A Weekend In Verona

“What is there in Verona apart from an amphitheatre and a balcony?” a friend asked just before my weekend away. It was a good question, and I didn’t really have a good answer. I had only booked it because I fancied a romantic yet inexpensive weekend away somewhere with my wife.

British Airways fly to Verona twice daily, and with an early flight out on Saturday morning and an evening flight returning on the Sunday, it was ideal for an unrushed weekend trip.

My return flights in Club Europe were under £200, although economy flights are available from as little as £40 each way. Having checked in online the day before, and carrying only hand luggage, I was able to breeze through Fast Track security and into the lounge for a champagne breakfast.

We boarded soon after, and were shown to our seats by the Cabin Manager. Once in the air, the service was nothing short of exceptional. The Club Europe cabin gave a personal feel to the flight, and the crew were incredibly friendly, taking time out to chat to the passengers. The Cabin Manager even recognised me from a previous flight, which I find very impressive given the number of people he encounters every day.

Verona’s Catullo airport is conveniently located on the outskirts of the city, and a 15 minute taxi ride saw us to our hotel in the heart of the city. Having dropped our bags off, we walked 2 minutes to Piazza Bra and found a lovely Italian restaurant for lunch.

Sitting in the restaurant looking out at the incredible amphitheatre before me, my wife could be quite forgiven for thinking the champagne had gone to my head. I was in awe. This was a truly beautiful setting, and it certainly wasn’t limited to one place. The whole town was breathtaking.

During the summer operas and theatrical productions are performed in the amphitheatre. Unfortunately they had finished for the season when we visited. We were however able to go inside to see the impressive architecture, painstakingly preserved and restored over the years. I’d seen photographs before, but they simply didn’t do it justice.

After lunch we walked through the streets, the houses and buildings true to any post card or magazine article. Verona is completely unspoilt, and is one of the few beautiful places that hasn’t let tourism go to its head. There were no post card racks in the middle of the street, no inflated prices on their olive oils and balsamic vinegars; we were visitors, not tourists.

The Adige River snakes around the Verona’s perimeter, and at its northern tip lies the Castle San Pietro. Being at the top of a hill, the climb was no treat for the unfit, but the view of Verona from the top was spectacular and well worth the effort.

The Museo Castelvecchio is considered one of Italy’s best museums, and displayed magnificent paintings by many famous artists, including Rubens, Tintoretto and Guardi. The building is part of another of Verona’s castles, a masterpiece in itself.

We stayed at the Hotel Colombo D’Oro, a lovely little hotel perfectly located just 2 minutes walk from the Piazza Bra, and within walking distance from everywhere else in Verona. I’d booked the hotel through Expedia for under £100, which for the location was a steal. The hotel was very Italian in its style and decor, and the staff were very friendly.

The next morning we went to the Cathedral ‚Äì an architectural work of genius. The al fresco paintings that covered the interior were like nothing I’d ever seen before.

As I sat in a café sipping an astonishingly good espresso, I thought back to the question about what Verona had to offer. Yes it has an amphitheatre. Yes it was the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But this wasn’t what made me fall in love with the place. What really made me love Verona was Verona itself; the classic Italian streets and architecture, the way you could stand in any part of the city and not fail to be struck by its beauty. I came to Verona with no preconceptions and an open mind, and within minutes it had stolen my heart.