Tirano to Milano – a long day on trains

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When you decided to train your way from Zurich to Sicily, you know its going to take some time and you’ll spend a lot of time on trains, but this day was rough.

We were only 4 days into our trip and already on our 3rd country.  Plus we’d just spent 4 hours on the Bernina Express, so we’d been sitting for half the day.  Which is why we decided to break up the day by spending two hours wandering around Tirano.

The Bernina Express ends in Tirano and you can race across the town square and buy tickets for the regional train to Milan that leaves in 20 minutes.  Or you can wait it out.  We recommend a wait.  Tirano is a lovely town, with loads of restaurants and some beautiful churches and scenery.  Why rush to sit on a train for another 3 hours?

We wandered away from the square surrounding the two train stations, because all the menus were geared toward tourists, and only 2 blocks away found Lo Scrocchiaro for some pizza and wine!

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Back in my happy place

Once fueled up, we walked the main street toward the cathedral we had passed coming in on the train Santuario della Madonna di Tirano.

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This town was a serious feast for our eyes.

After wandering around the church and back to the main square, I grabbed a couple beers for the next long train ride and we settled into our regional train for the journey to Milan.  Its just under 3 hours if the train is running on time… which didn’t happen.  It took us over 3 hours.  But the scenery was gorgeous.

After passing through farmers fields the train suddenly turns along the Lake Como coastline. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to find George Clooney 😉

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George? Where you at?

We finally arrived in Milan, just in time to stand in line again at a Tim Mobile store to get our Italian sim card.  It was another painful 30 minutes before I got out of there, but listen, if you plan on using your mobile phone abroad, I would hiiiighly recommend getting a local sim.  And here’s my “travel hack” –  I bring my old iphone and insert the foreign sim into it, essentially turning it into a wifi hot spot I can carry around.  That way my current phone still has all my phone numbers stored, my friends and family can reach me while I’m abroad, but I can still connect to the internet (and google maps!) without racking up “roam like home” charges.  Plus, the phone plans in Europe are so much better than our Canadian ones.

For 32E I received a plan good for 30 days, unlimited local calling – that’s every country in the EU, not just Italy – and an insane amount of data, like so huge I cannot remember it because I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  And you can roam in other EU countries with these plans, so my phone worked in Malta and France by the end of the trip.

We used the data on that Italian sim constantly for the remaining 3 weeks of our trip, and we didn’t run out.

Anyways, back to Milan!

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How gorgeous is the Milan train station?!

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It was a brief walk from the beautiful art deco train station to the incredibly chaotic checkin at our hotel.  We stayed at the Hotel ibis Milano Central, as Milan was just a brief stopover for us.  We got a reasonable price and the hotel was clean.  And that’s about all of the positives I’ve got.

Dumped our bags, took showers, and took off to see the sights and EAT. MORE. PIZZA!

This post is getting long, but here’s another story for you.  I’ve been instagram stalking a pizza restaurateur, Gino Sorbillo, for years.  Constantly cursing that for all my trips to Italy (this is #4) I’ve never made it Naples to do a pizza pilgrimage.  Well reader, he has not one, but two!! pizza restaurants in Milan.  So we went to the one right off the Duomo.  And it was as religious of an experience as you can have as an atheist pizza enthusiast.  The pizza was perfect, my spritz was perfect, the waiters were so lovely.  I had the best time, and cannot wait to go try his OG location in Naples… one day… siiiiigh.

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In actual heaven

Still fighting the jetlag we did a quick zoom by the Duomo and then wandered back to the hotel to pass the F out.

 

EuropeanFive0

My lovely, wonderful Shawn turned 50 this October so we (ok me) decided what better way to celebrate than to tour around Europe for 3 weeks. You know, cause I need a reason to visit…

We hashtagged the entire trip on Instagram with #europeanfive0 so feel free to catch up there as well as the accompanying posts.

We covered a fair amount of ground and I answered a lot of questions I had before we left. So maybe this blog can help some other traveller out?

Or it’ll be an everlasting testament to our best 3 week holiday.

This is our itinerary:

Paris – 1 day

Zurich and Chur – 1 day

Tirano and Milan – 1 day

Rome – 1.5 days

Sicily – 4 days

Malta – 10 days

Our goal was to fly into Paris and then train all the way to Sicily, ferry to Malta and then fly Malta-Paris-Home.

We ended up flying Paris to Zurich as the flight was substantially cheaper than the train. We also flew from Catania, Sicily to Malta as the ferries get cancelled if the waves are more than around 6 ft and we didn’t want to take that chance. Turns out we could have ferried as the weather was perfect the day we were to leave, but Ryan Air was really cheap and surprisingly on time.