CIAO! Before being fully thrown into the #adulting life, I took a graduation trip to Italy with the lovely Huyen (check out her blog here), who saved us from getting lost many times with her superb sense of direction. Now that I’m back, I wanted to share my journey through the many beautiful cities of Italy. ENJOY!
Day 0: May 17/18
On May 17, we flew with LOT Polish Airlines and had a 11.5-hour flight from LAX to Warsaw, Poland and a 2-hour flight from Poland to Milan, with a 4-hour layover in between. It was the evening of May 18 when we landed due to the time difference. We stayed the night at Malpensa House. The hostel was very close to the airport and offered one complimentary car ride from and to Malpensa Airport. We ate dinner at Quinto Elemento, a pizzeria close to the hostel, and enjoyed my first pizza in Italy…YUM!
Day 1: May 19
Huyen and I took a short trip to the Duomo in Milan in the morning before our train ride to Rome. We only stayed long enough to take a few pictures, but we decided to come back and visit the inside of the cathedral when we come back to Milan.
After the 3-hour train ride to Rome and dropping off our luggage at the Airbnb, we started exploring. But first, a smoothie! Ginger Sapori e Salute is a cute cafe that offered everything from healthy snacks, like acai bowls and smoothies, to hearty meals like pastas and salads. I got the Formosa smoothie, which consisted of papaya, strawberries, and orange.
We visited the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Both were super crowded! We had difficulty finding a place to stand to look at the fountain, and we didn’t even bother to find a spot on the Spanish Steps to sit.
Huyen was craving Chinese food so we ended our first day in Rome with dinner at Hang Zhou. We didn’t order much, but the food was pretty authentic.
Day 2: May 20
Day 2 in Rome, we started our day with visiting the Pantheon. The line looked pretty long, but it moved really fast. Afterward, we got gelato from Della Palma. This gelateria had 150 flavors!!!! And a lot of those were vegan…perfect for my lactose-intolerant struggles. I got a scoop of the vegan pistachio gelato, and it was soooo delicious!
After eating gelato, Huyen’s feet started to hurt (those cobblestones are killer) and she was tired, so I decided to explore alone for the rest of the day. I went to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. While I was there, it started to drizzle, but since it wasn’t raining too hard, I kept exploring. Luckily, the rain stopped pretty quickly. All three historical ruins were really cool and beautiful.
That night, we had a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant, Glass Hosaria, located in Trastevere. I got the linguine made with ginger, lime, parsley, and percebes and paired it with a glass of Chardonnay. For dessert, I tried the chamomile & pollen. Each layer of this dessert had a different type of sweetness, and somehow they all worked together.
Not only was the food absolutely delicious, the presentation was BEAUTIFUL. I wish I had pictures to show you, but I was too busy swooning over their beauty and wondering if I had the heart to take that first bite and ruin the presentation. But as much as I enjoyed looking at it, I enjoyed eating it more.
Some of my friends from college were also in Rome for a summer program, so we met up with them after dinner and hung out at G Bar in Trastevere. The bar offered deals for foreign university students, and we met a lot of other Americans there. It was very small and got crowded very quickly, but the drinks were decently priced, and the music was good.
Day 3: May 21
I enjoyed a super chill morning alone, while Huyen explored the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum. We met up for lunch at Flower Burger, a vegan burger restaurant near Vatican City. This place was very hyped up, but I thought the burger was mediocre compared to other vegan burgers I’ve had. The potato wedges were great, though.
After lunch, we visited the Vatican Museums. We waited in line for an hour before we could buy tickets and enter the museums. Most people visit the museums to see the Sistine Chapel, but there were a lot of other amazing pieces of art. I went through the entire museum in an hour, but I definitely rushed through parts of it. Also, side note: cameras without flash are allowed in the museum except inside the Sistine Chapel.
Often times, it’s difficult to eat healthy while traveling, which was a problem I had while on this trip. Between the pizza, pasta, and gelato, I started to crave veggies. Thank goodness for Ginger Sapori e Salute, where I got the Seggiola raw salad for dinner.
Day 4: May 22
On our last day in Rome, we took a day trip to Pompeii. I loved walking through all the ruins, seeing the architectural structure of ancient houses and temples, and admiring the intricate details of the columns. The archaeological site was so huge and there were so many smaller walkways that I almost got lost and had to wander around a bit to find the exit.
We stopped at Naples on our way back to Rome to eat the best pizza we’ve ever had. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is the pizzeria that the author of Eat, Pray, Love ate at and wrote about in her memoir. Pizza crusts always become hard to chew when they get cold, but this crust was so moist and soft the whole time! The pizza sauce was also fresh and flavorful. Writing about this pizza is making my mouth water!
Day 5: May 23
In the morning, we took a train from Rome to Florence. Because Rome liked to rain during critical moments, we had to walk to the metro station in the rain while dragging our luggages behind us.
We stayed at the Academy Hostel in Florence. The hostel was in close proximity to Galleria de Academia, where Michelangelo’s “David” statue is located. Unfortunately, the line to go in was so long that it rounded the street corner. Since we only had one day in Florence, and we were only interested in the David, it wasn’t worth our time to wait in line.
We decided to visit the Uffizi Gallery, instead. After half an hour of waiting in the ticket line, it didn’t move an inch! We finally gave up and headed to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens, where we discovered that we could buy a combo ticket for the palace, the gardens, AND the Uffizi Gallery. With this combo ticket, we were able to skip the 2-hour ticket line at the museum.
The Uffizi Gallery is the most visited museum in Italy, and for good reason – it is one of the first modern museums and holds beautiful art pieces from the Italian Renaissance period. I also saw a lot of art students sketching in the museum.
The Boboli Gardens is a park behind the Pitti Palace that features a collection of sculptures from the 16th to 18th century. The gardens had a ton of smaller paths that led to different sculptures. I wish I wore more comfortable shoes that day so I could explore more.
I ended up not going into the Pitti Palace, because I already saw so much art on this trip…and my feet hurt…LOL.
I’m only done with Day 5, and this post is already super long, so I’ve decided to divide my Italy travel diary into two different posts. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my trip, so far!