HOW HAS IT BEEN A MONTH IN MILAN ALREADY?
Since the last time I provided an update, I’ve already completed an entire term of classes, Milan fashion week (and wine week – yes, it’s a thing!) has come and gone, and I’ve pinned down my favorite local haunts and go-to cafes and grocery stores. The time has flown by yet I feel as though I’ve been here for four months rather than one. I suppose this time warp is a good thing as I definitely do not want this year to pass by too quickly!
Despite many, many hours dedicated to a seemingly infinite number of group projects, I’ve still managed to squeeze in a lot of lovely dinners with new friends, a memorable evening at a second-century-church-turned-nightclub, and most recently, a weekend in Barcelona.
OLD FRIENDS, NEW CITY
Despite two previous trips to Spain in the past decade, I had never made it to Barcelona (shocking, I know). When two of my favorite people mentioned they’d be in Europe this month, we quickly solidified a weekend to meet up. As soon as exams ended this past Friday, I packed a single backpack with me to head out of the country for a weekend in Barcelona, Spain.
While part of me desperately wanted to get a solid 8 (or 10) hours of sleep for once, the other part had plenty of energy to meet my friends at an 11 PM dinner reservation immediately upon arrival. Despite the late evening, we were up bright and early in the morning to hit all the touristy hot spots. I have to say, after acclimating to living in Italy, I haven’t really felt like a tourist in a minute. It was honestly enjoyable to have that feeling again – being in a crowd of people who are also from other countries, taking photos of everything, exploring a city with intention, inherently annoying the locals, etc.
Naturally, we started at La Sagrada Familia. We climbed to the top of one of the towers to catch incredible views of the different turrets and details. You hear about this basilica all the time and how impactful it is to see in person. To this point, one of my friends had visible goosebumps the moment we turned the corner one our walk from the Airbnb and got a full view of it for the first time.
I especially loved the stained glass windows. The colors pouring into the interior of the church as the sun hit the glass was incredible. I also loved learning about how there are different species of trees represented in the pillars (which are also called “the forest). If you are planning to visit La Sagrada Familia, download the “Sagrada Familia” app. It is a self-paced audio tour of the entire basilica that you can experience for free. Highly recommend!
Our Gaudi-fueled day did not stop here. Once we finished ooh-ing and ahh-ing over La Sagrada Familia, we went to Parc Guell. Global warming is alive and well here in Europe; it has felt like summer at a spicy 78 F degrees all weekend. Unlike summer, however, the number of tourists was way fewer than in peak season during July and August (a huge plus of travelling in the fall!).
ON REPEAT: TAPAS & WINE
After a quick lunch involved what else but tapas and cava, we partook in the age-old tradition of the siesta before venturing out for more tapas and more wine in the evening. Despite none of us having visited Barcelona before, we were lucky to have received some stellar recommendations from some of my classmates at school.
The first is a wine bar I’m keen to return to one day called Bar Brutal. With a cool interior and interesting wine list, this wine bar is certainly a place I’d be a regular at if I lived in this city. We enjoyed a bottle of skin contact garnacha blanco before heading to dinner.
Dinner was at Bar Canete, another recommendation that far exceeded expectations. The service was stellar but not stuffy. We ordered all kinds of tapas, with the highlights being a green bean, celery, and pine nut salad, lobster croquets, and a very non-traditional paella that had an unexpected yet cozy, savory broth to it. Of course, we ordered a bottle of wine – a biodynamic Priorat.
MILAN WINE WEEK
I flew home (crazy to call Milan home!) on Sunday and participated in one of the last events of Milano Wine Week. What, did you think I’d finally get to bed early?
Wine Week is a series of events including seminars, forums, wine tastings, and masterclasses throughout the city with tons of industry experts. A classic event, I last minute decided to partake in the Chianti Lovers Wine Boat masterclass. Basically, we tasted five Chianti’s while on a small boat in the Navigli canal. Super cool and interesting to try such a range of Chiantis, but as you might have guessed, the entire class was in Italian. I’ve reached a level of understanding where I could pick up on how they described the aromas and flavor notes but the rest, not so much. Nonetheless, floating down the canal while trying some really cool wines was enough.
This week starts our second term. It’s a clean slate and I’m enjoying a week with a light workload before things inevitably pick up again.
Now the question is: where to go next for our long weekend coming up in two weeks? Taking recommendations, so leave a comment with your favorite places in Italy!