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It’s June 25, 2018 and Summer has finally arrived and Vince and I are on our way to Milan, Italy.

The impetus for this trip is to surprise Irena, Vince’s cousin at her 60th birthday party in Rome.

Irena, Davide, their sons and family are originally from Torre del Greco, Napoli; we met with them on our honeymoon almost 33 years ago. We have visited them at their home in Roma and over the years they have traveled to New York along with other cousins who have stayed at our home at various times. And, of course, because of Facebook, we are in contact almost every day. That is the beauty of social media with the ability to stay in touch with family and friends who are at a distance. Up, up and away to Milan, Lake Como and Rome for a quick one week. Ciao NYC for now!


A cosmopolitan city, fashion capital of the world and a business center filled with culture, style and wonderful Italian food, wine and tradition. Hotel Principe di Savoia was our home for 3 nights and we loved its class, tradition and attentive service as a fine boutique hotel. Artist Antonio Tamburro is featured throughout the lobby with many abstract canvasses displayed. Love his style. Milan is known as the 3F Italian city: Fashion, Furniture and Finance. High style and boutiques on Via Montenapoleone and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which houses the flagship department store, Rinascente. Visit the rooftop bar, Maio for an afternoon aperitif overlooking Il Duomo, where you can hear the church bells and the choir singing during a religious ceremony. The Brera district, the artistic heart of the city reminded me of SoHo in NYC; an enchanting atmosphere boasting small artisans’ workshops and quaint stores. We stopped in the Accademia di Belle Arti and observed the many art, fashion and architectural students from many places in the world fulfilling their dream. Their works are displayed and classes were in session. So cool!

La Scala - Opera House

Look closely, these fashion shoes are made out of dark, milk and white chocolate. What a dream!

The Galleria is an elegant four-story arcade with over 50 luxury cafes and famous designer shops, including Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Versace, Louis Vuitton and other iconic standouts.

Il Duomo, under restoration is a spectacular Gothic church constructed on and off over a period of 450 years, beginning in 1386. The cathedral (Duomo) is the symbol of Milan and is most majestic from the various terraces, where you will be surrounded by an outburst of pinnacles and the famed golden “Madonnina.”

Il Duomo

A few steps from Il Duomo is Teatro alla Scala, offering opera, ballet and other musical performances since 1778. You may remember the time when the infamous Luciano Pavoratti performed La Traviata and other opera favorites at this most renowned opera house.

The Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci

Located at the ancient Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, The Last Supper can only be viewed when purchasing a ticket in advance, which allows you a 15 minute time slot in a small group; quite civilized. Make sure to buy way in advance, as tickets are often sold out.

DaVinci painted this work on the wall in this convent between 1494 and 1498. On the opposite wall is the fresco of The Crucifixion; thus the initial and final episodes of the Passion of Christ are both represented in this same location. It is said that Jesus made this pronouncement at this dinner with the 12 disciples: “Truly I tell you. One of you will betray me.” The expressions on the disciples faces, their postures and the movement of their hands express their emotions when hearing this shocking news. Leonardo did not rely on the traditional fresco painting style, but rather experimented with an innovative “dry” technique. This choice enabled the artist to proceed slowly while contemplating the seriousness of the event he was depicting. However, this form of execution made the painting extremely fragile showing signs of deterioration just a few years after completion. Numerous restorations have been necessary over the centuries, with the last one completed in 1999. The controversy of this painting recently was brought to light in the best seller novel, The DaVinci Codeby Dan Brown, claiming that Mary Magdalena was seated to the right of Jesus, and not John. What do you think about this mystery?

DaVinci’s “The Last Supper”

Eataly – opened in March 2018 in Milan. With the same concept as Eataly in New York, by celebrity chef and entrepreneur Lidia Bastianich, “We sell what we cook, we cook what we sell.” Smaller and less crowded than in NY, the Milan Eataly has a cooking school within the 3 story building, a wine store, fish shop, butcher, fresh pasta area and also cafes featuring the goods sold in each section of the market. Grab a gelati on your way out and sit outside and people watch. La Dolce Vita!

Milan, part of the Lombardia region of Italy is known for certain Italian foods. Polenta (corn meal), branzino (Mediteranean sea bass), ossobuco, cacio e pepe, burrata and risotto. Cacio e pepe has become a chic dish on many NYC menus and is loved because of its simplicity, made only with 2 types of freshly grated cheeses (Grana Padana or Parmesan and Pecorino,) pepper and the salted water from the pasta pot.) As Lidia says it best, “Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are and where you come from. It gives you stability and a sense of belonging.” I remember my Mom talking about how her Mom, my nonna Trusiana, who was from Abruzzia, cooked polenta served with pomodoro sauce as a staple item for her family. In the countryside of Milan, you can see the corn stalks growing in abundance, which is a type of corn used for the corn meal or polenta.


50 km from the center of Milan is the most beautiful tourist attraction of romantic Lake Como, with numerous villages and villas along the lake with the backdrop of the Swiss Alps. George Clooney, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone and John Kerry are just a few celebrities who have made this picturesque lakeside area their home. Ville D’Este, an elegant and charming 5 star hotel since 1873, can be admired from the boat cruise along the lake. Our tour began with a one hour bus ride from the Milan Visitors Center to the town of Como. Our guide explained the Como Duomo, which is dedicated to the Blessed Lady of the Assumption. The various architectural styles (gothic, Renaissance, baroque) are seen in the arches, naves and tapestries within the cathedral, built in the 14th century. Walking through the town of Como, I was reminded of notable fabrics, such as Como silk (seta) and Como cotton velvet, recently used to reupholster our settee in our new living room. Charming shops and cafes along the walk through the quaint town of Como, while listening to street musicians playing Italian favorites on the violin and accordion. Bellissimo. The lake is a total of 56 sq. miles and almost 1400 ft deep. We cruised halfway to the peninsula of Bellagio, a village built in the hills with stone steps leading to the many shops and cafes. With only 3,000 inhabitants, Bellagio is mostly populated by crowds of tourists, particularly in high season from May through September. We sipped on a Gavi wine along the lake waiting for the ferry to take us back to the coastline across the lake, for the scenic bus ride back through the various towns on the lake and then back to the city of Milan.

Italo, is the fast train line from Milan to Rome. Book yourself in club class and enjoy the benefits of the Italoclub at the Milano Centrale train station and food and beverage service and wifi during the 3 hour ride through the countryside traveling south. It’s a relaxing way to travel within Italy and it’s always good to see the beautiful architecture of the grand train stations which exist throughout Italy and Europe.


Who can resist a visit to Rome? Filled with old world Italian history, charm, food and wine that reflects the Italian people and their beautiful country. I tossed three coins in the Fontana di Trevi 40 years ago almost to the day and I have returned to this amazing city many times.

Having no agenda in Rome is a good thing. Just walking along the main streets or the side alleyways; every corner has a story to tell with yet another piazza, fountain, statue, museum or ancient ruin. Despite the sometimes chaotic and disorganization, I am in awe once again by the history, the culture and the artistic beauty of this romantic city. Each café, trattoria, ristorante, salumeria or bar offers an assortment of delicious Italian foods: paninis, sandwiches, burrata, pizza, pasta, risotto, salads, grilled vegetables, espresso and cappuccinos with dolci and more. It’s difficult to find a bad meal here in Rome. Gelaterias are on every street; one place had 150 flavors to offer and was packed with people, young and old at 11PM in the evening. The streets of Roma are alive till late hours of the night. Italians love to meet and drink and eat with friends and family for their big meal mid-afternoon and then again in the late evening.

Pistachio & La Straciatella Gelati

Of course, I needed to return to the iconic Fontana di Trevi, just for the nostalgic factor. All cleaned up and fully restored with the piazza packed with tourists, children, people from all over the world following the tradition of “tossing three coins in the fountain” as they held on to their selfie sticks. Walk along Via del Corso and browse through the many shops selling beautiful Italian leathers and mens and ladies fine clothing. Then to the Pantheon (constructed in 27 BC) and the Piazza della Rotunda surrounded by cafes and musicians singing opera, playing an instrument or displaying some art for sale. Not enough time to take it all in. I stumbled upon Piazza Navona and marveled at Bernini’s beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center. The famous Tre Scalini and Bellini ristorantes are here offering typical Roman dishes, i.e. Bucatini Amatraciana, Veal Saltimbocca and Gamberi di Pomodoro.

Trevi Fountain

I hopped in a taxi to head back to our hotel for some relief from the over 90 degree temperature and my sore feet from walking on the cobblestone streets. The taxi ride was another fabulous adventure passing Piazza di Spagna, the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Circus Maximus and -– sites which I would recommend you see with your own tour guide. Giovanni Tanoni is available and will plan a customized 4 hour tour for you and your family, filling your head with history and culture in a most charismatic Italian way. Giovanni will also customize your visit to The Vatican and San Pietro di Basillica, purchasing your tickets in advance to skip the lines. This tour is one of my favorites and culminates with time in the Sistine Chapel. For this trip, Vince and I arrived at St. Peter’s, waited on the security line for about ½ hour, to enter and just stroll around and revisit the many works of art and chapels within this spectacular Basilica. La Pieta, Michelangelo’s most famous work completed at age 24 can be viewed behind the bullet proof glass enclosure. It gave me the chills once again.

Bernini’s Baldacchino is over the Papal alter and above the site of St. Peter’s tomb. Walking down the center aisle, you can read the inscriptions marking the length of the most famous churches in the world and get a perspective of their size versus St. Peter’s, which is the largest church in the world at 730 feet long, 500 feet wide and 448 feet high. It’s hard to take this all in for one visit. That is why, people return over and over again, just to get one more opportunity to experience the profound history of the eternal city of Rome

St. Peter's Square

Michelangelo's "La Pieta"

Uber in Rome took us into the country about one hour from the center to Irene’s 60th birthday party. Yes, she was surprised to see us coming all the way from New York. It was a sweet evening, enjoying Italian family on a farm with customary Italian food and desserts. Oh, what a night! Watch this video – it’s a good one!

La famiglia

Cugina Eliana, Amore

Can Never Get Enough of Italy!

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janet vitiello
janet vitiello
Feb 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Can never get enough of Italy.

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