Why travel to just one incredible Italian city when you could spend your holiday visiting two? With regular flights into and out of many Italian destinations and fantastic public transport options across the country, it’s easy to turn your city break into a chance to live more of the dolce vita in Italy.
Not only are Verona and Venice both associated with romance, but you can also plan a side trip to Lake Garda to enjoy another beautiful destination. Read on for some inspiration on such an Italian itinerary and how to plan it.
Romeo and Juliet’s Verona-based romance may have been ill-fated, but your experience of this pretty city in northern Italy is sure to be much more successful. Spend your time meandering through the medieval lanes of the city centre, coming across picture-perfect piazzas, tempting cafes and smart boutiques.
Verona has been an important place for many centuries and there is plenty of evidence of its significance in Roman times still present to this day. The most impressive of which is the Roman Arena – a huge amphitheatre that could rival the Coliseum – where opera performances are still staged during the summer months.
The sights you may wish to visit during your time in Verona are made up of quite an eclectic mix. They include Torre dei Lamberti, a tower dating back to 1172 and offering panoramic views of the city; Casa di Guilietta, complete with Juliet’s famous balcony; and the Scalinger Tombs, elaborate final resting place of the 14th-century rulers.
Verona lies just off to the east of the southern end of Lake Garda. As it’s the biggest of the Italian lakes, you won’t be able to explore all of it in a day trip, but you can definitely get a feel for this celebrity favourite. The lakeside town of Desenzano del Garda is just a short distance away and trains leave regularly from the Porta Nuova Station in Verona. The journey takes just 20 minutes, so you’ll be within sight of the lake in no time. Alternatively, there are buses that depart for many of the other lakeside destinations.
The topography of the southern part of Lake Garda is relatively flat when compared with the northern section. Despite this, you can still obtain some good views, especially if you climb the winding streets of Desenzano up to its historic castle. Now open to the public, it is everything you think of when it comes to castles, with towers, crenulations and a drawbridge.
Back down in the town, you’ll find a tranquil harbour and a larger marina, both of which are lined with bars, restaurants and cafes. Whether you’re looking for a laidback afternoon meal or a more lively evening affair, there’s plenty of places to choose from and watch the world go by. Take up the Italian art of the passeggiata – an evening stroll – to help digest and greet everyone who walks by.
If you have more time or wish to hire a car, then you could easily extend your visit and explore the wonderful destinations surrounding Lake Garda.
Getting to Venice from Verona couldn’t be much more convenient, with the high-speed Alta Velocita (AV) trains taking an hour and ten minutes. With 72 departures a day, there’s bound to be one that suits you and it will transport you from the Porta Nuova Station in Verona right to the Santa Lucia Station in Venice.
Everyone should see Venice at least once in their lives. It is an enchanting city that seems to float on its canals and has more beautiful bridges and hidden squares than you could ever explore on a holiday. Venture into the little off-the-beaten-track churches and be rewarded with stunning artworks and find neighbourhood wine bars around every corner.
It’s worth getting a pass to visit multiple sights, museums or churches, depending on your taste, as you’re likely to spend a lot of time in these world-class attractions. There are various options available, so work out what you realistically want to go and visit. While Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco are likely to be the highlights of your trip, be sure to find your own corner of Venice too. A water taxi across the lagoon will take you to some wonderful little places.