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Verona, Italy

After our rapid-fire descent into Verona Airport, and one – very brief – taxi journey later, it was time to set out and explore Verona.

I always find first impressions set the tone for me in a big way, and I was immediately impressed by Verona – it comes across, in spite of its ever-growing popularity as a major tourist destination, as still something of a quaint, smaller and traditional Italian city.

As I mentioned in the review of our very centrally-located hotel, the Albergo Mazzanti, we were just steps away from the somewhat touristy Piazza delle Erbe, with its majestic plaza and overpriced eateries.

Piazza delle Erbe, Verona

But on the other side, it felt like you were never farther than about a 3-minute walk to a more traditional and far less tourist-focused butcher shop, or a wine shop, or somewhere else where only really locals seemed to be. Verona is just full of little side streets that in themselves empty out into even narrower alleys.

Butcher Shop, Verona

We found the whole city to be very much a place for putting on the walking shoes and just exploring – by complete chance, and with very little knowledge of where we were going other than to take a post-prandial adventure, we found ourselves easily wandering along the narrow shopping streets, unexpectedly arriving at the amphiteatre and the wide open spaces of Piazza Brà.

Verona City

Another easy find, just down the opposite end from our hotel was the magnificent – and fully functional (in fact, there was a service on when we arrived) – Basilica di Santa Anastasia, with its stunning design and splendour inside.

Basilica di Santa Anastasia

A walk along the river eventually led to our curiosity being piqued as we stared up at St. Pietro castle – and, after briefly stopping en-route for a drink (great city by the way for stopping along the way for a beverage, before continuing your unplanned tour), we marched across the beautiful Ponte Pietra and across to the other side.

From there, we easily found our way up the steps to the viewing point, where – surprise – you can easily find Aperol Spritz’ on sale right by the funicular station, all while taking in the wonderful view of the architecturally beautiful city below.

View of Verona from St. Pietro Castle

Overall, our best tour of Verona was entirely done by unplanned, self-guided wandering – and I’d recommend no other way, if you’re heading for a visit.

Next morning meanwhile, we had different plans and they involved getting an uber (not to be recommended, but taxi’s were impossible to come by due to a city carnival taking place) up into the hills to visit a real-life vineyard, for what begun as a tour of the vineyard and an overview on how to make wine. All important stuff, of course…

Vineyard tour, Verona

But not half as important as what came next, which was tasting the fruits of all that hard labour! And just look at the view of Verona from up in the hills – amazingly, only about a 10 – 15 minute drive from the city centre.

Verona from the hills!

Overall, we really enjoyed our quick visit to Verona and would love to go back and do some more unplanned, exploration. It was the perfect city for a relaxing weekend of sightseeing, and well worth a visit – though maybe soon, given how many tourists were already there and before the word gets truly out.

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Former expat now returned to Ireland, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.

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