As some of you will know, myself and Phil recently went home to Ireland for Claire’s wedding (my best friend)! We decided to tag on a little trip to Italy at the end before coming back to Toronto, as neither of us had ever been to Italy. Here’s the details of our trip!
Day 1 – We arrived in Dublin airport at about 5am only to learn that our flight had been cancelled. After a very confusing few minutes, we learned all flights to Italy had been cancelled due to air traffic controllers in Italy being on strike. We were so upset – our trip to Italy was only 4 days, so we didn’t have any time to waste AND we had a reservation in a Michelin star restaurant that night. Rather than hang around the airport for the day to see if we could fly out that evening, we got a flight to Zürich, and then a 3 and a half hour train from Zurich to Milan. We finally arrived in our hotel in Milan at 5pm that evening with just enough time to relax for a few minutes and then get ready for our Michelin star experience at 7.30pm.
The restaurant was called Innocenti Evasioni, and I’m not going to lie, when the taxi dropped us off, we thought “this must be wrong” as the restaurant is down this strange-looking alley. But don’t let that turn you off, the restaurant itself was great, very small, minimal decor, and a little cute garden out the back. One funny thing was our reservation was for 7.30pm but when we got there at that time they weren’t ready for us (we later learned that Italians eat much later than us) so they sent us down the street for a drink and we returned at about 8.15pm. This turned out to be great as we got to have a drink in a lovely local bar with some locals who actually planned out itinerary for the next day – including some restaurant recommendations!
When we got back to the restaurant another surprise awaited us – Claire & Jonny (whose wedding we had just attended in Ireland) had sneakily found out which restaurant we were going to and called ahead and paid for our meal as a present for our engagement. We were not expecting that at all so that was amazing! We decided to do the tasting menu, which was 9 courses because we wanted to try as much as possible and it did not disappoint. Every course was better than the last with the highlights for me being pigs feet and the liver ravioli – delicious!! The cheesecake we had for desert was also fantastic. Overall, I would highly recommend this place. We also had THE most amazing bottle of Chianti I’ve ever had there!
Day 2 – the next day we got up and out to explore, our hotel, Hotel Mozart, was located in Sempione, pretty close to Parco Sempione so we went for breakfast and then strolled to the park. At the entrance to the park is the “Arch of Peace” so of course, we took our obligatory pictures there and then continued to stroll around the park. Castello Sforzesco is also inside the park, which is an enormous landmark. You can take tours, but we weren’t in the mood so we just wandered around ourselves and took some pictures in the courtyards outside. Outside the castle, there is a big fountain, which was a great area to sit, relax and people watch! We then kept wandering along the streets of Milan for a while and quickly realized we were really close to the Duomo di Milano – a stunning cathedral in Milan city. The Duomo did not disappoint, it really is stunning and so intricate, we were amazed by all the detail. We found a restaurant facing the Duomo and enjoyed some cocktails in the sun! We then carried on to find La Scala – the Opera House, as my Mam had recommended seeing the inside, but alas, it was closed when we got there. So the rest of the day was spent eating, walking and stopping off for drinks or coffees!
That night, we went to one of the restaurants that the local couple from the night before had recommended to us – The Botanical Club. This time we waited until about 8pm and it was busy when we got there, but not packed, however, most tables had been reserved, so we had to sit at the bar, which was fine but if you would prefer a table, call ahead. By about 9pm, the place was jam-packed and it had a great atmosphere. It seemed to be a very trendy spot to be in Milan. They make their own gin, and have an amazing cocktail list and the food all had an Asian flare to it. We both loved it and had a great night, so thank you to that lovely Italian couple for the recommendation!
Day 3 – we were up early to pick up our rental car and head to the vineyard in Agliano Terme, this was the part of the trip I was super excited. I won’t go into all the details but getting the car was a disaster, with the worst part being they told us that we could not drop it back out of hours. We had already arranged to drop the car off at Turin airport as we were flying out of there and we wanted the car for 2 full days and 2 nights, and to drop it back at 4am in Turin airport. They advised they didn’t do out of hours drop offs, which seemed and still seems, absurd to me. Unfortunately this meant we had to cancel out 2nd night in the vineyard and book into an airport hotel for a few hours on the Friday night. I was really disappointed at this and there may have been some tears…. Needless to say, we will not ever use Budget Rental again after that experience, anyway off we headed to Agliano Terme, a 2 hour drive from Milan.
When we got to the vineyard, NaturalMente Wine Resort, it was just as I expected;
secluded, yet only a 5 minute drive to the town of Agliano Terme, small and beautiful. I fell in love with the place and couldn’t recommend it enough. The owner – Andrea, was so kind and helpful and he was always making sure we had everything we needed. We had arranged a wine tasting that evening and it was fantastic. The tastings we had were very generous and Andreas said to us on numerous occasions that if we wanted any more wine, to help ourselves. The tasting also came with delicious cheeses, cold meats, olives etc. We did the wine tasting out in the gardens, surrounded by the rolling hills of vineyards, and it was just so peaceful and so beautiful. We had then arranged, via NaturalMente, dinner in a restaurant in Agliano Terme that night so we headed for that. While the food in the restaurant was nice, it wasn’t amazing and I think in part that was because we had booked a package through the vineyard, so it was just a fixed menu and we had no options. We did see other food coming out that looked better so I would have liked to order from the menu. However, we had another fabulous bottle of wine and enjoyed our night.
Day 4 – As I mentioned, the vineyard is really small. There is only 9 bedrooms, and I imagine they are all similar to the one we were in, which was amazing. It was so spacious and meticulously put together, and overlooked the pool and garden area of the resort. The whole resort was so spotless, it actually looked like they had just renovated, it was perfect. After breakfast out in the garden the next morning, we spent some time relaxing by the pool before we had to leave to head to Turin airport to drop the car off. I was really bitter to be leaving when we had panned to stay there for 2 nights, but the owners were so gracious and understanding that they didn’t even charge us for the second night. We did a quick tour of the cellar to see where the wine is made, bought a couple of bottles of wine and headed for Turin.
Turin airport is about a one hour drive from the vineyard and we had planned to drop off the car, check into the hotel and then get a bus into Turin (about 20 minutes), however, when we got to the hotel, it was pouring rain, like torrential rain that lasted for hours so we didn’t actually make it into Turin and just spent the evening relaxing, had dinner and enjoyed some wine on our last night in Italy. Overall, although it was a short trip and we had a few things that went wrong, causing it to be a bit rushed, and not exactly what we had planned, we still had a fabulous time, with my highlight being the vineyard.
Hotel Mozart, great location, nice hotel with a good spread for breakfast, clean but rooms are very small. We were in a double room and with our suitcases in there, there wasn’t much space to move around.
Turin Airport Hotel and Residences: 10 minute drive to the airport, looks like a new hotel, the rooms were gigantic including a breakfast area, it was great value and the restaurant was good.
NaturalMente Wine Resort – I’ve already gushed about the place above, it’s fab and I want to go back!!!
Until next time 🙂