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Exploring the Charms of Northern Italy: A Local's Journey through Milan and Verona

Buongiorno! Join me, Nic, a proud Italian, as we embark on an exciting adventure through the enchanting cities of Milan and Verona in Northern Italy. These cities hold a special place in my heart.


My journey from Venezia Mestre took only two hours and fifteen minutes as I took advantage of Italy's good high speed network. If you book in advance you can get pretty good deals to get onboard these fast and comfortable trains. I chose Italo, which is the main competitor of the Frecce trains operated by Trenitalia. Italo have a wide range of offers for discount fast travel (usually if you book in advance), they also have deals targeted to young travellers. You can find some of their deals here. Do check out Frecce trains by Trenitalia, too, We recommend travelling on Frecciarossa trains for fast, comfortable journeys.

Italo train
Italo at Milano Centrale

From the moment you arrive in Milan (Milano in Italian), you'll be captivated by the seamless blend of historical grandeur and contemporary marvels that define this bustling metropolis.

Milan boasts architectural wonders that span centuries, representing the city's rich tapestry of history. The crown jewel is the magnificent Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). As you gaze at its majestic spires and intricately carved façade, you'll be in awe of the craftsmanship and dedication that went into creating this Gothic masterpiece.

Duomo Milano
Milano Duomo

As you step onto the rooftop terrace of the top of the Duomo, a magnificent panorama unfolds before your eyes. The sprawling city of Milan stretches out in all directions, with its labyrinthine streets, grand squares, and stunning architectural landmarks.

The rooftop itself is a work of art, adorned with intricate details that showcase the mastery of craftsmanship. Delicate spires, adorned with statues, reach skyward, creating a silhouette that is both elegant and awe-inspiring. The white marble façade of the Duomo gleams in the sunlight, adding to the ethereal beauty of the scene. From this elevated vantage point, you can truly appreciate the grandeur of the Duomo itself. The sheer size and scale of the cathedral become apparent, with its multitude of pinnacles, arches, and ornate decorations. Every inch of the rooftop is a testament to the dedication and skill of the artisans who contributed to its creation.

top of duomo milano
One of the views from the top of Duomo

The interior of the Duomo is nothing short of magnificent. Your gaze is immediately drawn upward to the soaring vaulted ceilings, adorned with intricate designs and vibrant frescoes. The sheer height and scale of the space create a sense of awe and reverence.

As you explore further, you'll discover a labyrinth of pillars and arches, each one a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship that went into constructing this magnificent cathedral. The columns, meticulously carved with intricate patterns and adorned with statues, exude a sense of timeless elegance.

Sunlight streams through the stained glass windows, casting a kaleidoscope of colours that dance upon the marble floors. The play of light and shadow creates an ethereal ambiance, adding to the mystical atmosphere that envelops the space.

glass window duomo milano
One of the many glass windows inside Duomo

navata duomo nave
Inside Duomo: main nave

Just next to Duomo is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a shopping arcade that embodies elegance and grandeur. Its glass-vaulted ceiling, mosaic floors, upscale boutiques, and charming cafés create an atmosphere of timeless beauty. This iconic landmark is a must-visit for those seeking a blend of history, culture, and luxury in the heart of Milan.

galleria vittorio emanuele
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

But it's not all about beautiful buildings. The city is a paradise for food lovers, offering a delectable array of traditional and innovative dishes.

Indulge in the iconic risotto alla Milanese, a creamy rice dish infused with saffron, or savor the tender and flavorful ossobuco, braised veal shanks served with a side of saffron-infused risotto.

For dessert, venture into the charming streets of the Brera district, where gelaterias and patisseries beckon with their sweet delights. From classic flavors like pistacchio to unique combinations such as rosemary and lemon, you'll find gelato that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Italians have perfected the art of aperitivo, a pre-dinner ritual that combines delicious drinks and delectable bites. And when it comes to enjoying this delightful tradition, Milano is undoubtedly a fantastic destination with its vibrant bar scene.

In Milan, the concept of aperitivo takes on a whole new level of sophistication. As evening descends, the city's bars come alive, offering an array of enticing options for locals and visitors alike. From trendy cocktail lounges to cozy wine bars, there's something for every taste and preference.

The beauty of aperitivo lies in its versatility. Whether you prefer a classic Negroni, a refreshing Aperol Spritz, or a sophisticated glass of Prosecco, you'll find an extensive selection of drinks to satisfy your palate. Pair these libations with a generous spread of complimentary appetizers, ranging from savoury bruschetta to delicate bite-sized canapés, and you have the perfect recipe for a satisfying pre-dinner experience. With its laid-back charm and stylish flair, this pre-dinner ritual has become the epitome of cool. As the sun sets, young people gather to sip tantalizing cocktails, nibble on delectable bites, and soak up the buzzing energy of the moment. From Rome to New York City, the aperitivo wave has taken the world by storm, offering a taste of la dolce vita to young wanderers eager to explore the world and indulge in Italy's irresistible charm.

aperitivo spritz
Aperitivo with Spritz, an Italian classic

Milan's bar scene showcases a diverse range of establishments, each with its own unique ambiance and character. In the bustling Navigli district, you can enjoy aperitivo al fresco while overlooking the picturesque canals. In the trendy Brera neighbourhood, you'll find stylish cocktail bars serving creative concoctions that push the boundaries of mixology. And in the historic centre, classic establishments offer a blend of old-world charm and timeless elegance.

But aperitivo in Milano is not just about the drinks and the food—it's about the atmosphere and the camaraderie. As locals gather in bars, friends and colleagues come together to unwind, socialize, and celebrate the joys of life. The energy is infectious, and it's a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant Milanese culture and embrace the convivial spirit of the city.


Leaving behind the fast-paced rhythm of the Milan, I boarded another train for a journey filled with anticipation, ready to be captivated once again by Verona's romantic allure.

milano verona google maps
Source: Google Maps

As I arrived in Verona, I was immediately greeted by a sense of tranquillity. The city's winding streets, adorned with quaint buildings and picturesque squares, brought a sense of nostalgia and familiarity. It's as if I stepped into a cherished memory, rekindling the joy and wonder of my previous visits.

A view of Verona

Verona's romantic reputation stems from its association with the timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet. The palpable sense of love and longing in the air ignites my own romantic spirit. Beyond the Shakespearean allure, Verona showcases architectural marvels that whisper stories of its rich history.

The Verona Arena stands as a majestic testament to the city's rich history and enduring cultural legacy. Stepping inside this ancient Roman amphitheatre, one is immediately struck by its grandeur and historical significance.

arena verona
Verona Arena

The Verona Arena is renowned for its exceptional performances, particularly its world-class opera productions. With its open-air setting, the audience is treated to an immersive experience under the stars, where the magic of music and theatre unfolds before their eyes.

As the lights dim and the curtain rises, the stage comes alive with breath-taking sets, elaborate costumes, and a symphony of voices that fill the air. From powerful arias to dramatic duets, the Verona Arena becomes a stage for the most renowned operatic works, enchanting spectators with its unparalleled artistry.

Attending a performance in the Verona Arena is a truly memorable experience. The amphitheatre's remarkable acoustics allow every note and nuance to reach the audience with stunning clarity and depth. The collective energy of the crowd, their applause and shared anticipation, creates an electric atmosphere that heightens the sense of shared appreciation for the arts.

In addition to opera, the Verona Arena hosts a variety of concerts, ballets, and cultural events throughout the year. Its versatility as a venue ensures that there is always something captivating happening within its historic walls.

arena verona opera
A view from inside Verona Arena during Opera

Strolling through Verona's streets, I discover hidden gems at every turn. The charming Piazza delle Erbe, with its bustling market and vibrant atmosphere, invites me to try the local delicacies and soak in the city's lively ambiance. The well-preserved medieval architecture, adorned with colourful facades and intricate balconies, paints a picturesque backdrop for my journey.

Stepping away from Arena, one can venture into the cozy osterie scattered throughout the city, where the architectural wonders of Verona seamlessly merge with the enticing aromas of traditional Veronese cuisine, which is a celebration of flavours and regional specialties.

Osterie are quintessential food places that embody the authentic charm of Verona's culinary scene. These traditional eateries offer a glimpse into the rich gastronomic heritage of the region, serving up hearty dishes and a warm, convivial atmosphere that truly captures the essence of Veronese dining.

Walking into an osteria in Verona feels like stepping into a cozy retreat. The rustic and unpretentious décor creates an inviting ambiance, evoking a sense of nostalgia and a welcoming atmosphere. The emphasis is on simplicity and genuine hospitality, making visitors feel right at home.

The menu at an osteria showcases the traditional dishes of Verona, which pay homage to local ingredients and culinary traditions. From classic pasta dishes like gnocchi or risotto, to meaty mains such as hearty braised beef or succulent grilled sausages, the focus is on hearty, satisfying fare that celebrates the region's culinary heritage.

Verona osteria
Inside a typical Osteria

In addition to the exceptional food, osterie are known for their extensive wine lists, which feature an array of local wines from Verona and the surrounding areas. From crisp whites like Soave to full-bodied reds like Valpolicella or the renowned Amarone, the osteria experience is enhanced by the opportunity to savor and appreciate the region's diverse wine offerings.

What truly sets osterie apart is the convivial atmosphere they create. These establishments are gathering places where friends, families, and strangers come together to share a meal, engage in lively conversations, and create lasting memories. The welcoming and communal vibe encourages diners to slow down, savour their food, and engage in the art of conversation—a cherished tradition in Verona.

ripasso osteria
A sign jokingly advertising "remedial courses for non-drinkers"

Beyond the architectural marvels and culinary delights, both Milan and Verona exude a vibrant energy that emanates from the locals themselves. The Italians' zest for life and passion for their cities are contagious. Whether you're sipping an espresso in a cozy café, strolling along the picturesque Navigli canals in Milan, or soaking in the romantic ambiance of Verona's Juliet's balcony, you'll find yourself immersed in the true spirit of Italy.

Exploring Milan and Verona is an extraordinary journey that combines the best of history, architecture, food, and lively vibes.

Click here for more insights into other travel destinations!

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