My Italian Road Trip: Tourist Mode

My Italian Road Trip: Tourist Mode

After an absolutely perfect week driving around Toscana and Veneto, it was difficult to find something to cap the trip off. After looking at the map, I figured I would hit Milan, Parma, and Pisa. These cities are known for high fashion, famous cheese & delicious aged ham, and buildings that lean, respectively.

Milan

I arrived in Milan in the early afternoon and checked in to the AC Marriott. The location was central to the public transportation, and they have an onsite parking garage. Since I was only there for 20 hours, I didn’t have time to learn the metro and bus schedule. So I grabbed an Uber and headed over to the Duomo di Milano. I knew I wouldn’t have time to see all the sights in the city, so I had to pick my top choice. This building is spectacular. The whole piazza is splendid. I spent time to make sure I could soak all the beauty in.

Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
Another angle of the Duomo
Another angle of the Duomo
Looking up to heaven
Looking up to heaven
One of the doors of the Duomo
One of the doors of the Duomo
the main hallway in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
the main hallway in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

I will say, all the street vendors are very aggressive and annoyingly persistent. No I don’t want a selfie stick. No, I don’t want your “free” bracelet. Leave me alone. I found this all over Milan actually, but most prevalent by the cathedral. After grabbing dinner at Al Mercante I headed back to the hotel.

Ristorante Al Mercante in Piazza Mercanti
Ristorante Al Mercante in Piazza Mercanti

I had read about this awesome brewery/beer spot, Birrificio Lambrate. As I approached in the cab, the crowd seemed different that most brewery crowds I had seen: tattoos, dogs, bikes everywhere. I sat down and was greeted by an awesome bartender. He set me up with some great beers, and I got to experience some good tunes. Near the end of the night, I met Sara, Lorenzo and Cima. I don’t think the guys spoke much if any English, but somehow we had a great night. Sara was quite fun. I ordered up a round of beers to keep the night going. It is wonderful how a couple beers can bring out the good in strangers.

Parma

The next morning I woke up and made my drive over to Parma. I love prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. These things made this stop an obvious choice for lunch. I was blown away with the old town of Parma and all the architecture. Sadly, it was raining, and my time was limited, so I had to hustle to lunch at La Greppia. My three course, pig-centric meal blew my taste buds through the roof. I had spent the last week in a country known for savory meats and pastas, and this meal rewrote the book entirely for me.

sliced meats... mostly pork...
sliced meats… mostly pork…
Pasta with ham
Pasta with ham
Pork tenderloin
Pork tenderloin

Pisa

My last stop on the Italian Road Trip was Pisa. Everyone kept telling me Pisa is hardly worth the stop and not for the night. But I found the opposite. I found a city full of history (and tourists, sadly) that still retained a historic charm. Of course I went to the Leaning Tower (Torre de Pisa) in the Piazza dei Miracoli. The whole morning drive through the mountains had been soaked with heavy rains. I was bummed, because I thought by the time I got to Pisa, it would be impossible to see. But as if fate were following me the whole way, as I parked in Pisa, the sun came out. All the clouds parted, and for 2 hours I had perfect light to observe the beauty of the area.

Interesting View. Luckily I can look over the toustists' heads
Interesting View. Luckily I can look over the toustists’ heads
Pisa Cathedral
Pisa Cathedral
Walking around the property
Walking around the property
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
La Torre di Pisa
La Torre di Pisa
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
peaking through the windows
peaking through the windows
The sky cleared and gave way to the sun
The sky cleared and gave way to the sun
Pisa Baptistry
Pisa Baptistry
I think she just wanted to be in my picture. I should have asked for her number
I think she just wanted to be in my picture. I should have asked for her number

As I headed to the AC Marriott in Pisa, the rain started back up. It was a nice break in the gloom. That night, I went over to Orzo Bruno for some yummy meats and crafted beers. I then wrapped up my trip at La Torre di Luppolo where I met the lovely Monique and her husband. The whole end to the trip reaffirmed several things: food can be amazing, craft beer is a growing thing all around the world, and good people do exist in this world

Walking up to Orzo Bruno in the rain
Walking up to Orzo Bruno in the rain
More meats
More meats

Overall

If you are travelling around Italy, make sure to add Milan, Parma, and Pisa to your route. Don’t listen to people who say Pisa is overrated. Sure the touristy location is annoyingly full of tourist buses and selfie sticks, but there are some great restaurants and bars around the city.

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