Well I’m not sure it’s right to start my first post on The Daily Vale with bad news but bear with me!
The bad news….October is here, the nights are getting longer and very soon the heating will be on!! Next summer seems an age away, and if you are anything like me you’ll be dreaming about next years summer holiday just to take your mind off the cold outside.
The good news….October is the month when the big budget airlines release their first schedule of flights for the Spring/Summer 2017 season.
Well, there’s more good news….Once again Europe’s largest regional airline, Flybe, will be flying from Cardiff Airport to Verona, operating once weekly on a Wednesday from 29th March 2017, then twice weekly from 22nd April 2017 on a Wednesday and a Saturday (flights are currently on sale until 12th August 2017).
So what’s so special about Verona? Well, not only does it make for an amazing city break, but it’s also the gateway to one of Italy’s great lakes, Lake Garda. With so much to see and do in the area, your choices for holiday options are huge. In this post I’ll just focus on the wonderful city of Verona.
The flight time from Cardiff is around 2 hours, and from Verona airport you are just a 15 minute hop by bus from the city centre. The Aerobus costs €6 per person each way (tickets available from the machine just inside terminal) and runs every 20 minutes or so from 6am to 11pm, dropping you at the Porta Nuova Train Station from where you can get onwards connections to the Arena area (lines 11, 12 and 13). The ticket is valid on all local services for 90 minutes giving you plenty of time to get to the centre of town. If you prefer to walk from the train station into the centre, it’ll take you around 15 minutes to get to Piazza Bra, the main square outside the Arena. Taxis are also available from the airport for around €30.
When you finally set foot in Verona’s ‘Piazza Bra’ you could be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived in ‘Little Rome’. Whilst it’s not as famous as it’s big brother, Verona still boasts an impressive set of sites, and pride of place is The Arena di Verona, Italy’s third largest Roman Amphitheatre. It was constructed in the first century AD, with the majority of the original building still standing. However, its outer ring was destroyed by an earthquake in 1117, but still remains an impressive and domineering sight in the centre of town. Outside of The Arena, is Verona’s main square – Piazza Bra – which is lined with numerous cafés and restaurants, along with several important city buildings.
Famous for its association with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, no trip to Verona would be complete without a visit to Casa di Giuletta, a small house that claims to be the home of Juliet – OK so it’s a bit of a tourist trap, where crowds line up for photos on the balcony or next to the statue, but you know when in “little Rome”…
Verona in summer gets hot and humid so break up the sightseeing by grabbing a seat in Piazza della Erbe and watch the world go by with a cool beer or Aperol Spritz. This busy square in the centre of town has plenty of bars with outdoors terraces, and is overlooked by the 84m tower of the town hall, Torre dei Lamberti. Refreshed and refuelled it’s time to walk the narrow streets that criss cross the town, and fall in love with the real life movie set that greets you around every corner. Surrounded by a horseshoe shaped bend in the River Adige, the old town is compact enough to stroll around as you stumble across busy wine bars and cute little restaurants.
Elsewhere, the Castelvecchio, an ancient military fortress, is now an art museum and the Teatro Romano is a another concert venue and archaeological museum. You’ll also want to make your way across the two bridges – Ponte Scaligero and Ponte Pietra – for great views and photos…and we’re only just scratching the surface! And that is where Verona’s beauty lies. Its smaller than Rome, making it a much more intimate experience. However, it packs in so much into such a small area that it won’t leave you feeling at all disappointed.
As night draws in there’s still plenty of great culture left to experience. How about a night at The Opera. Love it? Loathe it? Not sure about it? Whichever way you feel, the experience of watching a world famous opera, in the stunning setting of Verona’s outdoor amphitheatre, is an experience not to be missed. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to do when in Verona. Be prepared for a long evening though, the operas can last four hours or more. Allocated seats are expensive and concert goers are expected to dress up. However, buy a ticket for the stone steps, for around €25, take a cushion or hire one (an absolute must), dress casually and pack a picnic of cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto ham, bread and wine and you will have an amazing night to remember. Drinks and food can be taken in, just make sure it’s all packed in plastic. A couple of places around the venue sell ‘opera boxes’ for food. We bought ours in a deli called La Botteghetta next to La Griglia Restaurant on Via Leoncino.
There are so many places in Verona to grab a bite to eat, from cheap pizzerias to more formal dining rooms, and with such a large number of restaurants and cafes, its hard to find one that really stands out. However Osteria Del Bugiardo Verona does just that. If you’re looking for something that little bit different then this place is a definite ‘must go to’. Inside (and out) you’ll find locals and tourists alike, enjoying reasonably priced quality wines, fresh tapas and a great atmosphere. This Osteria gets very busy and it’s not a big place, so get there early in the evening if you want one of the few tables. Stay there long enough and you may just get an operatic performance from the barman!!
And finally where to stay? Again there’s no shortage of options here too with plenty of hotels, B&B’s and apartments. We chose a fantastic apartment on AirBnB, just a couple of hundred metres from The Arena called Residenza Callas. This large apartment has pretty much everything you would need for any stay in Verona. Fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, WiFi, TV and plenty of space. A large living area, one large bedroom, large bathroom and just as important it’s clean, modern and costs from £73 /night.
So there you have it. A whirlwind tour of Verona and its main sights – perfect for a short break. For me, it’s a no brainer of a trip to make, especially when you can get a flight direct from Cardiff Airport. The bigger question though is how to build this in to a one or two week summer holiday rather than just a few days away. So as the October nights draw in, what better way to spend them than planning your next summer trip to Italy.
More ideas, tips and details about Verona and the Italian Lakes visit our site at www.myplaceintheworld.com
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