On the Road: Bergamo, Milan and Lake Como

Spontaneity defined the Milan trip from March 9th to March 12th.

Kate, Annabelle, Casey and I casually were sitting around drinking tea a few days prior. Before any of us really had time to think about it – we all booked a Ryanair flight to Milan for my birthday weekend. We stumbled across cheap tickets, and from there no real discussion happened – we were heading to Milan!

After a miraculous morning of disheaveled hair and chaotic packing following a big birthday night out we managed to make our early flight. Our flight landed about two hours later in the small town of Bergamo outside of Milan. The University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business has a summer program located in Bergamo, so I convinced the group to head into town for lunch and delay departing for Milan.

Be it curiousness about the TCoB Study Abroad Program, or a selfish ploy to remove myself from transportation while my headache pounded – it turned out to be a great excursion.

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The Color Palate of Bergamo – a mixture of fading reds, blues, greens and tans. Italy decays beautifully, and Bergamo is wealthy with rustic Italian charm.

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See more photos of Bergamo

On the plane we met a fellow Maastricht University student from Switzerland. She joined us for a pizza feast outside in Bergamo and city exploring. Highlights of the afternoon included an Italian man asking Kate out and her awkwardly giggling the entire time. Also, I thought I had found the tourist information office but instead had barged into a private office with my maps out. Intense fits of laughter dotted conversation our entire afternoon in Bergamo – it was going to be a great trip!

Arriving in Milan we made our way past the Duomo and eventually (somehow) found the apartment we were renting. The apartment split between four people was cheaper than the hostel and had a better location near Bacconi University and the Navigli District. We had two king size beds, a full kitchen, a television, bathroom and it was charming! The company we rented from is B&B Hotels Milan – highly recommend for groups of 4 or larger!

That night we enjoyed a real Italian Aperitivo.

The concept is to drink to whet your appetite – a testament to the value Italians place of enjoying their meals. We settled on an Aperitivo place near a canal that had a Mayan theme and then poured over the extensive drink menu. We each ordered a fancy cocktail, and shamelessly yelled CHEERS! as we clinked our glasses and started the night.


Aperitivo works like this – you purchase a drink and then you eat from a buffet for free. The buffet included lots of seafood and pastas – we filled our plates and kept going back. Long after our drinks were empty we continued to snack from the buffet table. Aperitivo is meant to take hours, and our waiter kept encouraging us to get more food and never once rushed our dining experience. The night concluded with a dramatic presentation of a giant tiramisu cake – which of course we all enjoyed.

We set out early on day two determined to get some sightseeing in before lunchtime.

We made it one block before spotting an endearing cafe and reaching the mutual agreement to live La Dolce Vida – we stopped for coffee at Cafe Saint George. After friending the waiter and admiring the well-dressed Italian women pass by, we started throwing around the idea of saving sightseeing for the following day and instead heading to Lake Como to spend our Sunday.

Thirty minutes later, we were sitting on the train en route to Lake Como. The day was beautiful, we could not have made a better decision!

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After all the dreary gray weather that dictates winter in Maastricht – Lake Como was a breathe of fresh air. Here’s a token photo for you, Mom!

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We enjoyed a perfect lunch outside by the Lake. For the first time during the trip we had moments of silence between the four of us. It was the most content of silences, as we all could do nothing but smile and enjoy our surroundings.

After lunch we caught a gondola up the mountains. Hello, Switzerland!

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New friends in Lake Como


To conclude our perfect day in Lake Como, we bought deserts at a bakery in Milan and headed to Colonne di San Lorenzo to enjoy wine and deserts. My friends from Bacconi University informed us that this is where most Italian students start their night and mingle outside. Sure enough, we made some new friends and enjoyed plenty of laughs over great food and cheap wine!

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Luca, an Italian student, was easily our favorite person we met at El Colonne. Usually, the ability to understand and communicate with humor is a strong indicator of a high language ability. For Luca, he learned all his English from watching Youtube videos. Speaking basic conversational English? Luca struggled. Telling complex jokes and perfectly delivering punchlines? Luca was perfection. It was a hysterical time communicating via solely jokes with Luca. He even rapped for us! Which was actually just a string of English profanities to a bizarre melody.

Camilla, my good friend in Maastricht from Milan, recommended about a million and one things for us to do in Milan. She gave enough restaurant recommendations to last a month – she was so enthusiastic to have friends visit her hometown! Another one of my friends, Gabriele, let his friend Bruno know that my friends and I were in town. I called up Bruno and we made breakfast plans for the following morning. Annabelle also had a friend from Australia doing exchange at Bacconi, so our group grew from 4 people to seven people at breakfast.

Bruno and his friend got right down to business planning out our day for us. They generously offered to show us around Italy – we were ecstatic to have Italian guides! They rushed us from breakfast to the most high-fashion shopping districts in Milan. We strolled through all the major designer stores and took turns gaffing at price tags.

Camilla DEMANDED that we try Luini before leaving Milan – and I now understand her seriousness regarding this recommendation. Deliziosa! Basically it was a pizza filled roll with some magic involved because it was unnatural how much we all enjoyed this lunch.

Sitting outside in the sun while we dined only added to the enjoyment!


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Across the street from Luini is Cioccolati Italiani Рa must visit for the BEST gelato any of us have ever tried.

Our group headed back to El Colonne and tossed around a frisbee, then did some more sight-seeing including the Duomo.

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That night we cooked spaghetti with fresh Italian ingredients – Bruno and some friends joined us. The following weekend, Bruno visited Gabriele in Maastricht. Annie and I hosted a giant Vientamese cold rolls dinner to thank Bruno for his fantastic tour of Milan, and Gabriele for sharing his friends with us.

Evviva to sunny days, exciting cities and new friends!

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part I, Recommendations, Uncategorized

4 Responses to On the Road: Bergamo, Milan and Lake Como

  1. Mom

    A 21st birthday to surely remember!

  2. Larry Payne

    Sounds like the food and beverage has an advantage over Leopold.

  3. grandmother

    Reagan, I’m so impressed with you remembering the names of the places you visit and spelling them correct ally! Traveling with an open mind and creative inspiration with friends is special! What fun! Love, Grandmother

  4. Aunt Susan

    Now you understand why I am trying convince your Uncle Pete that we must retire and live the rest of our days in Italy – pizza, vino, gelato… what could be better!
    Ciao, bella!

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