Verona: the perfect spring getaway

Verona, oh Verona. She is a beauty. From the Arena di Verona, built in the first century and extremely well preserved, to Giuletta’s balcony where teenage boys giggle while touching the right breast of Giulietta’s statue for luck in love. There’s the river Adige embracing the old city centre of Verona, with the robust Castelvecchio with its M-shaped merlons standing tall beside it. The narrow streets are filled with osterias, trattorias, ristorantes and enotecas. It’s also only about an hour by train away from Venezia and close to Lago di Garda. Perfect starting point for a little exploration of the Veneto region.

Arena di Verona
Arena di Verona on a quiet spring morning with snow covered prealps in the back / photo by Annemarie Gorissen

I’ve been wandering the streets of this Venetian city in the North of Italy last week and I loved it. Low season, weekdays, start of spring. Not too many tourists yet (we had the Arena practically to ourselves) and those first rays of sunshine, gently warming the still cold air and our pale skin. We sat on terraces in the sun, drank cappuccinos and ate gelatos. Coming from cold winter days in The Netherlands, the Italian sun lifted our spirits and brought a non-stop smile to our faces. The promise of spring, the summer still ahead. I love this season so much.

We got some tips on nice osterias and trattorias from locals. Of course we immediately checked them (all) out. It turned out they knew what they were talking about. Check my illustrated map below for some great tips on where to treat yourself to some good food (3/4/8/9/11), delicious wine (5/6), some culture (1/2/10) and amazing views (15).

Do you want to learn to make a map like this yourself? Check out the class I followed a while back on Skillshare by the very talented mr. Tom Froese: Inky maps! 

illustrated map of Verona
Illustrated map of Verona / illustration by Annemarie Gorissen

I really felt I could live here if it wasn’t for the Northern location (we have our minds set on the south), the lack of beaches and the quite high cost of living. But the food, the wines, the landscape, the language – practicing the few words I know – and the architecture made me feel at home and excited for our future plans. It just makes sense: Italy is the right place. In a few weeks M and I will be on our first ‘scouting trip’ in Puglia. Visiting towns along the coast in the hope of discovering that one place that steals our hearts, where we feel we could find our way and start our Italian adventure.

Wine barrels at the winery
Wine tour at winery Gamba in the Valpolicella region north of Verona / photo by Annemarie Gorissen

I went to Verona with a friend, who had organized a surprise for my birthday. We were waiting at the given address when a little van arrived with two lovely ladies inside and large letters on the side: Wine Tour. Yes! The vineyards of the Valpolicella region are very close to Verona, covering the three valleys to the north. I discoved what Amarone and Ripasso on the wine menus meant and I found that it’s exactly what I love in a red wine. Amarones are heavy, warm, full bodied and strong. So good. If you don’t want to fall asleep after your first glass of Amarone (or don’t want to spend all your travel cash on wine), the Valpolicella Ripasso is perfect. The Ripasso is a bit lighter than the Amarone but still has that complexity that makes you sip it real slowly. It is made by fermenting the wine a second time, adding the (partially) dried grape skins that were used for the really strong, sweet wines.

It was a good thing we did this wine tour at the beginning of our trip, so I knew exactly what I was looking for on the wine menu. I’m all recharged for the next three weeks of work before M and I are off to the south of Italy for 17 days of the good life! Yeah, I know. I am not complaining…

View from Castel San Pietro
From Castel San Pietro you have a nice view of the old city of Verona and the river Adige / photo by E
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