Favourites in Milan, Italy

It has been a while since i went to Milan: I visited the famous city in November last year. I went there for a long week end on my own, and even though I didn’t like it by far as much as Rome, I still enjoyed my stay there. I think that if I had been more into fashion, it would have been a more interesting stay, but fashion really isn’t my thing…

Travelling as a vegan is always interesting, as it’s hard to know whether you’re able to get nice, vegan food or not. However, Milan wasn’t a problem at all, as there were several vegan places to eat, and some of the Italian dishes are vegan by default. Here are my favourite places to eat out in Milan:

Mantra Raw Vegan
Address: Via Panfilo Castaldi 21

I found the restaurant Mantra Raw Vegan pretty much by coincidence. I had planned to go back to the hotel, and wanted to look up the quickest way to get there on Google maps. The restaurant’s name popped up, and I decided it was a place i would love to try.

The Italians tend to eat dinner by far earlier than us Norwegians, so when I got there, there was no dinner service until 19. I didn’t feel too bad, though, as I had had a big lunch. I went for a matcha latte made with almond milk, and a so called “nice cream” they had named Ciot Cream. I went for the chocolate one, and it was super yummy. The matcha latte was very nice too.

Though the restaurant is fairly expensive, even for a Norwegain, it really is very good, so definitively worth a visit!

matcha latte
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Ciot Cream
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Universo Vegano
Address: Via Solferino 41

My very first meeting with Universo Vegano, was when i visited Rome in August 2016. This is an Italian chain of vegan restaurants, and I have never been disappointed by their food. This time around, I had a mushroom lasagna, and i’m not lying when I say that it’s probably the best lasagna I’ve ever had! It was very good! I also had a cake for dessert, but this time around, the lasagna was the true star.

Mushroom lasagne
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2017

Though I visited other places for food that were good, like Flower Burger (where i had a chickpea burger with vegan cheese called Cheesy Cecio), these two were my absolute favourites. I think i would have liked Flower Burger more if it had decent seating, though it’s more of a take away place than anything else. The burgers are good, though.

Have you ever been to Milan? Do you have any favourite places to eat out?

Rome 2016: Thursday 

I realised I never got around to blog about my last full day in Rome. The Friday was spent travelling, and was fairly uneventful, so I will not be blogging about that day, but on the Thursday I went to what’s called “Ancient Rome”, which is worth a visit if you visit Rome.

I went up to Colosseum by public transport, as I had bought a 24 hour travel card (very handy, can be used for trams, busses, and the underground). I was amazed by the huge queue outside both Colosseum and Forum Romanum, but didn’t really care too much, as there’s a lot to look at in the area. You can even see quite a large part of Forum Romanum without going inside!

Colosseum is quite impressive to look at from the outside. This round amphitheatre was built of concrete and sand in 70–80 AD, and it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and other public spectacles, and is estimated to have been able to hold up to 80 000 spectators!

The Colosseum, with a tree in front of it.
The Colosseum.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

Right by Colosseum is Forum Romanum, a rectangular forum, or plaza, surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city. For cenuries this was the centre of the public life in Rome, and this was where statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great men.

Forum Romanum: Many old ruins.
Forum Romanum.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

There’s a lot to look at in the area around the Colosseum and Forum Romanum, so walking around looking at so much history was something I really enjoyed. And it took most of my day.

I had dinner close to the hotel, and did a bit of walking around before I headed back to pack my things and get ready for travelling the next day.

Rome 2016: Wednesday

I had a soft start of my day this day, and my first “task” was sitting outside at a café drinking espresso and writing postcards. The temperature was around +30°C, which felt beyond wonderful knowing that at home it was about +10°C and probably raining… Sitting outside in the shadow with coffee and postcards felt perfect!

A table with postcards, a cup of coffee, and on top of the postcards there's a Norwegian - Italian, Italian - Norwegian dictionary.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

When I was done writing postcards it had gotten several hours since my breakfast consisting of fruits (the hotel isn’t good at vegan stuff), and I went to Universo Vegano for a lovely and filling lunch. I had a Veghina Incas (wrap with quiona falafel, lettuce, vegan mayonnaise, tomatoes, and vegan cheese), and a vegan raspberry cheese cake for dessert. The meal kept me full for HOURS! Probably the best meal I’ve had in Rome so far!

Well fed, I went off to hunt down a post office. The first one I went to turned out to be closed. To my surprise, it closed by 13:25 – a very odd time in so many ways. So I had to figure where the next close post office was, which fortunately wasn’t too far away. It turned out this was close to the Spanish Steps, so I went there to have a look. The steps themselves were closed off for rehabilitation, so I wasn’t able to climb all the 135 steps this time. They were still beautiful, though, and the piazza with the nice fountain at the bottom was, needless to say, crowded with people.

The steps were finished being built in 1725, and were disigned by Francesco de Sanctis. The fountain the bottom of the steps is called Fontana della Barcaccia, which means “Fountain of the Ugly Boat”. I find this a bit silly, as it’s not ugly at all!

The Spanish Steps.
The Spanish Steps.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

After looking at the steps, I headed back to the hotel where I read until it was time for me to have dinner. I had dinner at the raw vegan restaurant Écru, and had a nice meal there, before heading back to the hotel for an early night.

Rome 2016: Tuesday

I set out after breakfast to visit the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is only a 15 minutes walk from my hotel. I was fortunately early enough to avoid the huge queue I saw on my way out, and after a bit of queueing I was inside.

Castel Sant'Angelo Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Castel Sant’Angelo
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

Castel Sant’Angelo, or the Mausoleum of Hadrian, dates back to 139 AD, and is the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Hadrian is known for building Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern limit of Britannia, and was a Roman emperor from 117 to 138 AD. Much of the tomb contents and decorations have been lost since the building’s conversion to a military fortress in 401, and at the beginning of the 14th century the popes converted the structure into a castle, and the Papal state also used it as a prison. The Castel Sant’Angelo was made into a museum in 1901.

Here are some of the photos I took inside the Castel Sant’Angelo:

A statue of an angle with what looks a bit like mechanical iron wings. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Inside Castel Sant'Angelo. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Arches from the walls, covered in green plants. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

A hallway leading to some stairs. The walls are beautifully painted with pictures.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

After visiting the castle, I headed for lunch, and had what probably was the most expensive roasted potatoes I’ve ever had, and then back to the hotel. I spent most of the afternoon in the rooftop garden, reading my book, which was very nice and relaxing.

In the evening I met up with a couple of bookcrossers for dinner, which was nice. They were an italian lady, and an American lady that have been living in Italy for the last 30 years. It was a fun evening, and I got back to the hotel fairly late (for me).

Rome 2016: Monday

After all the walking around on Sunday, I decided that my Monday was going to be more quiet and relaxing. I started the day with reading in my room (I had a book I wanted to finish) before heading outside. I was mostly strolling around, and ended up at the Piazza Navona, which was actually quite nice with its fountains.

Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, in the first century AD. The Stadium was mainly used for athletic contests, and was a gift to the people of Rome from the Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus.

One of the most dominent builtings at the piazza is the Sant’Agnese in Agone, a 17th-century Baroque church. There are three fountains in the piazza: Fontana del Moro at the southern end, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi at the centre, and Fontana del Nettuno at the northern end. Of these three, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the Fountain of Four Rivers, is probably the most famous one.

From Piazza Navona I continued my stroll, without any particular goal, and ended up at a shopping centre, Galleria Alberto Sordi, where you find the bookshop laFeltrinelli Libri e Musica. The bookshop is probably he largest shop in the centre, though I must admit I didn’t really go into any of the other shops. This bookshop even has books in English, as well as a few in german, Spannish, and French.

After browsing (and not buying any!) books, I headed back to the hotel, where I got a coffee, which I brought up to the rooftop garden, where I sat in the shadow and read for a while. I then went back to the room “too cool down” and do some more reading.

The afternoon was then spent on an nearby restaurant, where I first ordered sparkling water and an espresso in Italian (go me!) and sat and read for a while before ordering dinner. When my dinner was consumed, I headed back to the hotel, and had an early night.

The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in front of Sant'Agnese in Agone. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in front of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

Rome 2016: Sunday

My main plan for this day was to visit the Pantheon, which is maybe 10-15 minutes of walking from my hotel. On my way I stopped to look at things, like the fountains I passed, some streetart, and so on. When I arrived at the Pantheon it turned out to be closed for tourists, as they were performing a Catholic service. I then decided to walk to see if I could find a café to sit down and read at.

Before I found a café, I found a gelateria. The gelaterias are something Italy is famous for: ice cream shops. I ended up buying a kiwi sorbet, which was very nice indeed. After consuming my sorbet, I eventually found a restaurant that served coffee, and I sat down, had an espresso and read.

After a while it was time to head back to the Pantheon, and after a bit of queueing, I was inside. “Pantheon” basically means “the temple of all gods”, but today it’s pretty much a Christian church (which I can’t help feeling a bit sad about). The building is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome, and inside it’s circular. It’s very beautiful, and worth a visit if you’re in Rome.

Inside the Pantheon. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
Inside the Pantheon.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

Since the famous Trevi Fountain isn’t very far from the Pantheon, I headed there when I was done at the Patheon. This magnificent fountain was designed by the Italian architect Nicola Salvi, and is 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide. The work on the fountain was started in 1732, but the architect Salvi died in 1751, before it was completed. When he died, the work was only half finished, so it was completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762.

The Trevi Fountain. Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016
The Trevi Fountain.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016

Watching the fountain was a hot affair, so I decided to head back to the hotel to cool off. Having relaxed for a bit, I walked around a bit in the neighbourhood. The hotel is close to the river, so I walked along that, among other things.

Eventually it was time for dinner, and I decided to have a pizza marinara (pizza with just tomato sauce, and no cheese) and a beer at a restaurant not far from the hotel. I ended sitting there with my book for a good while, before doing a bit more walking around.

All the walking around actually made me quite tired, so I ended up creeping under my duvet and read, before I fell asleep and had an early night.

Travelling to Rome

I left home at 11 yesterday, and headed to to airport. The travel from home to the airport of Rome wasn’t very eventfull. I had access to the SAS lounge at Oslo airport, so I had lunch there. I was fortunate enough to get plenty of sparkling water, vegan carrot and coriander soup (very tasty), and was able to relax before my last flight.

The flight from Oslo to Rome went well. A bit of turbulence at times, but not horrible. And after a bit I was able to have the whole three seats in my row by myself, as the row in front was empty, and the other two passengers moved there. Win-win!

I spent my flight mainly reading and looking out the window. Flying over the the Alps was quite spectacular, but it was also nice to see all the fields and cities. However, as said, most of the time was spent with my nose in my book.

Getting from the airport to the hotel was somthing I had expected to take maybe an hour. Boy, was I wrong! First I had to find the train station, which I first didn’t know where was. When I finally found it (after a lot of walking around), I needed a ticket. The lady behind the counter could have used a smiling course, she was really sour and seemed annoyed I didn’t knew Italian. Dear Italians, Italians isn’t a world language. English is. But I finally got a ticket, hurried to the platform, and the train just left as I tried to press the button on the door! Accurding to the website, another train were to leave shortly after. Not so. I had to wait for almost an hour, and when the train finally left, it was delayed.

I had to change to a tram after a while, which was actually surprisingly easy. However, the tram seemed very old, and there were absolutely no announcements. I ended up taking the tram too far, having to turn around and go back to the correct stop. At least I finally got off the right stop, then headed in the direction of the hotel. Yet again, I went too far, and got lost, but a very helful young man working at a restaurant managed to point me in the right direction, and after a while I finally managed to find my hotel.

Checking in went smoothly, and the guy at the desk was very helpful. My small single room wasn’t as nice as I had expected from a four star hotel (I should have known, it was very cheap). But the bathroom was nice, which was a huge plus, and clean. And the room is airconditioned.

I didn’t go out for dinner, as I was just too tired. I picked up a bottle of fizzy water, as I was thirsty after all the ordeal of getting to the hotel (it took me over three hours after we landed!) But I crept into bed, and it didn’t take too long before I fell asleep…

The Alps seen from above, covered by a few clouds.
The Alps.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2016