A LOCAL'S GUIDE TO VERONA
Verona is one of the most exciting cities in Italy and among our favourite gastronomic destinations. We caught up with Irene, who provided her local's insights on how to best explore the city and its food scene
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Klara Kulikova
25 February 2021
Verona is without a doubt a destinations for foodies. Known for the incredible dining scene, the city never fails to surprise travellers with tasty pasta dishes, century-old recipes that require fresh ingredients and exciting modern twists to irresistible Italian classics. Local wines are combined with regional fruits and vegetables complimenting every meal with an authentic Italian taste. Whether you grab a quick bite to eat while exploring the piazzas or you have booked a restaurant reservation, Verona is the ultimate gastronomic destination for European trevellers.
Perhaps the Shakespeare associations are among of the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about exploring Verona. The Renaissance fame of this northern Italian gem leaves a nostalgic feeling of déjà vu in every escapist with appreciation for culture and cuisine. The architecture in the city is beyond compare - from detailed facades of numerous churches to the 1st-century Roman amphitheatre and the exterior of the buildings surrounding the alleyways in the Old Town. There are so many ways to explore the city, but in this insider guide we help you plan the ultimate trip to this Italian paradise.
NOMADSofORIGIN's editor-in-chief caught up with Irene Grigoli, who provides insider tips on how the locals best enjoy the city. Spend a night out in the trendiest bars, dine like a true Italian in the modern restaurants and explore the historic scene that Verona has to offer.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What are your favourite coffee shops in Verona?
Irene: Unfortunately there’s no speciality coffee shops yet. Italians still think that burnt coffee is the best (laughs). I anyway recently found out about a Roastery in Verona, called Garage Coffee Bros. I’ve been there last August and had a lovely chat with one of the owners, Davide Cobelli. He’s definitely one of the Speciality coffee pioneers in Verona. He shared with me a lovey V60 and gave me free coffee to bring here in the UK. If you’re happy with a typical Italian espresso, any little bars in town offer that kind of coffee. I recommend Caffè Borsari, a tiny cute little coffee shop with a lot going on inside, super cluttered. I also had a pleasant experience in Caffè Tosca.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What about favourite restaurants?
Irene: Uuuh, I have loads but in my top three there are:
1. Alcova del Frate. A bit pricey but totally worth it as all the products are the best quality. Open kitchen (which is a plus) and a wide selection of fine wine. Even Sarah Jessica Parker had dinner there.
2. Le cantine dell’arena. Very close to the Arena, the restaurant is actually underground. I’ve had the best meat dishes there. Great wine and nice selection of cocktails. On Fridays they have Jazz night. Just perfect.
3. Pescheria i Masenini. Pricey. Very. But the fish... so fresh. The service on point. They whole experience is just perfect. For more affordable options, literally any Osteria or Trattoria won’t disappoint.
For aperitif, I recommend Osteria Caffè Monte Baldo, where they also have a super tasty selection of little finger food, normally slices of bread with super fresh and inviting toppings (it’s super typical in Venice as well, they call them Cicchetti); anyway most of the osterias offer this kind of aperitif. Other super cute and cozy osterias are in the area called Sottoriva. Lovely vibes there and great location.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What Italian dish we should definitely try?
Irene: When it’s homemade, any pasta dish. Literally any. Lasagna is definitely a winner (which is also called Pasticcio in Verona), Polenta e osei (it also exists a dessert version of this... so good), carne e pearà, trippe, risotto al radicchio, risotto all amarone... all traditional dishes from Verona.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What are the must see places and things to do in the city?
Irene: I’m gonna list some locations:
Arena di Verona
My fave one is Sant’Anastasia Castelvecchio Teatro Romano Ponte Pietra Torricelle. You need a car to get there, but the view...
Walk, walk, walk. The town centre is pedestrian friendly and all the cool places are nearby. No need to take public transport.
Venice Berg: absolutely the coolest place for coolest people.
The Soda Jerk: speakeasy run by awesome bartenders.
Piazza Erbe: for the pre-night out/dinner, people gather there, sipping wine or Aperol Spritz and slowly getting tipsy.
Archivio: cute tiny bar with a great selection of cocktails.
Malacarne: weird, funny, easy-going bar.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What is the coolest thing about Verona?
Irene: It’s just so beautiful, like a smaller version of Rome but not as overwhelming and cleaner. Food and wine. Fashion (even though Italians don’t like to experiment as much as English people do). New little independent business to discover, especially in the university area.
NOMADSofORIGIN: What should travellers pack for a holiday in Italy?
Irene: Depends on the season. We have proper seasons in Verona. Pretty cold winter sometimes and extremely hot summers (40 degrees last year). Lake Garda is nearby, don’t forget. If you need anything, you have the right excuse to do some shopping in Via Mazzini. Definitely leave some space in the suitcase for food that you’re gonna buy there, lol.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Are there any new shops and places you haven't been to yet but can't wait to visit when you go home?
Irene: Definitely! As I mentioned, there are more and more small independent businesses in the university area. Here’s some places that
I’ll visit: Grande Giove Cocktail Bar
NOMADSofORIGIN: How would you sum up Italy in a sentence?
Irene: You can smell real food there (laughs).