the socialite

Verona is calm and composed, sophisticated and gentle in an infectious way. Except, that is, for the small courtyard on Via Cappello, where you’ll find probably the most famous balcony in the world. I decide not to follow any particular itinerary on my first morning in the city and, without a specific goal in mind, I find myself behind a group of distinguished gentlemen who speak with a very strong regional accent. “When I was a child, that balcony never even existed”, one of them says.

They’re talking about Juliet’s balcony, attacked by tourists from all over the world and, frankly, far from the demure and elegant Verona I had the pleasure of acquainting myself with. Romeo and Juliet weren’t even real people, while Paolo Veronese, Titian and Giambattista Tiepolo most certainly were. I continue my stroll and, after walking past the queue, I cast my eyes on the majesty of this city.

Piazza Bra Verona
Piazza Bra
Please Verona
Please shop
Maurizio Righetti Verona
Beauty salon “Social by Maurizio Righetti”

The shadows of palaces draw dark lace patterns on the ground. With each step I discover a door behind which hides a cloister, a fountain, a mosaic. On Via Carlo Cattaneo I notice a smoked glass door from which the aroma of potpourri spills out, along with a couple carrying armfuls of suitcases. Just like that I discover my favourite place in Verona: The Gentleman of Verona.

This boutique hotel, nestled just a short walk from the Arena, is a timelessly refined and elegant little oasis. In the hotel’s lounges you can almost see men from times gone by smoking pipes and sipping brandy among retro velvet sofas and wallpaper with English motifs. I decide to spend my short lunch break in the hotel’s restaurant, the Bistrò Lounge, which is also accessible directly from Vicolo Miracoli.

Sitting on my comfortable armchair, I look avidly at the furniture, making a mental note of such good taste. I don’t stop even when presented with Norwegian salmon with chilli peppers and capers cooked by chef Lorenzo Cangelosi. A true delicacy.

Sadly, I won’t be ordering anything else, as I already have my next stop in mind. It would be a crying shame not to sample some Veronese sweets – the cherry on the cake of local cuisine. Verona is, after all, the birthplace of none other than the pandoro sweet bread.

Riot Clothing
Riot Clothing

Pasticceria Wallner bakery is one of Dante’s circles of hell for anyone with a sweet tooth. If I’m going to sin, this is where I want to do it – with an enormous slice of fantasy cake. A few steps from Piazza Bra, Vera Wallner mixes, moulds, whips and decorates cakes and sweets. It’s hard to tell what’s best: their beauty or their taste. The place has a relaxing and contemporary feel. Open from 7.30 a.m. to 8 p.m., it’s worth spending a few hours here in the afternoon sipping the mint tea available to customers in the big carafe on the counter. Try the mousse or the best local version of Viennese Sachertorte. With my serotonin levels through the roof (thanks to the chocolate), I’m ready to hit the shops.

The main shopping street, Via Mazzini, with its white marble paving and window displays from the best international fashion houses, is on a par with the grand metropolises. I’d even go as far as to say that the Veronese Louis Vuitton boutique, overlooking the Arena, has without doubt the most evocative location of any Louis Vuitton in any city in the world. Aside from the classic streets filled with fashion and luxury, the city has a lot more to offer.

Hidden Forest Market, for example, is a minimalist shop on Largo Pescheria Vecchia that stands out thanks to its vintage furniture. Its upcycled products are worthy of the trendiest Instagram profiles by Scandinavian bloggers. Its clothing ranges are by Korean designer Joy, who plays on original combinations of volumes and fabrics, with a penchant for horizontal stripes.

Riot Clothing, at 10 Via Filippini, is a must-see for anyone who puts fashion and consumer ethics on an equal footing. This workshop creates unique garments and accessories, reinventing waste materials and transforming them into objects of desire. Verona’s furniture and design are unrivalled.

Via Mazzini, Louis Vuitton
Via Mazzini, Louis Vuitton
Maurizio Righetti Verona
Beauty salon “Social by Maurizio Righetti”

Design stores always attract my attention. In Via San Nicolò I come across what at first sight looks like a temple of furniture and contemporary design. Social – Maurizio Righetti is in fact a beauty salon. I only realise when I step inside and smell the scent of lacquer, hear the noise of hairdryers and the chatter of beautiful ladies.

As I wait my turn, I stretch my neck to catch some snippets of the conversation among the ladies: “You haven’t heard of it? It’s inside Palazzo Castellani. Wooden ceilings, Amarone risotto… Don’t tell me you’ve never been, it’s so in at the moment!”. It would appear that the ladies are all dining at the Locanda Castelvecchio tonight. I take notes. I never miss a nugget of inside information like this, especially when my hair is dressed and ready to go.

If you’re not satisfied with a new hairdo, but also want to pamper the rest of your body, Suadis is the perfect spot. Its no-frills entrance on Viale dell’Industria, in the fair district, is misleading. It looks like any other beauty parlour, but the interior is a wonderful escape from reality through steam baths and soft lighting. A Finnish sauna and a humid bio-sauna await, as well as a Turkish bath, a salt bath and a wide range of massages and rituals to invigorate your body and mind.

Suadis also offers romantic wellbeing journeys for couples or for new mothers who want to get back into shape and regain their energy with natural products.

Hidden Forest Market
Hidden Forest Market
The Gentleman of Verona
The Gentleman of Verona, Salotto Bistrò

With a good dose of relaxation, a perfect hairstyle and the right outfit, all that remains for you to do now is to plunge yourself into Verona’s vibrant night-life. The city’s best view is found at the Hotel Due Torri, inside an impressive 14th century building. From the terrace on the hotel’s top floor, the view extends from Lamberti Tower to the Duomo, from San Pietro Castle to the Torricelle hills and the Adige river. Let your eyes take in the breath-taking spectacle. This is the perfect place for an aperitif or a romantic dinner.

For a fast, delicious meal of cold cuts, cheeses and excellent wine, on the other hand, my choice would be Enoteca Segreta, a small restaurant in the centre where you can also admire some well-preserved Roman ruins.

I am the sort of person who is always on the look-out for a place I can stay until late into the night and which is mainly frequented by locals. I’ve found it in the charming Vicolo Corte Cadrega, with wooden tables outside and good music. Osteria a la Carega is a peaceful spot in which to enjoy good conversation and excellent beer.

This is how I discover that Verona is two cities in one: the summer city of concerts in the Arena and squares illuminated by art, and the winter city of Amarone wine and welcoming restaurants. One of the best times to visit Verona is during the international “Vinitaly” fair with more than 4,000 exhibitors from vineyards all over the world. There’s also the popular “Tocatì” festival, when locals’ houses are transformed into real street restaurants, and the city smells of polenta and bollito di manzo beef stew.

My adventure in Verona has come to an end, but I know that I’ll soon return to this city, which has infected me, making me a little calmer and more composed, sophisticated and gentle.

di Veronica Gabbuti

other itineraries

  • the storyteller

  • the intellectual

  • the sporty type

  • the traveller