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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

My goal of studying abroad in Europe was less about going to school and more about having experiences that I would remember for the rest of my life. Given this, I’ve tried to get out as much as I could to travel around other parts of Italy and Europe. This is my first travel diary of the amazing places I’ve been able to go to outside of Milan, Italy. 

Florence (Aug. 27)

A girl I had met only two hours earlier and I decided to go on a day trip together to Florence three days after I had gotten to Milan. It was very spur of the moment and we had no idea what we were going to do there, but were excited nonetheless.

After consulting a friend that had studied abroad in Florence, we had three goals for the day: go to the Uffizi Museum, eat pizza at Gusta Pizza, and visit Piazza Michelangelo. Despite being in Florence for more than 12 hours, only two of those goals were completed since Gusta Pizza was closed for the summer holiday. 

The Uffizi Museum was one of the most dense museums I had ever been to in terms of artwork per square meter. I felt like no matter where you were looking, there was a famous art piece staring right back at you. Piazza Michaelangelo is this famous lookout point on top of a hill. The climb is the opposite of pleasant, but the views are like no other place you’re going to see while in Florence. You can see the entire city along with the green rolling hills in the background, and it feels quite peaceful despite all of the tourists around.

After completing our goals for the day, we spent the remaining hours walking around, shopping, eating, and visiting smaller landmarks in the city. We ended up with nearly 30,000 steps that day and were exhausted by the time we got back to Milan since our train was delayed by more than an hour. 

If you go to Italy, I believe that Florence is an absolute must. There’s a lot of tourism, but it’s very easy to escape, and there’s so much to do and see in such a small place. It’s also a very easy place to go to, whether it’s summer or winter, since none of the activities are temperature dependent. I will definitely be going again sometime in my life. 

Bologna and Monteveglio (Sept. 1-2)

This trip was a special one. My friend, Elisa, came as an exchange to Colorado while I was in high school, and she had grown up in the Bologna area. Now, I would finally get to see her again and her hometown since high school. She was the best guide as well—doing research on her own hometowns so she would be able to best inform me.

The first day was spent in Bologna, walking around under the porticoes and seeing the famous landmarks that made the city so interesting. We headed back to Monteveglio that night and spent the next day hiking around the mountains (although this was somewhat unintentional, we got a little lost trying to leave the mountain…). 

Throughout the whole trip, it felt like I was being given a personal tour of the two cities because my friend was so well-researched. I learned of a story about these two towers in the Bologna city center and how the two families had a competition to see who could create a taller tower. She also told me that “monte” meant “mount” and that the town Monteveglio was probably previously called “Montebello,” meaning “Mount of War.”

I also loved how casual this trip felt. A lot of my other trips have felt very touristy with specific goals and things to see, but my time with Elisa felt like it was just a friend seeing a friend. We ate dinner with her family, watched a movie in her basement, and I met some of her childhood friends. I loved getting a glimpse into her life and seeing her after what had been six years of Instagram messaging.

Lake Como (Sept. 3)

This trip to Lake Como was organized by a school organization that I was in, called ESN Bocconi. They planned trips and offered them to students, and they usually had very limited spots. I was lucky enough to get into this trip, and I was excited to go since I had heard great things about Como.

I met up with a friend I had made after we complained about Italy’s bureaucracy, along with another girl who joined our group. There were about 50 other students on the trip, and it felt very cliquey, and no one really interacted with each other that much.

That being said, it was an awesome day. We started with croissants and coffee for breakfast, then went on a boat tour around the lake. From there, my friends and I went up to Brunate, a smaller town above Como, before getting back together with the group for gelato and a guided city tour. 

I’d love to go back to Lake Como, maybe when it’s a bit less touristy and cooler (it felt like it was boiling the entire day). It would be fun to explore more small towns around the lake as well.

Paris, France (Sept. 8-11)

This was the first trip that I had planned to go on, and I had bought the flight tickets before I had even moved out of my apartment in Boulder. My sister was in Paris for a month for a class the same time that I was in Italy, so I knew I had to visit her. 

Despite my other trips also being jam-packed with things to do, Paris was truly non-stop. My sister and I got up early, did activities for the entire day, then got back to the hotel late at night and did it all again the next day. In just 48 hours, we had managed to visit Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens, the Petit Palet Museum, the Louvre, Versailles Palace and Gardens and the Eiffel Tower, all while eating amazing food and meeting her friends from class. 

The city is easy to navigate and get around, except I have a vendetta against their metro tickets (it’s a tiny slip of paper used for a single journey… I had a dozen of these floating around my bag). Compared to Milan, there are also a lot more parks and gardens to explore. 

I would do another trip to Paris, but it would have to be a little more relaxed than this one was. My original flight was canceled, I spent three nights sleeping on a wooden floor, left for the airport at 5 a.m., and immediately got sick the moment I got back to Milan. Still, these were all things that made the trip memorable.

Bern, Switzerland (Sept. 15-16)

Out of all the places I had been to in August and September, Bern was my favorite. The weekend before was Paris, which had been super busy, and this felt much slower-paced since there wasn’t a lot to do in the city. I went with my sister again since it was her last weekend in Europe, and we had chosen a place that was a midpoint between Paris and Milan.

Bern is beautiful in every way imaginable. It had some incredible medieval architecture, with fancy clock towers and statues on top of fountains. There’s also the Aare River that runs through the city, and it’s some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. We watched people swim down the currents and surf from the bridges, something that my sister and I still can’t understand the physics of. 

Most of all, Bern is super green. There’s foliage and parks and hills all around, so it doesn’t feel like you’re in a concrete jungle. Given that Paris and Milan are very concrete jungle-esc, we really enjoyed this part of the town. We explored some shops, went to a communication museum, and saw the famous Bern Bear Pit. I had the best Indian food of my life and swam in a spa pool. 

That being said, the trip there and back was the opposite of pleasant. From two canceled trains, two long and unexpected bus rides with a crazy driver, and a confusing interaction with two Swiss train workers that forced me to buy completely new tickets home, it’s a miracle that I got to Bern and back to Milan at all. 

Genova, Italy (Sept. 29-Oct. 1)

This trip was very unplanned. A couple of friends and I were supposed to go to Malta the last weekend of September, and we had planned it back in August. Two days before we were supposed to leave, we got notice that our flight was canceled due to an airport strike and there were no reasonable flights that we could get on to still do our trip that weekend.

Since I had hyped myself up to go to the sea for weeks, I still really wanted to go to a beach. My friend and I started looking, and an hour later we had booked a train to Genova, only two hours away by train. 

Overall, this was a very easy and relaxing trip. We were able to see a lot of sights (including Europe’s biggest aquarium) while still hanging out at a beautiful beach for half a day. I hadn’t known this before, but Genova is famously known for their pesto and focaccia. I was incredibly excited to hear about this since those were two of my favorite Italian foods.

The food was a highlight of the trip. We followed this guide given to us by our hostel, and they gave us some amazing food and gelato recommendations. Something that my friend and I failed to take note of, however, is that you needed a reservation for a restaurant if you wanted to eat at a good place Saturday night. This led us to get turned away at eight different restaurants before we were taken in. Let’s just say their food wasn’t super great.

Genova is a place that I would love to take my parents back to. It’s definitely a city that foreigners imagine Italy to look like when they think of it, with small winding alleyways and colorful buildings. It didn’t feel too touristy either, making for a fantastic, yet spontaneous, weekend trip. 

What’s Next?

It’s hard to believe that I was able to visit all these incredible places in just a little over a month. Being in Milan not only gives me a wonderful place to stay while I’m going to school, but is the perfect spot to go out and explore as much as I can. 

Next month will be a packed one: Belgium, Rome, Norway, Venice, and Cinque Terre are all on the list. Stay tuned!

Anna Bedell

CU Boulder '25

Anna Bedell is the social media director at the Her Campus, CU Boulder chapter. She writes content mainly on entertainment and culture, along with personal essays and experiences. A junior at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Anna is majoring in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and a minor in journalism. She’s recently studied abroad at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy for the fall semester. An involved student in the business school, Anna writes for the school’s marketing department, is a representative for the Leeds Student Government, and works as a Leeds Student Ambassador. Outside of school, you’ll find Anna rock climbing, watching movies, writing, or traveling around. She’s sure to constantly update her Spotify profile and will never miss an opportunity to talk about her cat, Biscuit.