Verona and Beyond
Shakespeare’s tragic lovers, Romeo and Juliet, brought Verona legendary status, but the city offers much more than their infamous (and fictitious) balcony. Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies at the foot of the Lessinia Mountains in the heart of Northern Italy’s Veneto region. It’s a Mecca for food lovers and home to some of the friendliest, most approachable producers in the world.
Every corner of the country boasts its own spin on traditional Italian cuisine, but Verona’s dishes stand out as exceptional. The Veronese menu is often centered around meat, but fresh pasta, polenta, the regional rice “Vialone nano,” and delicious wines round out the eating experience. We’ll embark on a full-flavored journey of the Veneto that will leave you in awe of the variety Northern Italy has to offer.
This trip is designed for both the novice or experienced traveler. A passion for great food and wine, and an eagerness to experience them within the framework of the region’s rich culinary culture and local history is nice to have, too.
Our guests are adults of all ages who enjoy long walks and exploring. We keep the group small: 12 guests maximum. A Zingerman’s host will be your main guide as well as the help of some local guides along the way.
What About Accommodations?
You will be staying in a lovely 4-star hotel, conveniently located in the heart of Verona. It has a small bar and sitting room as well as a spacious area for the generous buffet breakfast. It is near many small cafes, bars, and restaurants with outdoor seating, should you find yourself a free moment to relax.
Amazing food – all breakfasts, most lunches, and several dinners. All the food will be traditional, regional specialties made with local, fresh ingredients.
Behind-the-scenes visits with artisanal producers, local farmers, and hands-on cooking experiences with noted chefs.
Visits to some of the Veneto’s most traditional and exciting food & wine producers, old and new, along with day trips into the surrounding hills, mountains, and Lake Garda. We’ll explore vineyards and learn from some of the area’s most passionate artisanal food and winemakers.
A Zingerman’s tour host and our guides will be at your disposal at all times.
Hotel accommodations for 7 nights.
What’s Not Included?
Alcoholic beverages that are not specifically included in the itinerary.
A few meals (notes in the itinerary); this is an opportunity for you to explore on your own (suggestions provided!).
Personal spending money
Verona welcomes you.
After checking into our hotel, we’ll convene in the early evening for introductions and a proper Italian aperitivo.
An enticing welcome dinner at one of Verona’s most charming, easy-going, local restaurants will follow. This is your chance to get to know your fellow travelers and ease into the Italian rhythm.
After a good night’s rest and breakfast at the hotel, we’ll start our day with a walking tour of the city itself. Stepping into the rich history with a local guide, we’ll embark on a stroll through town, our home for the next 7 days. We’ll see Juliet’s house, the amphitheater and some of Verona’s most celebrated architectural sites.
After lunch, we’ll head back to the hotel for a short rest before heading up into the mountains for a late afternoon cooking class with our local chef, Giovanni and his wife, Elisa, a wine sommelier. Located in Velo Veronese, a small village of some 700 inhabitants well off the beaten path, this is a well-kept mountain secret. This lovely family has graciously offered to welcome us into their kitchen for a lesson in hyperlocal cuisine of the Lessinia region: an experience and landscape you’ll not soon forget.
The morning begins with a hands-on pizza class at Saporè, home to one of the region’s most accomplished chefs, Renato Bosco. We’ll learn what makes this pizza so special and we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor (obviously) for lunch along with some local beers.
A quick bus ride to the Melotti Rice farm, located in the town of Isola della Scala, south of the city center will follow. Along the drive, you’ll see the landscape change as we transition from the hilly territory into the flatlands, where Italy’s best-known rice fields stretch for kilometers across the horizon.
You’ll learn about the local rice grown in the region, both indigenous and experimental varieties. We'll enjoy a full tour of the farm, experiencing the complete rice production process, before retiring to the nearby Risotteria Melotti for an early dinner from a tasting menu of various risottos paired with local wines.
After a light breakfast at our hotel, we’ll meet our Italian wine expert, Bernardo Conticelli. Bernardo will spend the next two days with us, exploring the local vineyards and sharing his expertise. Our first visit will be with Quintarelli, one of the most celebrated producers in this area. After a tour and private tasting, we’ll make our way onto their terrace for a picnic lunch overlooking the beautiful valley and rolling vineyards.
(If you wish to learn a little more about Quintarelli beforehand, here is a wonderful, slightly technical article written by American wine importer Kermit Lynch.)
The next winery we’ll visit today is a biodynamic beauty located just outside of the city. Stationed in a rural court from the 16th century, the beautiful estate of Musella, will shower us with attention as we visit their vineyards and tasting room.
That evening we’ll head back to Verona and let you write the next chapter of your adventure. Verona is a lively and energetic city that begs to be explored. We have a long list of dining suggestions and activities to recommend - or you can choose to relax and practice your Italian.
Don’t eat too much breakfast this morning. Today is all about cheese and we’re starting early! We’ll head into the Soave area to visit a family-run Veronese cheese producer, La Casara. Giovanni, one of the brothers leading the creamery, will illustrate their particular cheesemaking methods and lead us behind the scenes of their facilities. We’ll enjoy a light lunch of their award-winning cheeses and artisanal salamis, paired with local wines before diving deeper into vineyard territory.
In the heart of Soave country, we will visit our next winery, Suavia, owned and operated by three sisters whose classic and experimental white wine varietals have earned them accolades from all the experts.
After this action-packed day, we’ll take a break at the hotel and enjoy some last minute shopping before heading into the hills to tour Cordioli Olive Grove & Private Estate. We will ease into the evening learning about olive cultivation and how to taste extra virgin olive oils with co-owner Ceil, an olive oil sommelier, before watching the sunset over the valley with an aperitivo in hand.
When the sun sets, we’ll head back down to the city center for dinner at one of Verona’s finest seafood restaurants, Al Capitan della Cittadella, where chef/owner Andrea Manzoli prepares fish primarily from the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas. In fact, he will take us on a culinary “market tour” of six small courses, allowing us to sample the very best of that day’s seasonal selection
With sleepy eyes and adventurous spirits, we’ll make our way to Enoteca della Valpolicella for a welcome coffee and a brief introduction to the two lovely women who own and operate this special restaurant. When they founded the Enoteca more than twenty years ago, owners Ada and Carlotta set out to create food that pairs with wines: a radical notion (usually it’s wine being paired with food), but an interesting philosophy that recognizes the vital importance of each.
Our pasta making lesson is very interactive, so prepare to knead and roll!
After our class we’ll take a short break and a lovely walk around the estate before sitting down to sample the fruits of our labors, as well as other seasonal dishes accompanied by a fine selection of white and red wines from the Veronese territory.
The remaining daylight hours are yours to utilize for any last-minute shopping. Enjoy the night off, have a drink or two in town and make your own memories (of course we can offer some suggestions and help make reservations as needed).
For our last day, we’ll start on the sweet side of things. We’ll learn about one of Italy’s most unique baked goods, the infamous Panettone! Infermentum is the name of the producer we’ll visit. They’re small, local and make some of the best tasting panettones we’ve ever had. You’ll see and taste the wide variety they offer and no doubt feel the passion and dedication that goes into such products.
After this sweet morning, we will have a short break at the hotel before heading up to Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake and home to several varieties of delectable fresh-water fish as well as vineyards peppering the coastline. We will take a boat ride to get a sense of the lake’s grandeur and see the dramatic mountain landscape behind it. We’ll sunset lakeside, aperitivo in hand, followed by a dinner of lake fish and other local delicacies with locally produced wines like Lugana and Bardolino.
Today we say arrivederci and make our way home, with full hearts and bellies.
*One thing to note: this itinerary is the current plan, and, things may change. We will make every effort to provide the tours and experiences that are described above. However, the nature of the places we’ll be visiting — not typical tourist destinations — means that plans may change at the last minute. Also, you always have the option of skipping a particular excursion, but please note that we will be unable to make refunds for any missed meals or other events.