In the north of Italy, we find one of its crowning jewels, Verona. Lying east of Lake Garda, its location is one of the most spectacular in all the country. Dating back to the 1st Century, the city has a rich history which has been added to over the centuries making it the beautiful city we see today.
This renaissance romance has had the power to capture the imagination of thousands who have come to visit, however, no imagination is more noteworthy then Shakespeare’s. In a city of two halves divided by the Adige River, it became the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
With story-telling at its heart, there is no better place to lose ourselves in the passion or heart-ache of the opera in the evenings. We fill our days traveling out of the city, past the bell towers, terracotta roofs and stunning architectural bridges of the city to find some of the finest vineyards in the region. Here, we indulge in the light and fragrant tastes of Valpolicellas.
We visit the former home of Dante, where we taste some of the wines from this 30-hectare estate before we sample wines from one of the finest producers in Veneto. There is time to relax in the beautiful Giusti Gardens and in the town of Lazise on the banks of Lake Garda. We fill our days with wines for every palate and each night we celebrate with the sounds of the opera, this is truly a tour for all the senses.
We fly into Verona and meet as a group at our traditional 4* hotel, which is superbly situated in the heart of the city. Before we are transported by our first opera of the tour this evening, we will sit down to a delicious dinner at Tre Marchetti.
After breakfast, we head into the valleys of Valpolicella to enjoy our first wine visit of the trip. This very welcoming family run estate is now under the aegis of Sabrina, Antonietta and Ricardo, and their attention to detail in the vineyards means their wines – always extremely attractive due to superb winemaking – have reached another level of complexity over the past five years or so. From here, we continue to the delightful estate of Serego Alighieri, which is home to over 30 hectares of vines. It was once the home of poet Dante when he was banished from his native Tuscany. The fruit from here is vinified by their neighbours and partners, Masi, who are widely regarded as being among the finest producers in Veneto. We shall be guided through the picturesque grounds of this pretty villa and through the heady cellars before tasting a selection of their excellent wines over lunch at the estate. After lunch, we return to Verona mid-afternoon and there will be some free time to explore the area. From Juliet’s house and the San Zeno Romanesque church, to the beautiful oasis of tranquility that is the Giusti Gardens, there is much to be enchanted by here. After an independent dinner, we will see another rousing opera.
This morning, we head east out of Verona to the Soave region, where we will pay a visit to Pieropan. This winery produces world class wines of incredible complexity and we enjoy a tasting here as well as a visit to their cellars. Later, we continue on to Anselmi, owned and run by winemaker Roberto Anselmi, who is considered one of the most dynamic producers in the region. His passion for wine made with the Garganega grape led him to study clonal selection in great depth. During a delicious lunch at the Enoteca Realda – on the estate – we get to sample some of his incredible wines. In the afternoon, we return to Verona for some time to explore further at leisure.
Today, we drive into the Valpolicella hills to the small, modern winery of Ca La Bionda. Home to the Castellani family, who own these vineyards, the impressively smooth and elegant wines are presented to us during a tasting session. After, we move on to Guerrieri-Rizzardi, a wine estate that produces wines from Bardolino, which are lighter in style than their cherry scented Valpolicellas. Our visit will be accompanied by a tasting and glorious lunch on-site. Following our sampling, we head to the attractive town of Lazise on the banks of Lake Garda, where there is time to stroll beside the water or perhaps indulge in some delicious gelato. For our final night, we will be treated to one more stunning opera before returning to our hotel for the remainder of the evening.
A very special experience awaits us this morning as we have secured a backstage tour before we return to the airport and catch our return flight home.
Wine and whisky have been his focus for over 20 years. He has written for many prolific publications such as Harpers and Decanter magazines.