Why Verona Makes The Perfect Pre-Christmas Getaway

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Just a two-hour flight from London, Camille Allcroft recommends Verona, Italy as the perfect destination for a pre-Christmas, romantic getaway

Verona embraces Christmas with typical Italian style and the festive season is a magical time to visit – when the city is festooned with elaborate decorations and fir trees draped with dainty lights twinkle along the cobbled streets. There’s even a good chance of some snow.

We stayed at the luxurious Palazzo Victoria, a five-star hotel which dates back to the Middle Ages. Today, the hotel effortlessly blends history with modernity and original frescoes are visible alongside contemporary interior design by Italian designer and architect Gaetano Pesce. There is a sense of opulence in the 74 rooms and suites thanks to marble bathrooms, antique furnishings and handmade Italian linens and everything needed for a comfortable stay is on hand.

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After a light lunch of cicchetti and Prosecco in the hotel’s chic Victoria Lounge e Café, we set off to explore the Christmas markets (Open from 18 November to 26 December). Visitors flock to the markets every year and there was an infectious sense of excitement in the air as we browsed quaint stalls of wooden toys and ceramics on Piazza Brà and gourmet treats at the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ on Piazza dei Signori.

This is a great place to enjoy a taste of Italy and we sipped dangerously delicious vin brulè (Italian mulled wine often made with local Valpolicella) and feasted on fresh panettone, Pecorino and wood fired bread dipped in black truffle oil as we shopped the many stalls.

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Later we had dinner at Palazzo Victoria’s signature restaurant Borsari 36, where Executive Chef Carmine Calò showcased creative dishes made with local produce such as cannolo with ricotta and pumpkin and risotto with pear and raspberry, while the open kitchen added a touch of theatre to the evening.

Tour operator Veronality offer various sightseeing trips in the region including cookery classes and food and wine tours, and the next day they whisked us off for a classic car and wine experience in Valpolicella. We wound our way along country roads in style in a vintage Rolls Royce, marvelling at sweeping views of the valley which unfurled around us as we ascended in to the hills.

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The Zýmē winery founded by Celestino Gaspari is one of the most renowned wineries in the region and we tasted their excellent Amarone, matured in the underground barrel cellar which has sandstone walls and a natural spring. Lunch at traditional slow food restaurant Enoteca della Valpolicella proved to be an extravaganza of bold flavours – burrata with apple and mustard and wafer thin truffle ravioli were just some of the highlights and we rounded off the meal with a rich tiramisu.

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Palazzo Victoria makes an intimate hideaway for a luxurious stay in Verona and there is so much to do in the area, from visiting the Roman amphitheatre to shopping on Corso di Porta Borsari or dining in the many exceptional restaurants. The central position of this enchanting city makes it the ideal base from which to explore the region, with both Milan and Venice within an hour’s drive and Lake Garda and the Dolomites nearby for sightseeing and skiing.

Make it happen
Classic Collection Holidays (0800 047 1064; classic-collection.co.uk) offers 3 nights at Hotel Palazzo Victoria from £444-£1189 pp during 2018.

Prices based on 2 adults sharing B&B with return flights from London Gatwick. Veronality offer a variety of tailor made, private and group excursions including cookery classes, food and wine tours, vintage car and Vespa tours and more.

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