Mum, Teacher and avid traveller Emma Kilheeney talks us through her romantic Italian mini-break….
After arriving in Verona on a warm October Monday evening, we got a taxi from Verona Villafranca Airport to the Escalus Luxury Suites where we were staying for two nights. Taxis in Verona are expensive but it is the easiest way to get from the airport to the centre of Verona. Once in the centre, nothing is more than a 10/15 minute walk away, which is ideal.
The Escalus Luxury Suites were the perfect place to stay, situated on the Vicolo Tre Marchetti, a stones throw away from the Verona Arena. The hotel staff were incredibly helpful – proving us with a detailed map and advising us where to visit. Breakfast in bed each morning was an added bonus!
On our first evening we headed to Re Carlo, a bar a short walk from the hotel and Piazza Bra. If you want to watch football in Verona, this is the place to be! Although the Liverpool versus Manchester United match was a disappointing 0-0 draw, the bar was not and served good food and a great selection of drinks.
The following day we began our sightseeing tour of Verona.
No trip to Verona is complete without a visit to Juliet’s balcony, so that is where we started.
Cliched and packed with tourists it may be but it is still worth paying the small fee (cash only) to stand on the balcony and recreate that Shakespeare scene. A short walk away from the balcony is the Piazza Erbe, filled with beautiful buildings, shops, cafes and markets, all surrounding a the Madonna Verona Fountain. It is the ideal place to stop and have a coffee, soaking up the Verona atmosphere.
We then headed north and crossed the river to the visit the Roman Theatre and archeological museum, on the recommendation of the hotel concierge. The theatre is even older than the arena, dating back to the 1st century B.C and the archeological museum, which is set in the 15th century convent of San Gerolamo, houses fascinating artifacts including mosaics, sculptures and coins. The views over Verona and the Adige river, from the theatre and museum, were stunning and undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.
After so much sightseeing, we were in need of some Italian cuisine! We headed back south to the Piazza Bra, which houses the famous arena. We found a fantastic restaurant down one of the squares side streets and tucked into a superb champagne and prawn risotto and lasagne, accompanied by traditional Italian prosecco (of course!) and Italian beer. Our table outside had a beautiful view of the piazza and arena. After lunch, we explored the arena. Although it was not the opera season, the first century amphitheater is well worth a visit and extremely impressive inside.
We finished a very busy day with a meal at Locanda 4 Cuochi, just off the Piazza Bra. Reservations are recommended in this Michelin restaurant but we arrived when the restaurant opened at 19.30 and managed to get a table for two. Although the service wasn’t the best due to the vast number of customers, the food was fantastic and imaginative – well worth a visit.
The following morning, before heading back to the airport, we walked west to Castelvecchio, a fortress built by the Della Scala family in the fourteenth century. Although we did not go inside the museum to admire the art exhibitions, we enjoyed a walk across the beautiful bridge with its impressive walls.
We finished our trip with some shopping, in Verona’s many shops on the streets surrounding the Piazza Erbe and Piazza Bra, and then enjoyed lunch at another Michelin recommended restaurant – Trattoria al Pompiere. Even for lunch, reservations are recommended here as the restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike wanting to experience the traditional Italian food, award winning tiramisu and fresh meats and cheeses on offer.
After our 48 hours in Verona, it was time to head back to the airport and say arrivederci! I can say, without hesitation ,that there are few better places to visit than Verona for short romantic break away.