and me, we decided to to go to The National Cinema Museum.
Lucky for us, Cecilia was asleep for most of our trip, so we could stroll around at a leisurely pace and take some time with the pieces that were of interest to us. One of the best parts about the museum is that there is a glass elevator you can take to the “small temple” at the very top of the building where you get the most breathtaking 360 degree views of the city. The elevator ride is 59 seconds and I felt like I was Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because of the glass elevator and the fact that you go through the center of the museum and up through a single opening up to the temple.
The city Torino is also known for a drink called a bicerin. I was bound and determined to have the drink while I was in the city and I had one at a cafe across from the cinema museum. Now, I have to say that a few other people on our trip had one at a few different places around town and mine seemed different than theirs in looks and taste. A few of the other folks had drinks that looked like normal coffee drinks, but mine looked like a dessert (see below). Mine also had alcohol in it and theirs did not. Either way, the common ingredients in the drink are espresso, drinking chocolate and milk. YUM!
Our last day trip we took from Acqui Terme was to Genoa. Milan and Torino were trips we took with the rest of the festival, but this was one we did just the three of us and two friends we made at the festival. Genoa is the sixth largest city in Italy and the capital of the region of Liguria. It’s located on the Gulf of Genoa and is one of the most important ports on the Mediterranean. We were only able to spend a few hours there due to the train schedule, but we really fell in love with it.
In the time we were there, we had a nice lunch, walked along water, bought some pesto and soaked up the beautiful surroundings.
Our first order of business once we got off the train, was to find Piazza de Ferrari. It is the main square in Genoa and is known for its magnificent bronze fountain. Both the fountain and the square were incredible. It was a super HOT day, though, so we wanted to find the waterfront and hang out there as soon as possible.
Along the way, we loved following the narrow and windy roads in the direction of where we thought the water was. We did this partly because the roads were just too charming to not pass through and because the tall buildings provided us with lots of shade 🙂
We loved the views of the city from the harbor. All of the buildings are brightly colored and look like they were literally built on top of each other on very steep hills. As we were finding our way to the harbor, we saw a beautiful hotel at the top of a hill with a CRAZY staircase leading up to it’s front door. WHAT?!?!? The hotel looked charming, but OMG, I couldn’t imagine taking all of our luggage up those insane stairs.
After we walked along the water for a bit, we stopped to have some gelato and an iced coffee drink called a shakerato. It hit the spot on such a warm day before we headed back to the train. Our time in Genoa was short, but it’s definitely a place where we would love to go back one day and explore more.