After breakfast, take leisurely guided walk around Verona, including the sixteenth-century Piazza Brà, familiar from last night’s opera jaunt, lined with terracotta-coloured houses and centred on a pretty little garden. We’ll also see the twelfth-century Palazzo del Comune, also known as the Palazzo della Ragione, the oldest city hall in Italy (which is quite some achievement) with its distinctive brick and stone striped walls and fine steps, the Casa dei Giudici, or Hall of Judges, with its swallowtail battlements, the frescos on the exterior walls of the Case dei Mazzanti and the Arco della Costa with its mysterious suspended whale rib. Not to mention fine Roman remains, elegant private palazzi and the views from the top of the 275ft-tall Lamberti Tower, originally a twelfth-century watchtower. Oh, and a certain balcony and courtyard, once owned by the Cappello family, with its bronze statue of Shakespeare’s heroine Juliet, rubbed for luck by a million hands and carrying the hopes of many a heart.
At the end of the morning, we take the funicular up to the architectural complex of Castel San Pietro, a place of religious and strategic importance dating back to the Romans, and enjoy the views. We will dine at nearby Ristorante Re Teodorico, named after the Ostrogoth king whose palace once occupied this site. Not only is the food delicious – elegantly updated traditional Veneto dishes – but we will dine out on the shady terrace with wonderful views of the city below, including the Arena with its memories of last night’s opera.
After lunch, we will descend back down to town for a very special treat arranged exclusively for our group. Delight in a private tour of the Biblioteca Capitolare, one of the oldest libraries in the world, which began as a fifth-century cathedral scriptorium and holds 1,200 manuscripts and around 70,000 books, over 5,000 of which date from the seventeenth century or earlier. Its contents are priceless – it’s honestly a bibliophile’s dream.
The rest of the day is free to do with what you will, and we will arm you with a Verona Pass to provide you with free access into an assortment of wonderful museums. We are more than happy to help with suggestions or with transport options – or you may feel like sitting in the piazza with a coffee!
Tonight, we don our most sumptuous outfits to enjoy a private gala dinner at the Palazzo Verità Poeta, a historic family house magnificently decorated in the eighteenth century and whose frescoed walls, ceiling paintings and terracotta-and-white chequerboard floors make a most glamorous setting for dinner. The main architect was probably the theatrical designer Antonio Galli Bibiena, - we visited the theatre he designed in Mantua - who commissioned several artists to decorate the walls no less than six elaborately frescoed rooms. There are fine views over the city from its upper balcony as well. If you are not in love yet with Verona, this exclusive cultural opportunity should capture your heart.