Verona – The Jewel on the Po River.


Vinitaly, an annual international wine fair, in Verona, attracts thousands of Italians and foreigners to the city. This professional wine fair, originally meant to promote Italian wines exclusively, seems to attract the attention of foreign wineries, particularly from Canada.

Anytime is good for an espresso in Verona, a traditionally wealthy city, where citizens enjoy life tot eh fullest. Veronese knock back their espresso in one mouthful while standing at the crowded counter of a small café. Italians don’t believe in fancy coffee shops a la Starbucks.

Over the centuries, Etruscans, Romans, Lombards, Franks, Venetians, French, Austrians crossed the Adige River in an attempt to make the city of their own.

Verona, with a population of approximately 275,000, is ideal for walking. At the heart of the city you will find the huge, elliptical coliseum, Italy’s best-preserved Roman theatre, still used fur musical and theatrical presentations. The broad Piazza Brais, is home to renaissance palazzi, an interesting museum, public gardens, cafés, and restaurants.

From here you can move from piazza to piazza, some smaller than others and more interesting.

Each Italian city boasts many piazzas, one more beautiful than the next. Just to make sure to protect you personal belongings while walking leisurely!

Piazza delle Erbe, the herb market and take the elevator to the top of the Torre dei Lamberti, to enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of the city.

Head over to Piazza dei Signori and visit arcades, balustrades and loggias adorning Romanesque, renaissance-style buildings and the statue of Dante Alighieri who spent some time in the city.

Next, go to the alcove where Juliet is supposed to have communicated with Romeo. It looks as if Veronese invented it to attract tourists to the city. (Venice a few hundred kilometres to the east attracts millions of tourists).

Then visit the Vinitaly grounds. The fair has many buildings usually devoted to a region or country. There is no crush in front of any booth. You will be well received and offered the wines being showcased. Generally, either the owner oft eh winery or the winemaker and often both are there to provide information. Availability is another aspect to explore. Italian wineries are infinitely smaller than their North American counterparts. Their inventories deplete quickly. Here you can literally explore all the important large and small wineries, make a point to pour their products in an attempt to increase sales.

Needless to say Canadian, French, Spanish, American, Australian, Chilean, Argentine, South African and New Zealand wineries are represented. Of late many Ontario wineries have been awarded a number of gold, silver and bronze medals for their varietal wines, not just icewines!

You cannot cover Vinitaly in one afternoon. Even tastings during the fair progress slowly. Take a break, and then return to the city.

On your way back cross Ponte Pietra, a stone bridge dating from Roman times, and admire its sturdiness. Look at another, smaller but equally interesting Roman amphitheatre.

As the sun sets, gentle lights appear. Verona has always had a special magic and Veronese are delightfully strange – conservative and progressive at the same time. It all depends on what they are dealing with.

You can eat and drink well in Verona, if you have enough funds to pay the somewhat higher prices. (Presently the Euro buys there a lot more than say in Germany).

Ristorante Il Desco (Via Dietro 7) is a fine, expensive restaurant serving local specialties for lunch and dinner.

Osteria a la Fontania (Portichetti Fontanella 3) is known for its excellent food but it is small and you may have to wait for a table.

Ristorante Locanda di Castelvecchio (Corso Cavour 49) Verona’s oldest osteria serves traditional dishes like bollito misto (boiled meats) with preserved fruits (mostarda).

Trattoria Tre Marchetti (Vicolo Tre Marchetti 19/B) serves wines and food since 1521. Try the pastissada de caval (horse meat stew), and be surprised how tasty it is when prepared expertly. The wine list is extensive with more than 360 labels.

There is no shortage of bars. All serve a range of local and international wines.

If you want to visit Venice from your base in Verona just hop on a train and in two hours or less you will be in this venerable city. Visit the most famous attractions and return to Verona for a dinner (much less expensive here than in Venice) and night cap.

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.