Wander among the squares, lanes and shady courtyards of the dreamily romantic city of Verona – a UNESCO World Heritage site – and you’re sure to be captivated by its timeless allure. Verona’s treasure chest of historic wonders even includes a legend: the star-crossed lovers. ‘There is no world without Verona walls / But purgatory, torture, hell itself / Hence banishèd is banished from the world / And world’s exile is death’, as Shakespeare famously described it in Romeo and Juliet. Where better to bring your beloved than to the city of love? On a balmy summer evening, you can stroll along the ‘liston’ (what the locals call the wide pavement made from Prun marble dotted with ammonite fossils) to Piazza Bra. Once there, close your eyes and be carried away on the notes floating over from the Arena, one of the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheaters. Whether you’re visiting during the famous summer opera festival or attending a rock concert, a night at the Arena is a thrill that everyone should experience.
A walk around town reveals traces of more than two millennia of history, spanning Roman (Verona had been an ancient settlement, but the Romans founded the city in the 1st century BC), the Middle Ages (Basilica di San Zeno, a Romanesque masterpiece), the Scaliger ruling dynasty (the monumental gothic Scaliger Tombs), the Venetians and the Habsburgs.
Nestled in the bends of the Adige river that flows through it, Verona boasts many attractions: Europe’s first music academy, the Accademia Filarmonica, was established here; the Biblioteca Capitolare is one of the world’s oldest libraries, and in January 2020 established a foundation for research, exhibitions and educational activities; and the Palio del Drappo Verde is the longest-running foot race in the world, first held here more than 800 years ago. Nowadays, Verona is a lively provincial capital and a shopper’s paradise: luxury boutiques line Via Mazzini.
Traditional Veronese cuisine has its roots in the kitchens of the nobility, and makes ample use of local produce. You can sample classic dishes at the Dodici Apostoli (12apostoli.com), a historic restaurant that boasts innovative gourmet menus; afterwards, sleep it offat the Hotel Accademia (hotelaccademiaverona.it), the ideal blend of old-world charm and modern comfort.
Verona is a major player in global wine, its annual trade fair Vinitaly the first – and still the largest – international wine fair. With its strategic position, the city makes the perfect starting point for our tour of some of northern Italy’s most important wine-growing areas.
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