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Verona has been on my wishlist for some time.  This is a great place to base yourself for food, wine, history, and shopping.  This city has it all.  I got inspired to add this to my trip by A Wine Lover’s Guide to Verona.  Thank you Kevin Day for your recommendations.  We did book the Corte Realdi Suites in the heart of the city overlooking Piazza Erbe.  I’d absolutely recommend this. The views of the piazza are incredible.   You are smack bang right in the middle of the city and there are so many great restaurants.  The two bedroom apartment we stayed in was fantastic, and after a few weeks on the road we welcomed having a washer and dryer!

Corte Realdi Suites on Piazza Erbe

There is no better way to quickly get your bearings than doing a bike tour.   We booked with Veronality, a company which has a multitude of great tours and experiences. Despite the 40 degree temps (105 degrees Fahrenheit) we jumped on our bikes to learn about the history, and stop at a few osterias along the way.  It was great to taste the cheeses and of course the wines of the area.  The perfect preview of what we were about to experience the following day.

Osteria Bike tour with Veronality
Osteria Bike tour with Veronality
Osteria Bike tour with Veronality

We were so torn whether to do the Soave or Amarone tour. Soave is definitely my kind of wine, generally a light, easy drinking white wine.  We chose the Amarone tour just to understand the process better.  

Amarone is made in Valpollicela, just east of Lake Garda and the second highest DOC region for wine production in Italy, just behind Chianti.  In this area you’ll taste Valpolicella, Recioto and Amarone. 

These wines are blends of several grape varieties you may not recognize such as Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.   For the easier drinking Valpolicella you’ll find the wine is generally served slightly chilled. 

Amarone is an interesting wine and definitely something you need to taste and understand while in the north of Italy.  Using the same grapes as Valpolicella, grapes that are destined for Amarone are harvested later, completely dried, and then they go through the fermentation process. It is not a sweet wine, but it is high in alcohol and needs to be aged for several years before release. While big, bold wines are not normally my thing, I appreciated learning about what makes these wines special.  It also tastes great in Risotto all’Amarone, a classic dish of the region.

On this tour we visited Serengo Alighieri, a historic estate owned by Masi that dates back to 1353. You will see the name Alighieri a lot around Verona as the family stems from one of the decendents of the poet Dante. We learned about the process of making Amarone, followed by a tasting of each of their wines.  Masi produces and distributes Amarone and other premium wines from the Veneto.

Tasting at Serengo Alighieri

Verona is also a great place to try a cooking class.  We chose a Risotto and pasta making class and learned all about which rice to look out for risotto, how to make a traditional risotto, making pasta from scratch and also tiramisu.  It was a great way to spend a morning and honestly, the best Italian food I’ve ever had, and that is saying something.  Again, this tour was one offered by Veronality.  I really recommend this company as a great source of experiences during your stay.

Risotto & Pasta Cooking Class

A visit to Verona is not complete without a meal at Antica Bottega del Vini.  This was just a block away from where we stayed in Piazza Erbe. Dating back to the 1500s, the restaurant is full of history, and full of guests.  Be sure to have a reservation. The wine list is said to be one of the best in Italy (looks like a big Bible), and they have a huge list of wines by the glass. The food is truly excellent.  I did try the Risotto all’Amarone here.

Antica Bottega del Vini
Antica Bottega del Vini – Surprising to see 1990 Montana Sauv Blanc from NZ!

For those looking for a great food and wine experience in Northern Italy I’d recommend Verona over Venice.  It is a great place to base yourself and experience the best of the region.   

Mindy Joyce