Italy – Rome, Florence, Milan & Como

For as long as I can remember I had wanted to visit Italy. Everything about the country just seemed so dreamy. The best carbs in the world, the best wine, a beautiful language, the most beautiful scenery and monumental historical sites that just have you in awe!

I went last year for the first time, landing in Rome I had planned to stay a full 5 days. However, Rome can easily be done (in my opinion, depending on how much of a walker you are) in 3/4 days. One of the best things about Italy is the brilliant train network that gets you from one city to another. One word of advice….whatever you book to do or see in Italy, book it all online. It’s quicker and cheaper. This year, I went back to Italy but this time to Milan and Lake Como for a long weekend. Here are my top things to do in all 4 cities .

ROME

Colosseum

This is a bit of an obvious one. It’s one that cannot be missed. Walking up to the Colosseum will make your jaw drop. You see it in pictures, videos online but nothing prepares you for when it’s right in front of you.

Now one thing I would advise you on….get onto a tour. You do not want to be waiting in the horrendous queues. There are 100s of tour operators to chose from, they will all approach you saying they have the best tour. Choose wisely. I paid 50 euros for mine and got the tour of the Colosseum inside but also bagged in the tour of the Roman Forum. It was incredible!!!

Roman Forum

It is amazing at how many thousands of years worth of history is all within close proximity of each other and been very well preserved. There’s a lot of walking to do around the Roman Forum therefore, wear comfy shoes. (In fact, just pack comfy for Rome). The forum is surrounded my several ancient buildings. Where the Colosseum will take around 2 hours, The Roman Forum tour is max 1 hour. The tickets for the Colosseum should include your tour of the Roman Forum.

Trevi Fountain

Another famous landmark in Rome. The Trevi Fountain is beautiful and is said to make you come back to Rome if you throw a penny in! This place has to be seen in the day but also at night time with the lights on. Prepare yourself though, there’s never a quiet time around here. But it is well worth it. Advice – to get a good shot of the entire Trevi Fountain; there’s a church right opposite. If you stand at the top of it’s stairs you (where it’s less busier) you’ll be able to get a fab shot of the entire landmark! Or show up at 6am when there’s no people!

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is a short walk from Trevi Fountain and another you can’t miss. You’ll have to see this one during the day as it closes at 6pm. The queue for this may appear long but goes down pretty fast. It’s beautiful inside and a must see is when you look up inside the dome to see the ocolus.

The Vatican

I know you shouldn’t say the Lord’s name in vain but JESUS CHRIST!!! You cannot not leave this continent and not see The Vatican. I would suggest you spend the majority of your day here and book onto a tour. It’s the best way to avoid the queues but also begin to understand what you’re actually experiencing. I paid 50 euros for my tour and it did not disappoint.

There is SO much to see and take in at The Vatican. Walking around the museums and seeing the art will leave you in nothing but admiration. The best is always left until last…The Sistine Chapel. This has the most intricate paint work I’ve ever seen – Michael Angelo’s – The Last Supper. Give yourself a full day to experience The Vatican and of it’s museums.

Altare della Patria

Now this can be a quick visit but if you want to get the best views of Rome….then get yourself to the big white government building…Altare della Patria. There’s a 10 euro fee to get on the lift that takes you all the way to the top. But it won’t disappoint! You get the entire view of Rome.

Piazzas & Spanish Steps

Rome is full of beautiful piazzas my favourite being Piazza Venezia, Navona, Di Spagna where the Spanish steps are and to get another wonderful panoramic view of Rome go to Terrazza Del Pincio.

FLORENCE

You can get to Florence from Rome within 2 hours! It was super easy and comfortable. Florence is based in the region of Tuscany and is filled with beautiful architecture.

Duomo

The famous cathedral (Duomo) is a prominent feature of Florence. It’s architecture is stunning, it is basically art. From which ever angle you look at it, the Dome is what gives the building it’s striking look. Now unfortunately I didn’t get the pleasure of going inside or all the way to the top of the dome to get a view of the city as the queue was incredibly long. But when I go back, it’ll be a must thing to do.

Ponte Vecchio

This little bridge I almost missed and walked straight by without realising it’s there. Ponte Vecchio is a small bridge compromising of nothing but jewellery shops and tiny little houses. It is worth seeing as I believe it has the most jewellery shops on it than anywhere else in Florence. It has some really cute shops along the way.

Piazzale Michaelangelo

Now I didn’t quite get to the top of Duomo, but I got to the top of Pizzale Michalangelo and whoaaa!! WHOA!! 1 – it was one hell of a inclined cardio walkout (thank god I wore trainers) and 2 – you’re in a for a treat! On the way you pass a beautiful Japanese rose garden that will give you a lovely view. But don’t just stop there. Keep climbing that hill to get to Pizzale Michaelangelo for some stunning views of Florence. To get back to the city I’d recommend a bus down straight into the centre.

MILAN

I was super super excited to go back to Italy and this time to fashion capitale! Milano! This time I visited for 3 full days. Although I felt I got the bulk of what I wanted to see done, I could’ve had 1 more day to explore Milan further. We got lucky with our hotel, we bagged the Nhow for a bargain (in a hip fashion district, where they had fashion week, have a Banksy exhibition and have amazing restaurant and bars). We even got upgraded to a junior suite by just asking for an upgrade. If you don’t ask you don’t get!!!

Duomo

Another Italian city and another beautiful Duomo. Italy seems to have nailed it with these beautiful cathedrals. Just like Duomo in Florence and The Vatican, Duomo in Milan is unforgettable. From the moment you see it from any angle, you won’t be able to stop staring. The intricate detail of every single piece is pretty mind blowing. No wonder it took 600 years to build! Advice….purchase your tickets online at ticketone.it and get there as early as you can to avoid the long queues. You want to get the ticket that gives you access to the lift that goes to the terraces (17 euros each). The arches are stunning and will give anyone photo envy but the higher you go the more scenic it gets!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Right next to Duomo is the luxury shopping mall Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. You purposely want to go here for 1 – to see the gorgeous building itself 2 – spin on the bull 3 times for good luck and 3 – just aimlessly wonder around the most beautifully merchandised high end stores. From Louis Vuitton to Prada, it’s hard to not want to buy anything. Oh…just don’t leave without having a delicious gelato cone from Amorino!

If we had 1 more extra day in Milan we could’ve seen Szforesco Castle, Santa Maria delle Grazie (another gorgeous Church but with Da Vinci’s The Last Super painting) and Arco della Pace.

LAKE COMO

Just when you think you’ve seen the beauty of Italy in Florence, Rome and Milan there’s Lake Como. This was another jaw to the floor moment! I know both lakes are named the most beautiful lakes in the world and I can clearly see why. Not just the lake but the city of Como is just as picturesque. As we were in Milan for a full 3 days, we managed to squeeze a day trip in. Only 30-40 mins away from Milan on the train and an 8 euro return, it made perfect sense to go! Buy your train tickets online on trainline.com

Duomo

Another Italian city….another beautiful cathedral. In the heart of Piazza del Duomo this cathedral is definitely worth seeing. Entry is free therefore, you can freely walk around. One piece of advice…when you’re visiting any Duomo in Italy you MUST have your knees and shoulders covered (this includes the Vatican). If you’ve not, you may be denied entry or be given someone else’s dirty forgotten scarf to cover yourself.

Cable Cars

This is one thing I urge you to do when you’re in Como. Get the cable car to go all the way to the top for the most stunning panoramic view of the city and of Lake Como. Not just that but you’re in for a real treat to see the range of the Alps!! It is breath taking! You can also walk further up seeing some beautiful churches and villas. The ticket for the cable care is 5 euros per person, but it’s something you don’t want to miss.

Other things…I would’ve loved to have done a boat ride and gone up to Bellagio which meant to be another beautiful town however, didn’t get the time to as it’s 1 hour from Como. But it’s on my list for next time. Food in Como is also great. As you walk further along the Lake, more towards the cable cars you have an array of fab restaurants to choose from to have pizza/pasta and a glass of vino.

Overall, for me Italy has been the most beautiful place I have actually ever seen! Every region of Italy has something different and a completely different vibe to it. There’s something there for everyone not forgetting the incredible food and wine. I am still yet to find my favourite Italian dish in the UK (Cacio e peppe). The simplicity of this dish, yet the flavours are delish!!! Getting to any part of Italy from the UK is super easy as Ryanair and Easyjet do affordable flights. We managed to get our return flight from London airports for £40. I flew to Rome from East Midlands for £30 return!!! Absolute bargain. You can grab some real good hotel bargains via booking.com too. Rome doesn’t have any major hotel chains within the centre therefore, your best bet is to get a boutique hotel and as for Milan….we’ll you’re spoilt for choice with some incredibly trendy boutique hotels.

I cannot wait to plan my next trip to Italy, which will most likely be the south. Ideally I’d like to hire a car and drive down from Rome to Naples and all the way south! Fingers crossed.

P x

Amsterdam

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This was my second trip to the beautiful city of Amsterdam and it was just as brilliant as the first time!

Bustling with a ton of culture, a gazillion bicycles, the home of the red light district, waffle houses on every street….Amsterdam is one city you can never get tired of.

We booked ourselves into the Ramada Apollo and couldn’t have been happier with the hotel. Not only did we get a bargain on the room through booking.com but the staff were amazing in helping to plan a surprise for my best friend’s hen. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious, the tram stop is a 1 min walk – 10 mins into Dam Square and the hotel comes with a brilliant rooftop bar.

The city has a brilliant tram system and is super affordable for you to get from one side of the city to the other. A lot cheaper than the TFL, a tram pass in Amsterdam is 8 euros for 24 hours or 3 euros for 1 hour!

Top Things To Do in Amsterdam:

Museums: 

Amsterdam is full of weird, quirky, totally bizarre but SUPER interesting museums. You could easily spend a day going around them. Here’s the ones you cannot miss…

1). Anne Frank Museum. The museum gives you a detailed insight into Anne’s life. Whilst it’s an amazing place to visit, it is also very very sad to see how her and her family coped in the tiny house. It’s worth the experience, to see photos and her diary, the tiny staircase and more. If you want to visit you HAVE to book online in advance to avoid the horrendous queue. Book your ticket here.

2). Van Gough Museum. I was really excited to visit this museum as I had learned a lot about Van Gough during Art GCSE. Here you’ll get to see the famous painting such as Sunflowers, Starry Night, a self portrait and many more. Tickets are 17 euros. Book online or you can queue.

3). Banksy Exhibition – Moco Mueseum. Now this one you do not want to miss!! I loved it. The exhibition is home to Banksy’s most famous artwork as well as host to pieces by Dali, Warhol, Kusama and more. 4 floors of fabulousness make sure you buy your discounted tickets online for 11 euros and skip the queue! Be quick though, the Banksy exhibition is only on until 30th September!

4). Museum of Prostitution. In the heart of the Red Light District, this museum will walk you through the legal trade of prostitution in Amsterdam. You will hear real life stories from the women and see the set up of their homes and where clients are taken. If you’re a bit freaked out about seeing women in windows, this museum walks you through the normality of it in the city and how they live a normal life. You can buy there for 11 euros.

5). Rijksmuseum – Tbh…we only went to have a look at the building. Inside it’s beautiful but we didn’t pay to go see the exhibition as we weren’t that bothered about it. If you’re interested in the artist then you may want to.

6). Sex Museum – Just a walk away from Amsterdam Centraal, this museum is full of the weirdest sexual facts from around the world, dating way back to the early ages. Just watch out for the flashing old man and the farting ass!!!

Red Light District:

You can’t go to Amsterdam and not go to the Red Light District! The area is most alive and buzzing during the weekends however, during the week there is still much to see. Some may find it seedy and some just accept it for what it is – women in windows. What they don’t tell  you thought is the windows with blue lights. We tried to spot these but don’t think we were in the right location. Whilst the red lit windows have some beautiful women, there are blue lit windows with transvestites and dwarfs. There’s a dark side to the city but it’s worth learning about.

Along the same stretch of the red light district you have the sex shows. YES – sex shows. You watch people having sex on stage. To be honest I found it hilarious and intriguing at the same time – not sure if it was a nervous laughter but it’s worth the experience.

Bloemenmarkt:

The floating flower market. 15 stalls full of beautiful flowers and of course the home of the famous Tulip.

The Bull Dog:

Listen….if you’re here to judge then just go!!! Smoking marijuana in Amsterdam is LEGAL and the place you want to go……THE BULLDOG! You can openly smoke in Amsterdam and literally no one gives a shit, it’s great and life is great! (I am not writing this whilst I’m high). The Bull Dog has been around for years and is pretty much an empire in Amsterdam. The menu is pretty extensive, you can buy pre-rolled joints to make life easier. Joints of all flavours and so on. Just go for it.

Where To Eat:

I never thought Amsterdam would be an amazing city for food, but it is…it’s amazing! The first place you want to get yourself to is FoodHallen. If you’re a foodie you will want to get your butt to this food market. Full of amazing cuisines from around the world and an amazing gin bar!

The Avocado Show If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen my slight obsession for this place. Another must visit when in Dam. There’s 2 of this around the city. It may sound simple and pretty obvious to what’s served but JESUS the avocados are so perfectly ripe and tasty. The food is brill but the customer service crappy. Thank god we had 1 waiter towards the end of the visit who saved the crappy customer service.

The Breakfast Club: Another great little find, just behind FoodHallen. This little place gives you total Shoreditch vibes. With amazing buttermilk pancakes, oat milk lattes, amazing bread. It was just a huge shame that the experience was ruined by a spider in my pancakes…..which the staff so casually shrugged off. Tbh the kitchen is super cleaned so hopefully it’s a one off. But the moment I took that first bite of pancake I was in heaven.

A FusionAn amazing (seriously SO good) sushi & grill restaurant. Everything about this restaurant was perfection. The decor, the food, the wine, the service. I have never tipped so much in my life, but the team fully deserved every euro!! You cannot miss it due to the yellow door and when you enter the interiors and decor is so dreamy. The sushi is delicious and not forgetting the house red!

OmeleggIt’s true, they are the best omelettes in town. You will have to queue, but not for long if you get there early! But it’s totally worth the wait! 

Manneken Pis: Yes, they are the best frites in Amsterdam!!! Thick, fluffy, hot chips covered in cheese sauce. On the same road as Primark, C&A and right opposite the huge department store. Expect there to be a queue, but you will NOT be disappointed!

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There are still some places that I didn’t get to check out, so I’m hoping the next time I am there I will get the opportunity to. But if you’re planning on going or you’re already in Amsterdam let me know if you’ve been to:

Mama Kelly Amsterdam

PolaBerry

Happyhappyjoyjoy

Van Wonderen Stroopwafels

Also, it’s pretty easy to rent a bike and cycle around the city. For 14 euros for the day you can explore. Best thing is cyclists have their own separate lane alongside cars and the tram.

Hope you enjoyed the Dam post.

P x

Leicester’s Beauty Haven…Amelia Nour

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If you’re local to Leicester, you’ll know that Francis St in the area of Stoneygate is becoming quite the place for niche independent boutiques.

This weekend I visited the gorgeous beauty boutique – Amelia Nour.

Founder and owner – Meesha Kanadia, started her dream project 3 years ago and has built it into a beautiful beauty boutique full of luxuries to bring your senses alive. From the minute I stepped into the boutique all I could think of was ‘oh my god it smells amazing in here’. Thanks to the Coco Luxe candles she stocks.

I was greeted by Meesha and her mum with open arms and was taken on a tour of the store. I had been looking forward to this since Meesha had asked me to pop in for a visit. So getting a personalised tour and finding out all about the products was super exciting for me.

Amelia Nour stocks a range of products that will leave you glowing, relaxed, balanced and just wanting more for your wellbeing. Brands include:

  • Oskia
  • Coco Luxe Australia
  • Bali Balm
  • Neom
  • Wild Nurition
  • Mauli Rituals
  • Sister & Co
  • Sirocco Teas
  • MOA
  • Ila

…….plus many many more!

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What was so wonderful to see was Meesha’s passion and knowledge about the brands she stocks. It’s clear that the products at Amelia Nour are carefully sourced and considered. Only products that Meesha truly believes in, are ethical and that really make a difference in your wellbeing will be stocked. That’s when she had my attention and I knew this was a store I would become loyal to. AM1

Meesha was kind enough to gift me some products to try. Obviously as a total beauty junkie, I was over the moon and so grateful she took the time to make me a little goodie bag (FYI….recyclable bags)!

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From a range of body scrubs, to bath oils, hand and foot creams, to the AMAZING Moa beauty balm and Mauli hair strengthening oil I cannot wait to start using these beauties! I really got to know the products and their benefits because of Meesha. Understanding the history of a product and it’s life cycle from conception to actual product is what makes me fall in love with it. Who doesn’t love a good little story behind the products you’re using right?!?!

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One of things I absolutely loved about Amelia Nour was the relaxed ambience. Usually when I walk into small boutiques I feel pressured to buy as I feel like I’m being watched. But not here. Whilst Meesha showed me around and introduced me to the brands, there was no pressure to buy. I was happily left to wonder and really enjoyed the experience. If I could, I would’ve happily spent the whole day there!!

Meesha and her mum are absolute beautiful people and so admirable too! Meesha on a day to day studies law however, has always loved beauty and dreamt of having her own place. 3 years on and here she is totally bossing it with a gorgeous apothecary in Leicester.

Her website stocks all the amazing brands and she’s also working on a blog which I’m excited to see. Amelia Nour’s instagram page will fill you with beauty luxuries and you’ll be able to see what’s new. She also hosts events in the store which I look forward to attend.

Definitely give Meesha & Amelia Nour on Instagram a follow and be sure to pop into her beautiful boutique.

There’s something there for everyone. From premium to luxury products for women, men and even for your home. The experience is totally worth it! You’ll be going back for more, trust me on this one!

Thank you to Meesha for inviting me in! I’m looking forward to seeing your dream grow bigger and celebrating your success with you!

P x

 

 

 

Clinique iD

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Clinique has been part of my skincare routine since I was at university. I came across the brand in my first year of university, just over 10 years ago. I began using their toners, then after the serums, the eye creams and most recently the cleanser. Not all suited my skin but the serums for pigmentation was a total game changer for me. I noticed the pigmentation fade and overall the look of my skin better and even. Since then, I’ve been super invested in the brand.

It was late last year that the Clinique PR team reached out to me to attend a local event to get to know the brand more and discover more of their best selling products. Last week I was invited into my second event with the team in Selfridges to discover their newest hot product on the market – Clinique iD.

So what is Clinique iD?…….There’s a choice of different combinations to hydrate and treat your skin according to your own individual target areas.

Your first step is to pick your base formula. Depending on what type of product you find the most moisturising and which texture suits you best. You have a choice of the dramatically different lotion, gel or the new kid on the block – the jelly.

clinique base

I didn’t want anything too thick as I want to use it under my SPF moisturiser daily and not make my make up look too cakey. I loved the consistency of the jelly. So that was my base picked. First step done.

Now here’s the best bit…5 different serums with concentrated actives to target different skin concerns:

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I have pigmentation around my lips and chin area (#browngirlproblems) and anything that will make my skin bright and glow……I am there for! Therefore, I knew straight away my saviour would be the white cartridge ‘uneven skin tone‘.

It’s SO simple to connect the two parts together. Unpack both from the plastic caps and pop the cartridge into the jelly and BOOM, let the magic begin.

Each pump has a blend of your hydration base and serum that tackles your individual issue.

I use this day and night. Love the feel of it and it absorbs pretty quickly into the skin. The Clinique iD promises ’24 hour hydration, repair and pollution protection’. Perfect for when I’m running around the city.

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I will admit, over the past 3 months I have been using a facial massager which has dramatically helped change the appearance of my skin. I massage my face with this tool day and night for 2 mins and have found that it allows my skincare to deeply settle in and really works down through all the layers. It’s promoting better blood circulation and really helps the tone of my skin.

Having had success from the Clinique serums before to sort my pigmentation out, there’s no doubt that I will be able to see the effects of Clinique iD quickly.

Thank you to the beautiful ladies in Selfridges for helping me find my iD and a huge thanks and hug to the mega babes at Clinique – Beth & Stephanie.

You can order online or pick up from your nearest Clinique counter for £36.00

P x

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