Buongiorno! It’s 9am and we’re on the road to Cinque Terre. We weren’t expecting to have such a big day yesterday but we did so much again.
We had the classic breakfast again this morning – so many croissants! I (Aimee) couldn’t do this sweet breakfast for the rest of my life. When there’s bacon and cheese I always make a savoury croissant. Ronnie loves the classic Italian breakfast.
It was an 8am departure which was a bit tough for a few contiki travelers because of a big night the previous night. If you are late to the bus you are left behind. There is no leeway. It’s not the end of the world because you can catch up but it would be an expensive lesson. Well, a couple traveling together didn’t make it to the bus! They woke up 15 minutes after 8, saw the bus wasn’t there and said ‘fuck it’ and went back to sleep. So lucky them for the extra Z’s!
We drove from Venice to Sirmione which is a town in the Lake Garda district. It has a beautiful castle and it’s so close to the Austrian border that people drive there for a day trip on the weekend. We could not even imagine that!
We had an hour to spend in Sirmione before our private lake cruise. Jimmy suggested we get a gelato brioche sandwich so of course we did. I got caramello gelato and Ronnie had vanilla (adventurous…haha). The sandwiches were delicious – creamy gelato and sweet brioche rolls, yum.
After we got our sandwiches we walked around the castle and to the water where this dog of a duck was terrorising all of the other ducks around. It sounds stupid but was actually hilarious.
At 11am we all met up to board the boat for the lake cruise to another town called Saló. The views on the cruise were beautiful. We went by this palatial villa that was Venetian style owned by the Borghese family (the same family who owns the gallery we visited in Rome).
When we arrived in Saló we had 45 minutes for lunch. Ronnie and I sat down for pizza that Jimmy recommended. We didn’t realise the size of the pizza when we ordered so we ordered one each – margherita and prosciutto pizzas. Well they were huge! Ronnie had a spritz and I had some house red. It was all delicious. The pizza had a great tomato base and the cheese was salty and tasty. Ronnie added chilli oil to his and liked that addition.
After lunch we got on the bus to drive to Milan. It was only about an hour and a half drive. We arrived at 2:30 and had just 40 minutes to get ready to get dropped into the city before our optional dinner. Ronnie and I are used to these tight time constraints on contiki but it’s tough when over forty people has to get their luggage into their rooms. It can reduce refreshing time to 15 minutes.
We were dropped at the castle in Milan and walked with Jimmy to the Duomo. The duomo in Milan is one of the most stunning buildings we have ever seen. From the Duomo we split up from the group and walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is a shopping mall with every high end brand you could think of (Versace, Louis Vuitton). It’s safe to say Ronnie and I quickly wandered through and did not enter any shops.
We started to wander back towards the castle but we heard music and stopped at the of the pedestrian area to find a full band playing a rock show straight out of a hippy van. It was so cool to see that. Jimmy is so into music and is a professional drummer so we ran into him there.
We listened for a while and then wanted to see the only Starbucks in Italy just for the novelty of it. It was insane. There was a fancy bodyguard at the door and inside there was a huge machine roasting the beans. We didn’t buy anything because it would have been a million bucks.
After seeing Starbucks Reserve Roastery (fancy name even!) we walked back to the castle to get the classic Milano street food before dinner called panzerotti. It was just like a fried calzone with lots of cheese and tomato pizza sauce inside. Jimmy shouted which was nice of him. We sat on the grass outside the castle until dinner time listening to buskers.
Our optional dinner tonight was in a chef’s home. The chef was on Masterchef. We walked in and he had a nice kitchen setup with a little dining room with art around made with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. We started with antipasti – cured meats, picked vegetables and cheese. It was salty and tender and creamy.
We then went into the kitchen for a demonstration for a really easy canapé. It was baked egg plant sprinkled with brown sugar, caramelised with a blow torch and finished off with grated salted ricotta. It was different from anything we’ve ever had but it was nice.
Our main was the most scrumptious fettuccine al ragu. The ragu was cooked for 20 hours. Ronnie thought the pasta was even better than the sauce.
Our dessert was tiramisu made in front of us. It was pretty classic but when is tiramisu not good?!
When we were at the Duomo earlier we saw the set up for a concert that only happens once a year performed by what is considered to be amongst experts one of the best orchestras in the world. I managed to convince Ronnie to get back there because it’s a huge world wide event and was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. We took a taxi with two contiki buddies to the Duomo and showed up at the stage. It was unbelievable. The view of the Duomo with the orchestra playing beautiful classical music was majestic. It was worth the sore feet and tough wake up this morning.
After the first session of the concert we made our way back to the hotel easily on the metro and went straight to sleep.
- Lunch – €31
- Cokes – €4
- Optional dinner “eat with Milan” – €70
- Taxi – €14
- Metro -€3
Well under budget again – molto bene!
Today we are bussing it to Cinque Terre!
Ronnie and Aimee