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December 10 2013 Latest news:
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You may not find your Romeo in Verona but you will discover a city full of delights. REVIEW BY Janet Reeder
When in Rome...as they say. But we werent in Italys capital city we were in Verona and when in Verona it is obligatory to go up and touch Juliets boob.
This act of homage is supposed to bring you luck in love because the lady in question is the star-crossed Shakespearean heroine celebrated in the city where the Bard based his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet.
Its a statue by the way and it stands in a small square next to the famous Juliet balcony where you can pay six Euros for the privilege of standing upon it and looking tragic. All massive fun, even if the balcony was built in the 1930s and Shakespeare never even visited the city. There is no tribute to the Two Gentlemen of Verona he wrote of either but I guess they havent the same allure as the lovely Juliet.
Monarch airlines have recently launched direct flights to Verona from Manchester. This means it is accessible as Rome and Venice and yet much more laidback and less frantically touristy. In fact it is the perfect place for a long weekend of eating amazing food, drinking excellent wine, shopping sightseeing and of course, romance.
But perhaps the biggest attraction on our visit was the Opera Festival in the citys incredible Coliseum. This is the biggest opera venue in the world, dating back 2000 years and the experience of watching the opera there is utterly magical.
The cheaper tickets for the gods offer a panoramic view of the entire stadium and the 20,000 plus audience. From our seats, about six rows from the stage, the experience was phenomenal. As the night falls the moon comes out over the stage, and if your eyes wander while listening to a sublime aria you may even catch a shooting star overhead.
Then during interval times you can stare at the designer-clad audience, for this is a wonderful opportunity to dress up in your finery. If you wish, you can totter over to the champagne bar and grab a glass of fizz between acts. Its all so deliciously enjoyable.
There must have been a cast of 200 in the production of Carmen we saw as well as real horses. It was such a spectacle and one of the most incredible opera experiences I have ever had.
Veronas a smallish town with a wonderful atmosphere and lots of pedestrianised areas to wander, shop and explore. Our hotel the four-star Palazzo Victoria was based right in the heart of the city so every wonderful restaurant, such as the courtyard dining of restaurant Maffei was within strolling distance.
We also found a divine little restaurant with views across the river called Ponte Pietra which is fabulous. You sit facing the bridge and become part of the glamorous view along the river.
Verona of course is the gateway to lovely Lake Garda and it is here you can have a relaxing time sunbathing, sailing and enjoying mountain views and a more beach-style break.
Sights include Catullo Grotto the Gardone Riviera and Rive Del Garda. However by far one of my favourite experiences was a visit to the family owned Quintarelli vineyard. People come here from all over the world to buy fine wines and just a few days before a group of Canadians had been there to soak up the ambience and snap up bottles of wine at 250 a pop.
We went for lunch in a nearby Trattoria where the waiter, whose English was as limited as my Italian mimed the menu. He clucked and flapped wings and we guessed chicken and mooed and held his hand at knee height (veal). Hilarious.
I loved Verona and would definitely return. Its the perfect place for a celebration and to soak up some much-needed sun and maybe get a little luck in love from Juliet.
Monarch operates new flights to Verona, Dubrovnik, Venice and Milan from Manchester airport with fares, including taxes, starting from 40.99 one way (99.99 return). Seats can be pre-allocated on scheduled Monarch flights from 5.99 with extra legroom seats available from 9.99.
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