You may have seen on my facebook page that I’ve been asking people to suggest countries to visit in Europe. There were absolutely a lot whether it was Iceland, Greece, Norway or even Belgium. But this guest post was submitted to me to try and convince me to 2 Italian cities high on the European Travelling Circuit. Rome and Milan.
Italy has always enchanted the rest of the world with its historical and cultural exports. People talk about how food, art and fashion all have a characteristic ’Italian’ style, but travel around the country and you soon realise how different ingredients, lifestyle and landscapes can be from place to place. A great way to discover the distinctive cultures of the country is to split a trip between two different destinations: for all intents and purposes, let’s say Rome and Milan.
From the ancient Via Appia, lined by the tombs and monuments of important and wealthy Romans, through to the beautiful, cascading Trevi Fountain, Rome is heaving with history. Strolling through the streets and piazzas feels like going back in time, and this is the best way to enjoy the city.
Visit the world’s oldest public gallery, the Capitoline Museums, which are housed in twin palaces and allow you to immerse yourself in breath-taking masterpieces from the Baroque period. Sticking to the historical theme, the Pantheon is the best preserved relic of ancient Rome, and is a mathematical marvel (the diameter of the hemispherical dome is exactly equal to the height of the whole building).
No appreciation of historical Rome would be complete without sampling one of its most famous exports, the traditional Pizza Romana. La Gatta Mangiona on Via Ozanam is arguably Rome’s finest purveyor of the art of pizza making, with the queues to prove it (make sure to book ahead!).
From the time vacuum of Rome, travel north (a scenic four hour train journey) to steely, modern Milan – Italy’s centre of fashion and commerce. Milan’s fashionable heart is the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Quad), where the flagship stores of the powerhouses of Italian design such as Armani, Gucci and Prada reside. Window shopping and people watching around the boutique streets is what can only be described as an endlessly entertaining experience.
Even if you’re shopped out, it’s definitely worth a trip to see the beauty of the grand glass roofed arcade at the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, which is conveniently close to the Duomo. If you’ve built up an appetite, the style and effort of the Milanese fashionistas is replicated in sandwich form at the De Santis sandwich emporium. Over 200 different sandwiches are listed on handwritten posters on the walls, making it rather hard to choose where to start. Cured meats, a range of cheeses, olives and artichokes are just some of the delights to be found between their gorgeous, home-baked breads.
There is currently £25 off flights to Rome with Monarch Airlines, meaning you can soak up all the style and culture of the Italian capital for less.