Ciao Italia! Roaming Northern Italy

After a pretty intense month of uni, my friends and I booked finally went on our long-awaited trip to Northern Italy. This was our first trip to Europe together, as we only traveled around the UK last academic year due to COVID. We planned this trip in mid-February because we knew we wouldn’t have time to do so by early March. Thankfully one of my friends has an international driver’s license, so we decided to hit Milan and Venice with a road trip in between.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have the same brilliant idea of traveling to Italy or Spain around the Easter holidays. Although it took a little longer this year for spring to reach Europe, it seems to be a consensus to travel to these countries between April and May to avoid the crazy heat, so we expected things to be a bit pricier than normal. Our flights costed around £300 per person, from Gatwick to Milan then return from Venice to Gatwick, which is fairly more expensive than normal for a budget airline flight but we decided to go with it. Because we wanted to travel in comfort, we stayed at apartment hotels in prime locations of both cities, and Airbnbs for the in-between areas during our road trip.

When traveling outside of the UK, remember to bring your passport and BRP! One of my friends and I both hold the HK passport hence we didn’t require visa when visiting Europe, but our other two friends from China needed to apply for visa in advance. 


Our first day in Milan felt like a dream because we were absolutely exhausted from waking up at 5am to get to our 9am flight. By the time we had settled down at our hotel it was 3pm, and that meant most restaurants were closed after lunch hour. We randomly picked a spot that was open and had the most Italian food we could think of – pasta, pizza, and wine. Since most of the day was already gone by then, we decided to spend the first day shopping (window shopping for me/tagging along my friends) before heading to a splendid dinner with ravioli and pasta dishes that still brings joy to me every time I think about it.

We visited Duomo bright and early on the next day, which was filled with tourists all with the same idea of taking many pictures and selfies. Architecturally, the building was stunning and was a great spot for photos. After this attraction, we wandered around Milan for a bit and then called it a night as we had fulfilled our three main objectives of sightseeing, shopping, and eating.

Jackpot! A beautiful day to visit the Duomo and see the sights of Milan!
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was stunning.
The best ravioli I’ve ever had – yum!

Road trip – Lake Iseo, Verona, and Padua

We knew we wanted to head for one of the lakes in Italy. We decided on Lake Iseo as a little getaway to just decompress and chill, as it isn’t as popular as Lake Como or Lake Garda. It was about an hour drive away from Milan on the highway. We stayed at a nice little lakeside house and basically spent most of our time relaxing by the lake and driving to nearby small towns to eat and to wander aimlessly around. It felt really nice to not have a packed itinerary and just to do whatever we felt like in that moment, especially after an intense couple of weeks of assessments and pretty packed days of preparing for the trip and being in Milan.

The lakeside views were surreal.
Finally had some much needed vitamin D from the sun.
Much needed gelato pit-stops along the way.
Loved the fresh seafood at Lake Iseo.
And of course more pasta.

Our next stop, Verona, was yet another tourist city. After spending the past 2 days in essentially the middle of nowhere, we were a bit confused by the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city. We had amazing food, took more pictures of the picturesque city, then fled to our Airbnb in Padua. We chose Padua because it was en-route to Venice, and was much cheaper to stay at than in Verona (about three times cheaper!). It was another interesting city, we ate more pasta, and wandered the charming European streets.

Verona Arena standing proud.


I was surprised at how cold it was in Venice! On the days we were there it was actually colder in Venice than in Guildford. My friend reminded me that we were by the sea, but having seen people posting on Instagram pictures of them in short sleeves had me fooled! Venice was definitely another tourist destination and the streets were basically filled with tourists. Price of food was also much higher than the small towns in Northern Italy, which is to be expected. But we managed to find more great food spots for Italian food, so of course, we ate our weight in pastas and gelato without hesitation!

There was a lot of walking in Venice and my legs were actually very sore (coming from a person who hikes and runs regularly). Because vehicles cannot venture into Venice, we had to walk everywhere, including lugging our three 20kg luggages a good 20 minutes to reach our hotel. We mostly wandered around Venice on the first day and took pictures at different famous spots. On our second day we journeyed out on the waterbus to the nearby islands of Murano (glass island) 20 minutes from Venice, and Burano (colourful brick houses) 30 minutes from Murano. We were very fortunate to have sunny weather during our stay in Venice, and it was truly a very beautiful place to visit for 2 days.

Another jackpot! Venice is beautiful when the weather holds up!
The colourful brick houses of Burano contrasting with the clear blue sky.
The sweetness of the seafood matched perfectly with the tangy tomato sauce.
We ate our weight in pasta throughout the entire trip, and it was well worth it!