Home Sweet Verona

by Anna

As you can imagine, I was really looking forward to reuniting with Verona. It has been nine years since I lived and studied there for the summer between my Junior and Senior years at USC. I was so excited to visit my old stomping grounds and to show Johnny all of my favorite spots!

Our view every day walking into Verona’s center

Verona is as lovely, if not more so, than I remember. Situated in a bend of the Adige River, it is bordered by beautiful bridges and castle-topped, cypress-lined hillsides. Every piazza, alley, fountain and fresco in Verona is picture-perfect.

After settling in at our B&B, Lo Streggato, where we really enjoyed getting to know our hosts and their funny 6-year-old son Marco, we spent the week eating yummy breakfasts on their rooftop terrace, cruising through Verona’s picturesque streets, hanging out in Piazza Erbe, Piazza Bra and Piazza dei Signori, eating delicious meals, sitting alongside the river and climbing the surrounding hills to check out views of the city. It was a wonderful, relaxing week in a place that I love….and a place that I’m pretty sure Johnny loves now too!

Piazza Erbe at Night
Ponte Pietra, one of Verona’s oldest bridges
Porta Borsari, an ancient Roman gate leading into the city dating to the 1st century BC
Along the River Adige at night
Delicious melon and Parma ham Osteria del Bugiardo
Verona sky Gelato
Verona Madonna in Piazza Erbe
Castelvecchio bridge

One of the things I couldn’t wait to eat again (and for Johnny to try) was Risotto All’Amarone. Amarone wine, which happens to be my favorite but is always too expensive at home to buy, is produced in Valpolicella in the Veneto wine region where Verona is situated. Even though the dish slightly resembles baby food, it is DELECTABLE, and Johnny and I had it twice during our stay and wiped our dishes clean both times.

Risotto All’Amarone at Hostaria La Vecchia Fontanina

Because of my affection for this wine and for other wines in the Valpolicella (translated: “valley of many cellars”), we found a wine tour that took us into the surrounding countryside one afternoon. We had a wonderful time with another Swedish/English retired couple from Salzburg and our two Italian guides. The countryside is literally minutes outside of Verona’s city center, and we loved seeing the valleys dotted with medieval churches, villages and vineyards. The vines were heavy with grapes and we learned that the majority of the grapes are grown using the “pergola” system, resembling umbrellas, so that the grapes are more protected from the weather while still having access to the sun. Our tour led us to Fratelli Vogadori in the Negrar valley where we tasted Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto. One of the brothers (of Fratelli Vogadori) poured our tastings and explained that Amarone is so expensive because of how long the process is to produce the wine. An Amarone is rarely drunk less than 5 years after the vintage! We picked up a bottle for 18 euros (!) and were on our way back to Verona.

Plump grapes that will be ready to harvest in September Amarone and Ripasso aging in barrels

Another highlight of being in Verona at this time of year is that it is opera season! The beautiful Roman Arena in Piazza Bra, which dates back to the 1st century AD, hosts operas all through the summer. I had seen Carmen at the Arena nine years ago and remember it as being a truly magical experience. Because of this, Johnny and I bought tickets to see La Boheme about six months ago. We chose La Boheme, because the musical Rent was inspired by it, so we thought we’d have an easier time following the story line. We treated ourselves to an amazing dinner at Botega Vini (a must-stop Verona institution with a small novel of a wine list) and then made our way down Via Mazzini to Piazza Bra and climbed up to our seats on the stone steps within the Arena. With a full moon as a backdrop to the stage, and hundreds of people holding lighted candles as dusk set in and the orchestra began, we felt transported to another time. It was an amazing evening that I will always remember.

Bottega Vini Pre-opera dinner
The Arena in Piazza Bra
The stage
Candles lit all around the Arena La Boheme

We also took advantage of the opera on several of the other nights that we were in Verona and sat in Piazza Bra with pizza and wine and listened to the sounds of the other operas, like Aida and La Traviata, wafting from the Arena. It was like a free concert every night!

So, it’s “ciao for now” to Italy (don’t worry, we’ll be back in September) as we make our way to Slovenia where we’ll be celebrating our two year anniversary!


2 Responses to “Home Sweet Verona”

  1. Sherwood on a park bench with his boo, his pizza and a big ole smile on his face….priceless. Love it!


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