A gracious and atmospheric city in a bend of the Adige River, Verona is famously the hometown of the world’s most celebrated pair of star-crossed lovers. But it also offers superb museums — the Castelvecchio has a magnificent collection of Renaissance paintings — and splendid Roman ruins, notably the arena where the renowned opera is held each summer. Verona also demonstrates why Italy is such an inexhaustibly rewarding destination, since, more than in any other European country, its smaller cities are unfailingly beautiful.
Most prosperous Italian provincial cities have a distinguished if slightly dysfunctional old hotel such as the Due Torri Hotel. Verona’s leading property plays the part with a Napoleonic-style décor and Murano chandeliers. Our junior suite came with a sleigh bed, damask wallcovers, heavy curtains, a Directoire love seat and an enormous mirror. The bed was made up with crisply pressed linen sheets, but the bath was rather basic, with a wall-mounted shower in the tub, and drab commercial toiletries. Since the staff is pleasant and the hotel is well-located, this is the address I’d recommend in Verona, especially since we were not especially charmed by the Palazzo Victoria, a sister hotel to Il Salviatino in Florence — the 2011 Hideaway of the Year — but with very little of its elegance and character. Instead, the service was perfunctory and the contemporary décor slightly odd.
Verona is a wonderful food town. During the warm months, book a terrace table for dinner at the Osteria Ponte Pietra for fine views of the river. Recently, we dined exceptionally well on ravioli stuffed with Treviso (tight-headed radicchio) and cheese, and grilled steak with rosemary. Otherwise, Al Bersagliere is a terrific old-fashioned trattoria that serves hearty local dishes such as maccheroncini del Bersagliere — macaroni with beans and sausage in a light tomato sauce — and baccalà (salt cod) in caper sauce with grilled polenta. Servers are cordial, and there’s a superb list of Northern Italian wines. Finally, give Il Desco a miss. Despite having been inexplicably awarded two stars by the notoriously unreliable Italian Michelin Guide, it is stuffy, and the cooking is dull and expensive.
AT A GLANCE:
LIKE: Old-fashioned Old World glamour; strong feeling of involvement with the city’s history; wonderful linen sheets.
DISLIKE: Small, dated baths; inattentive porters.
GOOD TO KNOW: Request a room with a view in the original building.
DUE TORRI HOTEL, Rating 88. Deluxe King Room, $470; Junior Suite, $660. Piazza Sant'Anastasia 4, 37121 Verona. Tel.(39) 045-595044.
AT A GLANCE:
LIKE: Convenient central location; great bar; spacious public areas.
DISLIKE: Cool and anonymous service; small baths.
GOOD TO KNOW: The so-called “Junior Suites” really are junior.
PALAZZO VICTORIA, Rating 86. Grand Deluxe Room, $340; Junior Suite, $525. Via Adua 8, 37121 Verona. Tel. (39) 045-590566.