Several weeks ago I was able to visit our suppliers in Verona. It was great to look at new products with them, and see what could be done, and improved from our current core breaks. Italy is such a versatile country offering everything from opera, culture and history, along with fantastic cuisine, wine and of course the weather! With most parts of the country easily reached in less than 3hrs by plane, enjoying an Italian short break is so easy. We have already started working on these updates, however, it does take time to plan, along with regular contact with our suppliers!
Whilst I was in Verona I also had some free time to explore this wonderful little town. On my last trip I did the main things that with your Verona Pass Card (provides free access to many local sights and included with our packages), you must do. This included visiting the Verona arena during the day, before all the wonderful sets are installed. For anyone who is in Verona in late June to late August time, just having a meal in one of the restaurants outside the arena, you will get a real flavour of just how incredible the acoustics really are.
The next must do is visit Juliet’s balcony. Whilst this in itself does not take long, I recommend a look inside the house and standing on the balcony. There is a small fee for entrance into the house, but it is worth it. My top tip; the courtyard that houses the balcony is the number one site that every tourist heads to. If you want to get a good photo, make sure you are there at opening time. I did this on my last day and I had enough time to really get the photos I wanted.
Whilst you may consider the Juliet part of your Verona tour over, a visit to Juliet’s house is also worth a look. Confusingly this is located around a 15 minutes walk from the balcony, but ideally close if you are staying at Hotel Firenze and the train station. This often overlooked house is a lovely way to spend an hour and without the crowds, it means you have time to really soak up the atmosphere.
The next two must do’s are a visit to Castelvecchio, Verona’s castle. After a walk through the museum, enjoy a stroll along the battlements for some great photo opportunities, before coming back down. I would definitely recommend around 2hrs to see everything here.
Click here for more information on our Verona Opera Lover’s Break.
The last option is the history museum. Again, largely overlooked just on the eastern side of the river, this museum is like a tardis! From the outside it looks rather small, built into a terrace-like structure, however, inside it goes on forever! As long as the school children are not visiting on this day, you can enjoy the museum without the crowds. Definitely allow several hours here.
Last time I stayed in Verona I stayed in Hotel Firenze, which is one of our main 4 star hotels in Verona. It is around a 10 minutes walk to the arena. It is tastefully decorated with many mod cons, including a built in surround system in the bathroom, so you don’t miss the news while freshening up!
On my recent visit I stayed at Hotel Accademia, the other 4 star hotel we are proud to offer to our guests. In the thirteen years of selling holidays to Verona, Hotel Accademia has always been our reliable, dependable constant. Located around a 5 minutes walk from the arena, in the shopping district, this hotel is perfect for those wanting to be in the middle of everything during the day, but with some peace and quiet at night. I have never stayed in a hotel that was so quiet! It was only when I went down to breakfast I was aware I was not the only guest! The service was professional, the food fantastic. Hotel Accademia is a more traditional, older style hotel, which feels perfectly in keeping with its surroundings. For those wanting a lunch or dinner inside, Hotel Accademia have their own restaurant. This is quite rare in Verona as most guests like to wander and see where their nose takes them. But after a long day exploring, it is good to know you have the option!
So, what did I do on this trip? Outside of my meetings I headed to Basilica of San Zeno. This pretty church is built on three levels, including the crypt of San Zeno. Once you have listened to the audio information, wander outside around the cloisters.
I also got to see the Teatro Romano, which unfortunately was partially demolished to make way for the road, but is still a lovely open-air arena. A word of warning if heading to the museum; there are steep steps and it takes around 15 minutes to walk to the theatre. I thought once I had entered the building I had finished climbing, but the steps continue up. While at the top you are awarded with lovely vistas over Verona and the river, it can be a bit exhausting and I did this in around 17 celsius heat; in the summer this may be even more of a challenge!
Regrettably I was unable to visit AMO, the main opera arena’s museum. This was only built after my first visit to Verona. Having heard that this museum houses some of the original opera sets and costumes, I was very keen to explore for myself. Unfortunately the day I arrived was the day the pieces were moved and the museum is only reopening now. A good reason to return!
But my travels on my Italian short break went beyond Verona. I also got to spend the day exploring nearby Vicenza. This city is famous for Andrea Palladio’s fantastic architecture, which is present in most of the buildings you walk past, as they are all his designs. I walked around Villa Valmarana and a short walk on took me to Villa La Rotonda. Both are a lovely, easy visit. La Rotonda you may remember was featured on Francesco da Mosta’s BBC’s ‘Top to Toe Italy’ as the building was is the same whether you entered from the east, west, north or south face.
Both these villas are just outside the main town. Heading into the town, I saw how easy it was to travel around. Vicenza is essentially one main street with plenty of smaller streets leading off to the left and right. Impossible to get lost even for me, this lovely little town is away from the bulk of the crowds, and has some fascinating buildings to explore. The main one was Teatro Olimpico; a wonderful petite theatre house which still plays occasionally to a set audience at certain times of the year.
The above combined with lovely weather, cuisine and wine, made the perfect fusion of why any Italian short break will live in the memory for a long time to come!
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