Here’s one for the history buffs, wine lovers and hopeless romantics – Verona, Italy!
Verona oozes beauty and romance: surrounded on three sides by a sharp bend in the Adige river, the city’s ‘Centro Storico’ is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s full of medieval buildings, lovely Piazzas, and quite a few impressive ancient Roman structures. The best known of these is the Arena Amphitheatre, where a summer opera festival is staged from June to September. Even if you’re not an opera fan, I would really recommend attending one of the performances because it is such a unique experience.
Verona is also famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and visitors can check out Juliet’s family home and balcony. Remember, of course, that Romeo and Juliet is a fictional story, so the whole thing is…well, made up! Not that this stops tourists from clamoring for a view of the balcony and visiting the small (often crowded) museum located inside her purported home. It’s all more than a little kitschy, but it’s good fun to poke your head into the courtyard and catch a quick glimpse of the spectacle. 😊
The Centro Storico and riverfront are great for a casual stroll to take in the scenery. And although it is a popular destination, I have found Verona to be less hectic than a lot of other Italian cities that are popular with tourists. Summer weekends can be crowded, but the place generally doesn’t feel completely overrun, and at other times of year (I was there in March once) it can feel positively quiet! And Romeo and Juliet aside, it is a very romantic place to wander and “get lost” in the alleyways. Its charm and laid-back feel invite you to relax, linger and take in la dolce vita over a coffee, gelato or glass of local wine.
The city also has some terrific restaurants, and with the Valpolicella, Bardolino and Soave wine regions close by, oenophiles will feel like they’re in heaven!
I can personally recommend a few places:
Ristorante Antica Torreta: a cozy little upscale restaurant in the Centro Storico, close to the river. They have both indoor and outdoor dining space, and their menu and wine list are top notch.
Re Teodorico: killer views over the city (the sunset image at the top of this post was taken from their terrace), combined with a varied menu, make this a great place to have lunch or dinner al fresco. It’s a short but steep stair climb from the Centro Storico.
Agriturismo Corte San Mattia: another place for amazing views over the city, but with a much quieter atmosphere. It’s a working winery, farm, hotel and restaurant, offering classic dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients that are often produced right there on their property. They produce several very good wines and offer tours and tastings. This place is extra special to me, because it’s where I held my wedding celebration. 😊 (See my post about Agriturismi for more on the specific location). It is about a 45 minute uphill walk to get there, or a short car/taxi ride.
Finally, when you’ve seen enough of the city you can take a few days to explore some of the nearby wine regions, or head over to beautiful Lago di Garda. All of these places are easily reached by car, bus or taxi in less than an hour from the city center, so you could easily spend 4-6 days (or more!) visiting the region at a leisurely pace.
If you couldn’t tell already, Verona is one of my favorite Italian cities – and that’s saying a lot, because there are many very, very beautiful Italian cities! If you’re planning a trip to (or through) this part of northern Italy, I highly recommend stopping off for a few days to enjoy its beauty.
And of course, I can offer plenty of recommendations and help you plan your visit. Contact me today to get started!