After our whirl-wind tours of Florence and Bologna, I was perfectly happy spending a Saturday running a few errands with my cousins and relaxing. By the time Sunday rolled around, however, I was recharged and ready to see some more of downtown Milan. After watching an impromptu parade and getting some delicious pizza at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo we headed over to Piazza del Duomo. Even though I went to the Duomo during my last trip to Italy (10 years ago), my memory did not do it justice. Both the outside and inside are beautiful and filled with intricate details.
We spent an hour or so at the Duomo and then headed across the piazza to check out the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is a high end mall with great architecture and a really beautiful glass ceiling. By the time we had finished wandering through the Galleria, we were definitely in need of a gelato break. Luckily we happened across Grom a few blocks away. I tried their Chocolate Sorbetto and Salted Caramel Gelato which were both were so delicious I can’t wait to try and recreate them! We finished off our last Sunday in Italy by going to a Japanese restaurant with my cousins. It was really interesting to see the differences between US and Italian sushi. Plus since Milan has a huge fish market, everything was extremely fresh tasting!
While I was more than happy to take it easy over the weekend, I knew that Monday we were going to have to do something a bit more adventurous in honor of my birthday. After some last minute internet research, we decided that a trip to Lake Garda would give us a chance to see a different side of Italy without spending too much time traveling. We took a 7:30am train out of Segrate and after only one change we made it to Desanzano a little after 9am. As soon as I caught my first glimpse of Lake Garda, I knew we had made a great choice. Between the crystal clear blue water and the mist covered mountains, it was like we were in a fairy tale. While we waited for the next ferry to Sirmione, we grabbed a quick bite to eat for breakfast including my new favorite coffee drink, a marocchino, and a ricotta filled brioche.
The ferry ride to Sirmione only took about 15 minutes and was full of gorgeous views of the water, mountains, and towns surrounding the lake. As we pulled up to Sirmione we got a great view of the castle, which looked like it was right out of a storybook. We made the castle our first stop and the storybook similarities were only enforced when we found out that it had a moat complete with swans. Unfortunately, the castle is closed on Mondays so we weren’t able to go in, but the views from the outside were still fantastic! We spent the rest of the morning exploring Sirmione and it’s beaches. It was great getting to spend time outside, with no set schedule, and most importantly no lines!
Around 11:30am, we decided it was time to find someplace to go for lunch. We all agreed that our top priority in a restaurant would be a great view with food in a close second. While Sirmione has tons of restaurants, most fall into two categories: very expensive, Michelin star type restaurants and restaurants that cater to tourists with menus full of things like burgers and fries. Luckily we stumbled across a Ristorante Caruso which fit into an elusive third category, local food with reasonable prices, that just happened to have deck seating jutting out into the lake! We enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the lake before catching a bus back the train station in Desanzano.
While our trip to Lake Garda had already made my birthday pretty special, my cousins had one more surprise in mind. Even though they had to work, they asked my cousin’s wife’s parents and sister to come over and have dinner with us. In true Italian fashion, they made a multi-course meal including mushroom risotto and meats & cheeses. To cap off a delicious meal, they brought pastries from a local bakery and sparkling moscato. It was the perfect way to end not only my birthday but also an amazing two weeks in Italy.
My trip to Italy was absolutely amazing, so much so that I’m already starting to plan my next trip! Thanks to everyone who followed along with my #ItalianSoiree2015 posts!