Amalfi Coast

One of the places that I was most excited to see in Italy was the Amalfi Coast region, a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy, also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. For our trip, my family based ourselves in Sorrento and did day trips to Pompeii, Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello throughout the week.


This region tends to get really hot in the summer; conveniently, around every corner in Sorrento is also a gelato shop. A great one to try is Gelateria Primavera, with over 50 unique flavours to choose from.


The days seemed longer in Southern Italy (in a good way), with the sun fully setting at around 22:00. A good spot to watch the sunset is at the terrace cliff viewpoint in Sant’Angelo, since it offers a spectacular view over the coast and doesn’t get too crowded.


There’s also a small restaurant there, good for dessert.


The first day trip we did from Sorrento was to Pompeii, an ancient Roman town that was mostly destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. This eruption destroyed the city, killing all its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash.


The site was lost for about 1,500 years, but rediscovered in 1599. Since then, Pompeii has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts over 2.5 million visitors each year.


It’s easy taking day trips from Sorrento, and the trip to Pompeii cost less than 3 euros one-way by local train. However, getting to other regions like Amalfi and Ravello are a bit trickier since the local train doesn’t run there. Alternatives include taking the bus, renting a car, or joining a tour. We opted for a semi-private tour in a van that took us to Amalfi, Positano and Ravello in one day.

All around the Amalfi Coast are lemons – really, really big lemons – and tons of products made with this citrus fruit. Definitely try freshly squeezed lemonade and lemon sorbet when around this area.


Positano was one of my favourite destinations, often referred to as the vertical city, as from afar, it seems as though its buildings are built directly on top of one another.


Amalfi was also gorgeous, and its beaches were very ideal for swimming to cool off from the heat.


I’m really glad I got the chance to explore Southern Italy – it was very different than the norther part the country where I had spent the prior four months.


Pizza in Naples

This post is titled Pizza in Naples because that is more often than not the only reason people go to Naples. In particular, one restaurant that many visitors frequent in Naples is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, said to be home of the original Italian pizza.


The menu at this joint is simple. There are two options: Margarita (tomato sauce, cheese, and basil) or Marinara (tomato sauce, garlic, herbs). We ordered a large pie of each to share among three people.


The pizza here was without a doubt one of the best things that I had eaten in Europe. I initially thought that I would like the Margarita more because it had cheese, but in the end, I enjoyed both of them equally as much. While the cheese on the Margarita was deliciously milky and almost sweet, the dough became very soft and a little soggy due to the milkiness of the cheese. The base of the Marinara was a lot firmer, and the garlic and herbs along with the fresh tomato sauce was heavenly. I would definitely suggest trying both since they are both delicious, but in different ways.


If you do decide to sit-in at this restaurant, be prepared to wait for about an hour. The good thing is that the restaurant will give you a number and an estimated wait time, so you can leave to walk around town. Takeaway pizza is also a popular option here.


In the end, it was a unanimous agreement among the three of us that the pizza at Da Michele was worth the pit stop in Naples.

Second Time’s the Charm (Rome)

It’s been said that throwing a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain will ensure your return to Rome one day in the future. I tossed a coin that way during my first time in Rome last February – and lone behold, I revisited Rome this June. (I’m kidding, I don’t really believe in myths. Rome just happened to be the most convenient city for my parents and I to meet up in Europe). Although for the record, the municipality of Rome collects the coins from the Trevi fountain every day to fund a supermarket for the poor with the help of Italy’s Red Cross charity, so toss your change in!

Rome in the summer was very different from my last visit during the winter. It was even more beautiful that I had remembered, now that fragrant flowers had blossomed throughout the city and restaurants had opened their patio seating. The summer market by the river Tiber had also officially opened; it was really nice to walk around in the evening and share a pitcher of sangria by the water.


On our first evening in Rome, I treated my parents to a late-mother’s-day-and-early-father’s-day dinner at Il Fungo, a restaurant at the top of a fungi-shaped tower. From our spot, we were able to enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of all of Rome.


We ordered an 8-course menu, and the food certainly did not disappoint.


My favourite was the fusilli pasta with a rich pistachio pesto sauce, topped with some fresh pieces of raw tuna.

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I would definitely recommend this spot if celebrating a special occasion.

On our second day, we had planned to take the train to Tivoli (about an hour away by local transit from the main train station in Rome) – but it just so happened that public transit was going on strike that day. We decided then to visit the Villa Borghese Gardens instead, a spot close to our Airbnb and that our host had recommended to us.


Borghese turned out to be one of the most beautiful gardens I had seen in Europe, with an excellent viewpoint of one of the main squares in the city. I recommend renting a pedal bike, since it’s much faster (and more fun) than walking.

Another thing I love about summer in Italy is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables; we bought some goods from Mercati d’Autore to cook at our Airbnb. In fact, we cooked a lot during our time in Rome because the vegetables and seafood at the market were very fresh and inexpensive.


A great spot I’d recommend for breakfast or mid-afternoon snack in Rome is Faro – Luminaries of Coffee; they have amazing stuffed croissants (pistachio, almond, chocolate) and cappuchino.


To be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy Rome as much the second time around since I thought I had already “seen everything” but the city turned out to be a lot larger than I remembered, and very different in the summer.


Ciao Rome, it’s been amazing.


FAQ about Exchange

I’ve been getting some questions about studying abroad, so thought it would be good to share my answers for some of the more commonly asked ones here!

I’m a business student from Canada, who is currently on exchange in Milan for my last semester of undergrad. My semester abroad started early February and finishes end of May.



What mode of transportation do you usually use to travel?
I’ve mostly traveled by flight, simply because many cities are too far to travel by train or bus. When looking to visit cities that are closer to Milan, I research price comparisons between train, bus, and airplane. For instance, it was surprisingly cheaper for me to fly to Rome than to take a train. The longest train ride I have taken was to Nice, which was just over four hours from Milan.

Which airline do you usually fly with?
I don’t have a preference; I always just fly with whichever airline is cheapest on Skyscanner (use an incognito tab and clear your cookies regularly). The winner for lowest airfare is usually Ryanair.

What backpack did you get for travel?
I got a 45L one from MEC.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve traveled to so far?
To be honest, this is such a hard question to answer because every city is so different that they almost seem incomparable. If I had to choose, overall, I would say that my favourites are Budapest and Amsterdam, because there is just so much to do and experience in these cities (and the food in both is amazing as well). However, the one city that I could definitely see myself living in the future is London, England. I loved the diversity of neighborhoods, the convenience of going around the city, the variety of food available and the food markets, the shopping, and the fact that I could easily communicate (in English).


Is studying abroad hard?
It certainly depends on the school that you pick, but I would say that my workload now is lighter than it was back at my home school.

Is your semester pass/fail?
Yes, although graduate programs do have the option to request for grades.

What kind of courses did you take?
I am taking five courses, which are all quite different from each other: Diversity Management and Policy, Management of Fashion Companies, Innovation and Competition in High-Tech, Psychology of Marketing, and Business Strategy. My favourite is Psychology of Marketing.

Did you join any school clubs?
I joined the Bocconi Students Food Association, and am a writer for their blog.


Is rent in Milan expensive?
The average rent in Milan is about 900 euros/month, which is also the monthly cost of residence at my school abroad. I opted not to go into residence, and rented an Airbnb with five other students from my home school. Although we paid very little (330 euros/month), we shared bedrooms and lived in a furnished basement of an apartment complex. Early-April, our landlord informed us that we had to move out for renovations. Finding comfortable housing for six people in Milan is quite difficult, so we split off into pairs. I now live in a nice 2-bedroom apartment that is much closer to school; I have my own room and pay 600 euros/month.

Do you eat out or cook more in Milan?
I tend to eat out when traveling in other cities, so I try to cook as much as possible when I am in Milan. My typical homecooked meals include pumpkin soup with spinach, baked cauliflower, proscuitto or spinach ravioli, and Nutella on bread with sliced bananas.

What do you typically do in Milan?
It’s nice to relax in one place during the week, so I tend to take it easy in Milan: go to class, go for a walk, cook and hang out at home. I also like exploring coffee shops around the city and trying different pastries (the best so far is from Pavè.) I also joined fellowship at a local church, where we go to one of the member’s houses once a week to chat and enjoy a nice homecooked meal.


May Favourites

I can’t believe it’s May already, meaning that it’s my last semester of exchange (and undergrad!!) My last exam is on the 30th and while I can’t wait for exams to be over, part of me is also sad that it’s ending – just as I’m finding the hidden gems around Boccconi University too.


On a brighter note, I’ve come across some pretty cool products and places this past month, and thought I’d share my favourite here:


  • Microfiber towels: Described as “ultra compact, super absorbent, and fast-drying,” these towels are ideal for traveling and take up minimal space in your backpack.
  • Ultralight sleeping bag liner: This sleeping bag is super light and thin. It’s not meant to provide warmth; rather, it acts as a clean liner so that you feel comfortable sleeping in any bed (no matter what your hostel may be rated).


  • Kiehl’s creamy eye treatment with avocado: Since exchange, I’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors; and I’ve realized that my skin (especially the eye area) can be quite sensitive towards the springtime weather changes. The area around my eyes began to get slightly itchy, red, and puffy as the weather got warmer in Italy. I went to Kiehl’s to get this cream, and could immediately see a difference after my first use. This product is creamy and moisturizing, and it contains vitamin A, avocado oil and fatty acids. I would definitely recommend it if you’ve been experiencing adverse skin changes towards the spring transition.
  • Lush’s honey lip scrub: Again, if you are experiencing drier than normal skin due to the spring time weather changes, this lip scrub is the way to go. It’s filled with hints of peppermint oil, which cools and freshens, as well as sweet wild orange oil, which provides a nice citrus taste. The best part is that it’s edible so you can happily lick the scrub off (or wipe it off, whichever you prefer).


  • Tiger (Flying Tiger Copenhagen): This is the place to go to pick up almost anything you may need on a daily basis (coffee mugs, notepads, washing bag, etc.) Prices are fairly low, ranging from one to three euros for most items. They also sell delicious snacks – try their Dutch stroopwafels and chocolate milk.
  • Bershka: This store is the perfect place to get some spring/summer attire at affordable prices, especially when compared to other European stores around the Duomo area in Milan. I would describe the style to be a more mature version of Forever 21, or a younger version of H&M.


  • Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs by David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano: This novel was a mandatory reading for one of my courses at school; I wasn’t particularly excited to read it at first (although comparatively more excited to read this one than the two other compulsory readings of actual textbooks), but I was quickly engrossed in the lessons inspired by the individual story of three of the world’s most successful businessmen. I would recommend it if you are interested in entrepreneurship, the technology space, or simply in learning more about the people and story behind some of the greatest products that we use on a daily basis. The narration isn’t technical but focused more on the actual story.


  • Ravioli di Zucca e Ricotta: I found this at my local supermarket and it’s incredible. I recommend it if you have a sweet tooth, since the pumpkin filling is sweet but contrasts well with its savory dough encasement. This ravioli doesn’t even require any sauce; it’s so good, I just top it with some sea salt to enhance the sweetness of the pumpkin filling. This is my socially acceptable way to practically have dessert for dinner.
  • Ricotta Spread: In Italy, the cheese aisle (yes, an entire block at the supermarket dedicated to cheese) is filled with an almost alarmingly large amount of different dairy products that I didn’t even know existed before. I recently purchased a tub of ricotta, softened to the point of being easily spreadable on toast, and it’s amazing – fluffy, soft, and mild in taste. It’s also super cheap – about 180 grams for 0.89 euros.
  • Venchi Gelato: I’ve heard really good things about this part-chocolate-part-gelato store, and I waited for the day I had to write two exams to treat myself as a celebratory reward. I got the waffle cone rimmed with hazelnut chocolate and candied hazelnut bits, a scoop of Brutto & Buenos (milk chocolate with chopped hazelnuts) as well as a scoop of cuor di cacao (75% extra-dark chocolate). The combination was unbelievable.


I didn’t expect it to be, but Florence ended up being one of my favourite Italian cities. I found it less touristy than Venice and Rome but still busy enough to feel lively yet safe at night. The first day, I climbed up the Piazzale Michelangelo, which gave a remarkable view of the entire city along the river.


This piazza was built in 1869, back when Florence was the capital of Italy and the whole city was involved in an urban renewal. The square is dedicated to the Renaissance sculptor, Michelangelo, as depicted by the monument in the center.

In Florence, I also climbed up GIotto’s Campanile, a free-standing campanile part of the complex of buildings that make up the Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo. This structure is 84.7 metres tall and comprises of over 400 steps to reach the top.


The Duomo in Florence is also the most colourful ones that I’ve seen in Europe yet.


One of the best restaurants I tried in Florence was the Proscuitteria, where my sister and I split a large charcuterie and cheese board with bread and white wine. The restaurant was tiny and to make the most of the space, there were wine glass holders and a bread basket holder above every table.


And of course, there is no shortage of good gelato in any Italian city… I even found an Amorino shop in Florence!



Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is made of five coastal villages along the rugged portion of the Italian Riviera: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These five villages, the coastline, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cinque Terre National Park. I joined a hiking tour to trek across the five coastal towns in one day.


Cinque Terre was unlike any other Italian region that I had been to. It was majestically bright and colourful, and carried a really cheerful and welcoming atmosphere. It was a scorching hot day, but the view was incredible and made the trek all the more worth it.


Each of the five towns was different and unique in their own way. Riomaggiore was my favourite of the five towns; the colourful buildings toppling down the hill was just such a beautiful sight, like nothing that I had ever seen before. There was also tons of fresh seafood and gelato to treat ourselves from the long hike!


Although I was exhausted by the time I got back, the hiking daytrip was amazing and the perfect way to check out Cinque Terre in a limited amount of time.


Tips for Traveling in Milan

Milan is the city capital of the Lombardy region in Italy, and the most populous metropolitan area in the country. After spending over two months here on exchange, I always get excited when people want to come visit and explore this beautiful city too. Here are some of my tips when traveling to Milan.



  • Duomo: I highly recommend checking out the Duomo in Milan and getting tickets to go up on the rooftop. The view is incredible, and the details on the roof of the cathedral are also amazing. Save money by taking the stairs rather than the lift, and save time by purchasing your ticket at the museum across the Duomo rather than waiting in the long line in front of the cathedral itself.
  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele: As one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, you will find many high-end brand name stores as well as fast fashion stores like H&M and Zara. My favourite stores around this area are Bershka, Pimkie, and Muji.
  • Sforza Castle: The Sforza Castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and remains one of the largest citadels in Europe. It’s really grand and a refreshing historical center in the busy metropolitan area of Milan.
  • Fondazione Prada Museum: This is my favourite museum in Milan; it focuses on contemporary art and culture, and showcases many powerful pieces speaking to relevant issues in today’s society. There is also a nice cafe inside the museum called Bar Luce that is designed by Wes Anderson.
  • Naviglo Grande: By this canal is the best spot to grab a drink or a pizza, and just relax for the perfect lazy afternoon. This area is liveliest in the evening.
  • Other interesting areas to check out are Brera, which is filled with hip restaurants and bars and especially lively at night, and Chinatown, which has the best Asian food you’ll find in the city if that’s what you’re craving.



  • Public Transportation: The metro system in Milan is quite efficient, and I can get just about anywhere solely through public transportation. If you are likely to take the metro or bus more than ten times during your visit, get the 10-pass for thirteen euros. Separate tickets cost 1.50 euros each. If you are going to be here for over a month, get a metro pass (students can purchase a 4-month pass for ~98 euros).
  • ​Airports: There are three airports in Milan: Linate (LIN), Malpensa (MXP), and Bergamo (BGY). It takes about an hour to get to each of these airports from the city center. However, you can get to Linate Airport by public transportation, but have to pay for a bus to get to Bergamo from the Central Railway Station (5 euros). For Malpensa, you can either take a bus (8 euros) or a train (13 euros) from the city center.



  • Aperitivo: This is the best deal on food you will find in Milan. Aperitivo is a cherished Italian pastime, a social pre-dinner drinking ritual, where you purchase a drink (ranges from seven to ten euros) and it comes with an all-you-can-eat feast of pasta, pizza, cheeses, meats etc. depending on where you go. There are tons of aperitivo restaurants by the Naviglo Grande, a lively area by the canal. Aperitivo usually starts around 18:00 and ends around 21:00.
  • Eataly: This beautiful three-story supermarket sells everything from fresh fruit to ready-to-eat pizza and fill-your-own wine bottles. Although pricier than most other grocery stores, it’s a great place to check out and grab a quick snack.
  • Gelato: There is gelato everywhere in Milan. My favourite remains Amorino, where you can select as many flavours as you want and get your gelato shaped as a rose. There’s a location at Naviglo Grande (perfect for dessert after aperitivo) as well as in the Brera region. Another delicious option is Cioccolati Italiani. Although priced steeper than other gelato shops, you will be presented with a decadent masterpiece of different scoops and toppings, as well as a cone filled with chocolate from the inside. Definitely worth a try.
  • A’vucciria is a takeaway shop that offers all kinds of different fried foods from panzerotti to freshly piped cannoli. It’s a great snack after the bar, convenient located around the Naviglo Grande region.
  • Vodka Risotto: Osteria Conchetta by the Navigli Grande makes the most amazing risotto, flambéd with vodka in a massive Parmesan wheel.
  • Nutella: You will find an absurd amount of chocolate hazelnut products around Milan. Although McDonald’s has a “Nutella burger” (don’t get it, highly underwhelming) and Mercato del Duomo has the Nutella muffin, the best Nutella products I’ve found are actually the stuffed croissants found in many cafes around the city. The locals know how to do it best.

All in all, Milan is a wonderful Italian city composed of many different neighborhoods, each with their own unique offering. Definitely a city worth the visit.


When in Rome

They say that the capital of Italy is like an open museum – everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by beautiful buildings and artifacts rich in culture and history. One of the most majestic pieces of the city is the Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, which is an oval amphitheatre and the largest one ever built.


The Trevi Fountain is also stunning, especially at night, when a lot of people gather around to make wishes and socialize with their friends. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. I got a takeaway fruit cocktail from this street vendor that had a huge line, and it tasted amazing.


Near the Trevi Fountain is this gelato place serving 150 different flavours (although the standard remains that a small gelato only comes with two different flavours). I got riso e nutella, and fior di latte. It was a tough call to just pick two.


A lot of people also gather by the Spanish steps at night, a 135-step staircase leading from the Piazza di Spagna at the base to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church, at the top. aThe Pantheon is also a popular spot for people to hang around in the evening. It’s a former Roman temple, and now a church.

When in Rome, go to Vatican city, a whole other country within the city within the country of Italy. Vatican City itself is about 44 hectares and is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. It is an ecclesiastical state ruled by the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins.


The Roman Forum is also not to be missed, a plaza of ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, which was originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum (or just Forum).I also found the food in Rome to be tastier (and cheaper) than that in Milan. Below is a bowl of fresh homemade pasta from Edy with broccolini, which was incredible.


Also try Pane e Salami, and get their specialty sandwich, which has fatty strips of porchetta, tuna cream, lettuce, and sundried tomato. It cost 5 euros and probably weighed about three pounds.


You can also find Aperitivo (or Happy Hour) in Rome, where it cost us 9 euros for a drink and buffet dinner.


And of course, there is no shortage of incredible gelato everywhere in the city (as well as a Magnum shop, where you can customize toppings).


Rome is such an incredible city so rich in culture and history – definitely worth the visit.


Lake Como

About an hour away by train from Milan lies the beautiful city of Como in Northern Italy (aka the perfect retirement spot, as proven by George Clooney and his vacation villa right by lake Como). From Como, it’s easy to take the ferry to different small towns bordering the lake. Our host recommended we go across the Lake to Cernobbio, a small city on the borderline of Switzerland. The ferry only cost five euros round-trip, and it was such a pleasant ride, allowing us to view all the colourful houses along the mountain side.


I love visiting cities off-season, because you get to avoid the large crowds of bustling tourists everywhere. In Cernobbio, we ate lunch on the patio outside; the weather was so nice that I felt as though it was summertime even though it was only February.

In the evening, back in Como, we were on the search for gelato although it didn’t seem as though this city had much night life (even for gelato)… But we walked along the harbour then towards the Life Electric, a monument dedicated to the physicist Alessandro Volta. There’s a long walkway leading up to this monument of a fountain, and it looked spectacular at night with its glowing lights. Its design illustrates the evolution of modern architecture that took place from the 1920s to modern days, with the emergence of rationalism.


The next day, we took the famous funicular to the village of Brunate in Lombardy, Italy. The view going up the mountain was amazing, and my ears popped from the speed and altitude of the ride.


The line first started operations in 1894, and is used by tourists and local residents alike. Below is the Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo, a parish church at Brunate’s square, dedicated to the patron Saint Andrew the Apostle.


Brunate was quite a peaceful walk and before we knew it, it was time to catch our train back to Milan. Before we left for our train, however, we made sure to get the gelato we missed out on last night!


Although we saw a lot of couples, I think Como is a beautiful and relaxing place for anyone (friends, families alike) to go for a weekend getaway.