In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...” Welcome to the beautiful city that famously provided the backdrop to the most romantic tale of tragic love ever told. No, not that glorious union of Miss Katie Price and her cheating hunk of a hubby Kieran Hayler, but that of a couple we truly believed in – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. They met, fell in love and eventually topped themselves because they couldn’t be together... Aww. Well, Verona doesn’t have to be that tragic. In fact, it’s the perfect place for young lovers to spend some good old-fashioned quality time with each other. And who knows, maybe even pop the question.
Strolling through these beautiful quaint streets, you do get the feeling you have been whisked off to a romantic fantasy world where birds sing, hearts flutter and delicious food is gobbled. For our stay in Verona, we chose the stunning Palazzo Victoria as our base. Not only is it situated slap bang in the middle of the city, it’s a hotel that screams glamour. The lavish rooms are spacious and classically decorated, some boasting huge painted murals on the ceiling, a far cry from a Premier Inn off the M25.
While we would have been happy to laze around in our sumptuous room all day long, we actually did decide to venture out on the cobbled streets to soak in that Italian atmosphere. Everywhere you look is beautiful and historic Italian architecture. Among the choice places to be dazzled by is the impressive and beautiful Duomo Santa Maria Maticolare, the city’s first cathedral, which dates back to 380AD. A little further across the city is the Teatro Romano which is over 2000 years old and still has 25 stone seats intact from the original structure. Still to this day the venue hosts performances and is used in the summer for open-air events and concerts.
But one place that’s not to be missed is the Casa di Giulietta, also known as Juliet’s gaff. Of course, like Santa and the Easter Bunny, we know now that Juliet wasn’t real. Shakespeare never actually visited Verona and this spot is really nothing more than a wicked tourist attraction, dreamt up by city officials. Back in 1905 the municipal bought
The Verona home from the Dal Capello family because their name bore a similarity to Juliet’s family name, Capulet, turning it into a must-see tourist haunt. Regardless of its dubious origins, it’s still a place where couples with love in their hearts come to visit in their legions, leaving soppy love notes behind. My partner and I simply couldn’t resist the urge.
Those ready to let their credit cards loose in the Italian boutiques should visit Via Mazzini, the main shopping avenue found at the north end of Piazza Bra, home to many of Italy’s high street chains, while you’ll find higher-end fashion stores on nearby Corso Porta Borsari. If you fancy sampling some tasty local produce, the market on Piazza delle Erbe is the place to be, rammed as it is with stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to pashminas.
Foodies will want to try some authentic Italian at Pallazo Victoria’s sumptuous restaurant Borsari 36, which is recognised as being one of the best restaurants in Verona. The open kitchen allows you to watch Michelin star head chef Carmine Calo and his team work their culinary magic, which really is a sight to behold and a joy on the tongue. Both my other half and I savoured different dishes from each course, loving every mouthful, in particular the delicious Scallops in Tomato Mayonnaise followed by tasty Swordfish Steak for mains and finishing with a yummy selection of desserts, including a spectacular Liquorice Cheesecake, all accompanied by a fine selection of wine. The excellent service was the icing on the cake. After dinner, we relaxed in the Victoria Club Bar where the friendly staff served us White Russians and fine wines in an amazingly atmospheric setting.
This was my first time in the whimsical city of Verona, and it won’t be my last. If you’re looking for the ultimate romantic getaway, or an unrivalled proposal spot, then there’s nowhere better. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be returning with a ring on my finger.
NEED TO KNOW:
British Airways offers a service from Gatwick to Verona ten times a week, increasing to 14 times a week by late May.
The lead-in fare is from £106.94 return including taxes and charges.
The hand baggage-only fare is £81.94 return including taxes and charges
To book or for more information visit ba.com or call 0844 4930787
WORDS BY LUCY HENDEL