Would you believe me if I told you that it’s been 4 years since my last vacation? No, seriously. Sadly, over the past 4 years there have been a few obstacles that made it impossible for me to take a vacation. From taking care of a loved one after an operation, quitting a mentally destructive job, and then starting a new job almost a year later, I couldn’t justify going away.
But feeling the effects of being burnt out from work and needing some creative inspiration, I knew it was time for me to jet off somewhere.
The last place that I vacationed was Italy. I fell head over heels in love with the country in the summer of 2014. On that trip I stood in the ancient ruins of the colosseum, relaxed on a gondola ride in Venice, and ate the BEST FOOD OF LIFE in Tuscany. Life was good!
So it really wasn’t a difficult choice for me to decide to go back this year. Truthfully, I had originally planned to travel to Spain, but since all the tours I was interested in were sold out, I knew in my heart that I would inevitably return to Italy.
After a week of going back and forth with my Travel Agent discussing potential tours, and subsequently missing out on tours due to their popularity (beware, July is high season to travel to Europe), she eventually asked me if I wanted to go to Milan. I reluctantly said yes. I’m no fashionista, so going to one of the fashion capitals of the world wasn’t even on my list of places to visit. But as the end of the week approached I really wanted to settle on a tour, so I told her to “book it.”
Literally seconds after that I felt the regret of my decision. I was scared that it wasn’t going to live up to my first trip to Italy. My first trip was life changing and I didn’t think anything could surpass or even come close to the joy I felt. I was also nervous about travelling alone. I have travelled alone in the past (I did solo trips to France and my first trip to Italy), but due to the craziness happening in the world as of late, I was nervous.
I had to get over those feelings real quick as I just gave my Travel Agent the okay to charge my credit card!
Off to Milan
After a month of planning my trip, I nervously left Toronto and landed in Milan ready to start my tour of Northern Italy.
To give you an idea of how I spent my 8 days in Italy, I chose to highlight a few events and places that stood out. Enjoy!
My tour mates and I spent many days on the water, but our first day in Milan was spent sailing on Lake Como. Believe me, there’s no surprise why it’s a celeb hot spot (George Clooney frequents it a lot!)– it’s absolutely stunning! There were majestic looking houses practically floating on the lake. I didn’t even want to pinch myself because if I was dreaming, I didn’t want to get up. Never in my life would I think I’d be basking in the sun on Lake Como. Feeling like Beyoncé right now!
When I realized that we would be visiting this mall I was excited. I’ve seen pictures of it on TV, and I was happy that I would be able to see it first hand. It’s a breathtaking structure housing that is almost too pretty to be a mall. Seriously, I rather study every inch of it rather than shop for clothes.
The only thing that I forgot to do it at the galleria was find the floor tile with the bull on it, and spin on it for good luck. Actually, no one knows why tourists do it, they just do!
Being a hardcore foodie, I can’t say enough about the food I consumed during this trip. I ate so much I legit didn’t think any of my clothes would fit me after the tour. Luckily the hours of walking we did, helped me keep off any extra weight.
For 8 days I feasted on the best pasta, pizza, cheese, prosciutto and salami. I don’t think I went a day without having at least 3 things off that list! It really was hard to say no to the food as everything was fresh and flavourful. I even tried fried sardines for the first time and loved it!
But my most memorable dish was the gelato a tour mate and I got after walking an hour in the blazing hot sun (Please keep in mind that Italy is excruciatingly hot in July and August). I was able to choose 2 flavours, so I ordered coconut and tiramisu. The coconut was delicious, but the tiramisu was LIFE. I have never had anything as creamy, smooth, and bursting with flavour as that. Never!
I’m a wine girl, so being in the land of wine, I was in heaven. Every meal was paired with wine or prosecco (Italian champagne), so you know I was happy! Coming back home to have water with each meal was a hard adjustment. : (
There is no doubt that this is a fashion capital – everyone dresses flawlessly. People of all ages take pride in what they wear and it shows. I loved seeing older women rocking colourful dresses knowing that they look damn good. I loved their confidence!
Although we travelled to only 2 villages of the 5 of the tourist must-see spot, Cinque Terre, Portofino has my heart. This holiday resort/ fishing village is incredibly picturesque. It’s like no other place I’ve ever visited. It just seemed that at any given moment paparazzi would jump out and take a pic of a vacationing celeb– it was that bougie.
It was in this spot that we dined at Delfino restaurant and indulged in the yummiest appetizers (I had the best tasting olives ever!) and drank wine. I kept thinking, do I really need to go back to my old life? lol
I honestly don’t think I would have had such a good time if I weren’t for a bunch of great people that I met on the tour. Most of the tour was made up of couples and families, but there were about 6 solo travellers that I got along with and hung out with throughout the tour. They made every day fun.
One of the coolest nights I had was when 2 of my tour mates and I crashed a private party, foolishly tried to blend in, but were but escorted out after 1 song! It was so worth it!
These were just a few things that I loved about my trip. I had fun meeting new people, eating the best food, and just living life. This trip made me realize that I will never wait 4 years to travel. But most importantly, it made my love affair with Italy stronger.
If you have any more questions about the tour, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at michelle[at]wordswithmichelle.com