We head from the Lake Como region east towards the ancient town of Verona, not too far for Australians to travel but our driver Maurizio recommended a coffee stop at an AoutoGrill which is an amazing experience and some of the best coffee in Italy can be found at these "service stations" on steroids and then a stop at Lake Garda to break up the 2 hour trip.
Well, what a surprise was Sirmione!
What a beautiful, ancient village, complete with moat and courtyard, and then the lovely little village surrounding the castle was a shoppers paradise. This was a great spot to take a break and soak up the history. There was about 50 Gelato shops with the biggest gelato I have ever seen so it was very touristy, but don't worry about that, just soak up the beauty that is Sirmione. I will be back one day!
Arriving in Verona is always exciting, with the ancient walls surrounding the city welcoming you to the city like an old friend. Arriving at our Hotel Palazzo Victoria we realise that we are in the heart of the city, right beside one of the ancient Roman gates and a 3 minute walk to the hustle and bustle of Piazza Erbe - just perfect. Tonight, we dine at undoubtedly the most famous restaurant in Verona
the 12 Apostles. It was a fabulous experience. The staff were attentive and so proud of the food they presented to us, it was outstanding. To top the night off, we were lucky enough to tour the cellar with the restaurant owner. A very modest man who explained that his family were all working in the business and had been for generations and then he showed us the most amazing ruins that they had discovered in 1989 which, it turns out, are the outer edges of the magnificent Arena. The ruins were incredible, simply incredible.
This morning we meet our guide Alessandra who takes great delight in showing is and explaining the best attractions Verona has to offer. The magnificent Castevecchio, the home of the famed Romeo, the mausoleums of some the most famous Veronese, the magnificent Arena and of course the infamous balcony of Giulietta! How surprising it was to find out that the balcony was a prop (a sarcophagus in fact) for a Romeo and Juliet movie! Oh well, it is still a must see on any visit to Verona.
After we leave Alessandra, we have some free time to explore the city. A walk along the Fiume Adagio and we at the ancient Roman Theatre - madnificent! With a bit of effort, we climb to the top of Verona!
Now, it's time for Proscco and a well earned lunch at one of the many cafes near the Duomo and a paseggiatta through the markets in Piazza Erbe. This is always a great place to find some inexpensive souvenirs to take home to family and friends. Tonight, we explore and find a trattoria for a Spritz Aperol and pasta for dinner!
Today we asked Maurizio to drive us out of the city to take a look at the countryside. He said he had a few ideas for us and boy, what a great spot to spend a few hours. After winding our way through the the vineyards that produce the famous Soave and Amarome wines, we end up in a beautiful lakeside
village called Lazise. Meandering along Lake Garda (the other side to Sirmione) this town boasts a 12th century church and many other Romanesque buildings. Every turn is a postcard and we all took
some great shots of this radiant town. Luckily for us, there was also a huge array of shops to wander through, leather, and souvenirs were the purchases for the morning.. By 10am, it was time for caffe oh and a couple of Spritz! We are certainly settling in to the Italian way of life.
Back to Verona to spend the afternoon as we please with one stop at a local supermarket. Yep, if you travel to Italy, you MUST visit a supermarket, the displays, array of foods are amazing and well worth a look. One last walk down the beautiful marble streets lined with the most famous of shopping brands, then off for a final spritz and dinner inVerona, followed by my favourite gelato in Italy. How pretty!