Verona, the city of romance and eternal love

Aside from its reputation as a magnet for romance and eternal love, Verona has also been officially recognized by UNESCO for its incredible architectural structure and famous tourist sites.

Verona (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Although it is only the beginning of March, this is the perfect time to start planning your summer holiday. In recent years, Israelis have begun searching worldwide for the most unique and different destinations to go touring with their families, but sometimes the best places to go are the ones that are tried and true. One such vacation spot is the area near Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy.
Some families like to kick back and take it easy near the water, but there are also plenty of activities and places to visit in the area. One of the nearest cities to Lake Garda is Verona, and finding a direct charter flight from Tel Aviv is easier now than ever. You can use Verona as a home base for your vacation and do day trips to different areas or even just hop over for a long weekend.
Aside from its reputation as a magnet for romance and eternal love, Verona has also been officially recognized by UNESCO for its incredible architectural structure and famous tourist sites, such as the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheater that was built in the first century and the Funicular of Castel S. Pietro, which opened last May and from which there are great views over the entire city. Of course, as you’ll find in every Italian city, there are plenty of crowded streets lined with upscale shops where you can find brand-name items, as well as unique products made by local designers.
When your stomach starts to grumble, you’ll be happy to know that the culinary options are plentiful.
Not many people know this, but during the Renaissance, Verona was a major producer of wool and silk. Today, the city exports a lot of fruit and is known for its unique desserts, olive oil and wine. In fact, there are more than 600 wineries just in the area surrounding nearby Veneto.
I recommend making a stop at a family-run winery called Coffele, which is located in the Soave region, an area full of wineries with Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) certification. Coffele was founded 150 years ago and is still owned by family members. The winery specializes in white wine, grows its own organic grapes and follows traditional Italian methods of wine production, while at the same time looking toward the future. And while you’re in the area, I recommend taking a stroll into the old town of Soave.
There are also many boutique wineries that produce award-winning wines in Valpolicella, which is just east of Lake Garda. I visited a winery called Allegrini, which is located in Villa della Torre, an estate that dates back to the Renaissance period, that also boasts a luxury guest house. The grounds are surrounded by charming gardens you can stroll through – and if you fall in love with the wine, you’re in luck, because it can be found in wine stores here in Israel.
There are also plenty of fun attractions and theme parks for kids in the area, as well as museums. One of my favorites is the Nicolis Museum, which is named after Luciano Nicolis. This fascinating museum features motor vehicles from different periods of history, including motorcycles, bicycles and carriages.
If you’re a nature lover, you definitely won’t want to miss a trip to Natura Viva Park, where proceeds from visitors go toward rehabilitating and returning endangered animals to their natural habitats in Africa.
Another spectacular place to visit is Borghetto, a village built in the Middle Ages and one of the most romantic places you will come across in the Veneto region. Situated on the Mincio River, the quaint village boasts picturesque streets lined with cafes and shops where you can watch craftsmen working their trade. Best to visit during the daytime.
Verona is full of great restaurants; you can hardly go wrong wherever you stop to eat. In surrounding areas, most establishments use local ingredients and of course prepare their own fresh pasta. You can also visit Isola della Scala, a small town famous for the production of risotto rice, and home to Ferron, a world-renowned rice producer.
We took a tour of the factory where we saw a rice-cleaning station that dates back to 1650. One interesting tidbit I learned on the tour is that in earlier years, the rice fields were tended mostly by women. Growing rice is a complicated, arduous process, and apparently many workers died of diseases that spread due to the large amounts of water-breeding bacteria and mosquitoes. Nowadays, farmers raise carp in the waterlogged rice fields. The fish eat the bacteria and keep the water clean.
After a long day of touring, you’ll surely be ready for a nice homemade meal. You won’t be disappointed if you dine at Caprini di Turba, a small family trattoria in Negrar that uses local produce and makes fantastic fresh pasta.
The writer was a guest of the Israel-Italy Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Verona Chamber of Commerce.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.