There’s nothing like cramming in an Autumn holiday in a final bid for sunshine and relaxation, particularly when you’re last ‘holiday’ left you feeling permanently hungover for about 3 weeks. I went to Verona with my mum and sister for a much-needed break. Here’s why it was the perfect choice.
If, like me, you’re not 100% sure whether Verona is actually a real place or a mythical setting for Shakespearean plays, the following post will benefit you greatly. If you’re also the sort of person who enjoys amazing food and wine at reasonable prices, inspiring architecture and the anticipation of slice of history around every corner, you might also want to read on.
Nestled in the north of Italy between Venice and Milan, Verona has the same charm as more obvious Italian destinations without being as much of a tourist trap. This seems to have affected two major things: price and authenticity. It was ridiculously easy to find fantastic-quality pizza, pasta, cicchetti, wine and ice cream that didn’t cost a fortune. Better still, EVERYTHING is within walking distance, which makes a huge difference when you only have a couple of days to explore and don’t want to waist hours navigating the metro and local buses. When you spend half your life sweating on the tube, this blissful breezy existence of strolling from place feels pretty bloody good.
WHAT TO DO
A Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra, built in 1st century, this magnificent and imposing piece of architecture is quite a sight. Go inside and explore, but also sit and have an Aperol Spitz opposite. Still used for opera performances, it’s worth seeing what shows are on during your stay.
Or, ‘Castelvecchio’ – a castle-turned-museum dating back to the middle ages with astounding views and beautiful old-meets-new interiors.
Book lover and English graduate, and even I couldn’t get see past Juliet’s Balcony as a cheesy, overrated tourist attraction. Busy and a bit soulless, but tick it off the list if you have time because the building is beautiful.
There are four main churches in Verona and you can pay just 6 Euros to see them all. Each filled with breathtaking and often famous masterpieces and each with a unique character and story.
So many good shops. Too many good shops. Designer, high street, boutique, market stalls, you name it. I was a little bit tearful that I can no space in my carry on for a shiny new pair of Italian-leather shoes. I did, however, settle for the perfect boyfriend jeans and a stripy jumper from an amazing shop called Scout and a sneaky denim dress from Zara.
Whether you go up the tower, explore the castle or take the steps across the bridge, the views are stunning from every angle. Incorporate some time to sit back and take them in.
WHERE TO STAY
I’m a massive fan of Airbnb and it served us well yet again in Verona. For £85 a night, the three of stayed in a pretty, rustic and spacious apartment overlooking Castelvecchio. Our host, Francesca, was incredibly helpful, providing a detailed list of things to do. In fact, the general vibe of Verona was warm and welcoming pretty much everywhere.
WHERE TO EAT
We didn’t have a single average meal, let alone a bad one. Literally everything I ate over the four days I was there was delicious. Dinner for three with a bottle of wine and a couple of deserts rarely crept above 50 Euros. The trick was to look for a traditional, laidback ‘Trattoria’ or ‘Osteria’, rather than automatically hitting the swankiest or busiest places. Don’t get me wrong, you might get a fabulous view of some of Verona’s famous landmarks, but you could be getting better, cheaper food elsewhere. Here are a few great places we found.
Casual dinner alfresco
Pizzeria Impero – Borderline touristy but when you’re sitting in a picturesque square, surrounded by historical buildings and eating good-quality food at a good price, it’s more than acceptable.
Effortlessly cool bar
La Tradisiòn – A stylish and cosy ‘thrown together’ bar with a hipster vibe and Farmers’ Market worthy bar snacks. A glass of prosecco costs just 2 Euros. (Pictured above)
Contemporary fine dining
La Canonica – We accidentally stumbled across this gem down one of Verona’s little passage ways. Turns out it had only been open 5 days and the menu offered an impressive modern twist on some Italian classics, like veal Lasagnette and coconut tiramisu.
Atmospheric and traditional
Osteria del Bugiardo – Completely packed out every time we walked past, we booked a table for the evening and we weren’t disappointed. I could have sat in this stylish little restaurant drinking wine all night. No menus, the waiter recites what they have that day, so you know it’s fresh. The giant amoretti biscuit with warm chocolate sauce went down a treat after the tasty beef Carpaccio.
So, next time you’re planning a European city break, consider skipping the hustle and bustle of the most obvious places and bask in the beauty of Verona instead. It was completely stress-free, which is pretty important when you just want to spend a bit of time with you favourite people.