A perfect day in Milan:

As soon as I stepped foot in Milan I felt like I was home. Probably more so than I’ve felt anywhere else, ever.

Here are my top five things to do in Milan to ensure you have a perfect day.

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1. Buy the current issue of VOGUE ITALIA. Though you could buy it anywhere in Italy I think everyone should buy it in Milan, since it is the fashion capital of the country… it just has more meaning.

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2. Window shop stores you’ve never heard of / could never afford.

These shoes remind me of something a modern Cinderella would wear!
These shoes remind me of something a modern Cinderella would wear!

3. Climb the stairs to the top of Milan’s duomo. It’s the third largest cathedral in Europe!

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4. Then, grab a bite in Milan’s version of “Central Park.”

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5. Go to the museums. Don’t forget to make your appointment to see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper at least six months in advance or you’ll miss it like me! After you see the official museums check out some of the fun art on the streets!

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Try not to leave your heart in Milan like I did.. I’ve been homesick since I left!

Love, Liv

Pack light; Travel cute

Packing light is necessary when travelling, but so is comfort and style. You don’t want to be lugging around heavy suitcases on to trains and ferries, and you also want to be comfortable and look together.
The key is to pack a lot of versatile items that you can wear over and over! Here’s a guide that can help get you started:olivia leigh gaggi
1. Luggage. I used The North Face’s small base camp duffel, it’s great because it is a backpack that doubles as a duffel bag! I know I’ll use it when I’m not travelling, too.
2. Fedora hat.
3. A bright necklace.
4. Hippy shoes.  I know, I know… they’re kind of fugz but trust me you’ll learn to love ’em! You need comfy shoes that have a back strap, especially when you are walking around a lot.
5. Longchamp. Or another light weight easy-to-pack purse. The Longchamp is great because it’s waterproof and it folds up so it can fit in a small packing space when you’re not using it.
6. A sassy scarf. Perfect for sassy-ing up an outfit for night or just accessorizing during the day.
7. Comfy cotton dresses. Old Navy has some great inexpensive cotton dresses. They’re great for wearing during the day and being super comfortable.
8. Versatile shorts. J. Crew, Gap, Banana and Old Navy all have great shorts for traveling. They’re nice, tidy looking and look good with a lot of things. The last thing you’d want to wear are those tacky, little booty shorts in a foreign country. Actually, I hope they are the last thing you would want to wear ever, to be perfectly honest.
9. Basic tanks.
10. Button downs. 
11. Cotton skirt.
12. Colored blazer. They’re fun and can brighten up any outfit.
13. Wedges. Personally, I need a heel. I’m 4′ 11″ and wedges are perfect for giving me a bit of height and are easy to wear.
14. Cardigan. Cardigans are great when it’s just a little cool and you don’t want to wear the blazer. I don’t like to wear sweatshirts abroad because I think they make people stick out like soar thumbs as Americans.
15. Jeans. One or two pairs is enough to pack. You can wear them a couple days in a row and then switch them out.
16. Cross-body purse.
*Don’t forget a bathing suit and sunglasses too! And yes, all those things (and more) did fit into my base camp duffel =]

Five Things to Do: Taormina, Sicily

olivia leigh gaggiHere are my top five things to do in Taormina, Sicily:

1. Have cannoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner (:

2. Walk to Isola Bella (it means beautiful island in Italian)
The guy who sells you the ticket to walk around the island is going to make you feel like you have a special discount by saying, “for you, tickets are two euro.” Then you’re going to realize that the sign that clearly states that the price for everyone is two euros (oh, those Italian men).
While you’re there, break the rules a little and climb over the sectioned off rope to explore the parts of the island that are “forbidden” to tourists. (:

3. See the Greek theater

4. Meet new friends and make a wine cooler with rocks on the beach
SIDE-NOTE: They say “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and I think that saying should stand for anywhere you go while travelling.  So, if you feel the desire to lay out topless on a European beach – go for it. I won’t judge and it’s actually quite freeing… Plus, you won’t have to worry about tan-lines (;

5. Stay at Hostel Taormina!
The staff was super nice and helpful and told you where to get discounts in town! Plus, look at the view from the terrace!

One last thing! I didn’t get a chance to visit the Turrisi Bar while I was there, but if someone could check it out and let me know what this “famous penis collection” is about, I’d appreciate further clarification, thanks!

And I Did It All in Heels

In one month I traveled around Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Spain. I saw brand new places had some of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned more than I had ever anticipated on this trip.

Beautiful seasides, Greek temples, cathedrals, art and culture, pizza and cannollis, are all fantastic but the best experiences I had were thanks to the many people I met along the way. Whether it was someone in my hostel, a stranger attempting to help me when they didn’t speak any English, locals who invited me to sit with them at dinner when they saw me eating solo, or an entertaining tour guide. Above all what made my trip unique were the people I met in this past month. People from all over the globe that even if I never see them again I hope I never forget them and their stories.

Before I left my friends asked me if I was scared or nervous. At the time I was too busy finishing up college to let it register but I honestly thought it would hit me once I was on my own and I would be scared. Although I had my moments where I was scared (cough cough Palermo) for the most part I was so busy enjoying every ounce of my experience that I didn’t have time to worry. Like someone in my last hostel said, “just because you’re alone it doesn’t make you lonely.”

Cinque Terre and Chianti

During my week in between part one and two of my trip I stayed in Florence with my family. Even though I’ve been to Florence a half-dozen times I still was able to have two fun and new experiences.



The first of my new experiences was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre literally means five lands. Five villages along the Italian Riviera all border one another and are connected by hiking trails, trains and ferry boats.

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A friend and I decided to do two hour long “intense” hike to the very last beach. We saw some of the best views of the coast and the towns and had a great workout.

Cinque Terre is known for their local white wine and their pesto so before we left we were sure to stop in at wine bar and have some wine and crostini with pesto.

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A couple days later, once Marisa and Scott arrived, the three of us with my mom went to Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti for a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting. In addition to plenty of wine, we each had a huge plate full of cheese, prosciutto, salami and other yummy things! So delish!

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Love,
Liv

Things I Wish I Packed

For the most part I think I packed pretty well. This is definitely the lightest I’ve ever traveled anywhere for any amount of time (just one backpack for a whole month!) there have been a few things that I wish I had packed.. but at least I’ll remember them for next time.

Here they are:

  1. External drive. I’m glad I didn’t pack my whole computer. I’m in Europe and I didn’t come here to spend my time on the computer. Plus relying on my smartphone and paying for time at internet cafe’s really limits my time on the internet which is good when there is so much to see and do in a new city. However, I do wish I brought my external drive. I’ve been keeping all my files, reservations and guides on my dropbox account which has been great but it would be nice to have something that doesn’t require internet access to get to my documents! Plus, the major reason it would be beneficial to have packed an external drive is that I’ve already filled up the memory card on my DSLR. I’ve been using dropbox again to store images but like I said, I’d feel more comfortable if I had somewhere off the internet to keep them safe!
  2. Towel. Just a small to medium size one so I wouldn’t have to pay one to three euros at every hostel to rent one. The last hostel made me buy one actually for five euros which I found annoying. The towel actually is pretty good for what I need though its small enough to be packed easily and big enough for showers/beach/etc. I’m just pretty sure I could’ve found a similar one for less in the States.
  3. Nyquil/Dayquil. The pill kind. Didn’t pack any because I decided I wasn’t going to get sick and I wanted to save space. That was dumb because they hardly take any space and I did get sick! Thank goodness for the sweet friend I made in Taormina who gave me a couple days worth of both Nyquil and Dayquil!
  4. An art tube. Since I was about 12 I started collecting paintings from street artists in different places I visited (my first one I bought in one of an old ghetto in Prague). I’ve already bought two paintings and tomorrow I’m going to the studio of an artist that I bought from four years ago in Florence. He said he’d give me a REALLY good discount since I’m a returning customer and his paintings are definitely my favorite ones that I’ve collected.
  5. Tevas or Chacos. Or whatever those hippy shoe are. I swore I’d never get a pair but honestly, I wish I had for this trip! I’ve done so much walking and the shoes I brought aren’t as comfortable as I thought they were.

Just a couple little things that would make this trip easier!

Love,
Liv


Milan and Venice

After travelling to Milan in Venice I am now back in Florence for a few days catching up with my family, relaxing and planning part two of my trip (which I’m currently planning will consist of Croatia and Madrid)!

Of all the places I’ve been to in Italy, Milan might be my favorite. People have always told me that Milan was the New York of Italy. Yes, Milan is a very modern city and is where the majority of businesses are and the fashion capital of the country but the over all atmosphere to me was very different than New York.
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I’ve never visited anywhere where I thought I could live there comfortably for my whole life. There are places where I could see myself starting off or others where I could see myself settling down but they rarely were the same place. In Milan I felt I could live there my entire life and never have the desire to live anywhere else!

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If I could describe a perfect day for me it would consist of everything I did during my three days/two nights. Street markets, fabulous museums, beautiful city parks. Being surrounded by art and culture in a beautiful setting truly is where I feel like my best self. I went to the Brera Picture Gallery, the Leonardo da Vinci museum of Science and Technology and hiked to the top of their duomo. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to see da Vinci’s last summer and a couple other museums but at least I have that reason to come back! I was sad to leave Milan because it just felt like I belonged there!

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Next was Venice and for some reason even though I enjoyed everything I saw and did I just did not like the city. Maybe it was because everything was so ridiculously overpriced and I had to spend 20 extra euros in the process of doing anything. It was frustrating. I just started sneaking into the water buses without buying tickets in order to save money.

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I still had fun though! I went to the Academia and the Peggy Guggenhiem gallery of modern art which was amazing. I then found out my favorite photographer since I was 16, Elliott Erwitt, had a gallery show right next to my hostel so I went to that as well.

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In order to get away from all ticky tacky touristy things inside of Venice I snuck on a couple of water buses and made my way to Burano (not Murano). This was a really part of the city about 30 minutes away from the center. I had lunch and took some really great photographs which I’ll half to upload when I get back! I really recommend anyone in Venice heading over there!

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Like I said, I’m back in Florence now with my family. Today my parents and I took a daytrip to Lucca where we bikes the old city walls. We also visited a church that held a tomb of a young bride who married some important guy a long time ago. I read in one of the tour books that the young girls of the town use to rub the nose of the statue on it for good luck in finding love and a sweet boyfriend. Since Lord knows I need all the luck I can get in that department I paid the extra two euros to go see her tomb. When I got there though there were bars blocking people from getting too close. But that didn’t stop me, no siree. I waited until no one was around, ducked under and rubbed her nose! Success! So basically, Mr. Right should be walking into my life any minute now!

Tomorrow I’m getting up early to catch a bus and make a daytrip to the seaside towns in Cinque Terre! There will be lots of hiking and hopefully some laying out involved!

Love,
Liv