Whenever we're booking a trip away we love to make use of Skyscanners 'Explore' function.
Most years we go away in January, it's Simon's birthday so it gives us something to look forward to after Christmas.
This year I got us an amazing deal on flights with Ryanair, for great flight deal make sure to check out Chloe's Deal Club on insta. For £25 each I got us return flights to Bergamo, a short drive from Milan.
Our plan was either to head to Milan or to have a quiet few days in Bergamo, we've visited both before so I knew what to expect.
Instead Simon suggested we travel a short distance to Verona to experience something new.
I don't know what I had expected really, but whatever it was, I would have been way off the mark. Having visited Florence, Pisa and Venice I thought it would be much the same - however the vibe was totally different and I loved it!
Upon arriving in Bergamo we booked bus tickets to Verona through Flixbus in the airport, this was a little bit of a faff, but if you knew to go to a Flixbus counter it would be much easier. These were €25 each way for us, so dearer than your average Airport transfer - but it's by far the easiest way to go about the journey.
Once off the bus - it's around an hour in total - we walked for around 15 mins into the centre of Verona. Ordinarily, I'd use this chance to get excited about my trip and point out spots we want to visit - however I had chosen to wear a pair of trainers from Primark that in the year I've owned them haven't given me a single bit of bother, this time though I was hobbling along and holding back genuine tears. I spent all weekend popping no fewer than ten blisters, but we can gloss over this and my stupid footwear choices.
Verona is your typical Italian city, with the cobbled streets and tall, colourful buildings complete with plants and foilage tumbling from the balconies and filling each passage with colour.
Verona is also a bloody nightmare to navigate as it's a total maze and we kept going in circles without understanding how. That's no criticism though, as much as we'd both put together destination lists on TripAdvisor, we don't plan out our trip in order to do a specific number of things each day as it usually ends with one of us being disappointed.
So for our weekend we slept in, drank too much and spent our days wandering the streets, popping into shops (s/o to the security man In Zara for shouting at me for my brolly dripping on his floor) and just enjoying each others company. It sounds cheesy, but it's quite rare at home that we take time to properly enjoy each other, so it was a great chance to remind each other of things we've done before and make new memories.
Straight away we were struck by how clean the city is, each pavement was super clean and bright and not a single bit of litter was left kicking around. We were a short walk to our AirBnB, a cute little studio flat that despite its location was very decently priced.
It was a super simple process to check in and a really enjoyable base for our trip.
As I said before, we're definitely wanderers on holiday, there's very little planning that goes into our trips, Verona is an amazing city for this.
Granted it's very mazelike and I'd find it difficult now to navigate through the labyrinth of cobbled streets, but we accidentally managed to hit most of the places on our shortlist!
So where should you check out?
1. Porto Leoni.
One of my absolute must-sees.
An ancient gate, it was built when Verona was officially classed as a municipum - Latin for a town or city, and so had fully formed streets, sewers and city walls.
The remains of the original structure can still be seen beneath the later masonry addition in 1 AD.
We stumbled across it one night by accident, and knew we had to go back in the daytime. On the street there are sections of excavation work where parts of the original structures are visible.
Even just to marvel at the integrity of the Roman architecture or to wonder at what may have been in this very spot it's certainly worth a look.
From its unassuming frontage onto a side street, it just looks like a tiny bar, but once inside it opens up to what feels like a 1970s living room. This may have been my favourite place we visited, as we were made to feel super welcome even from our first visit.
Beautifully mismatched and filled to the brim with bottles of any liquid you can possibly imagine, their speciality was their cocktails.
By the time we flew home, I think I was almost certainly 20% Tangerine. Made from a concoction including gin and sambuca it certainly packed a punch, but the addition of the mandarin juice made it super refreshing and moreish.
I think we were about €11 for a pint of lager and one of these each time which is pretty decent. By the time Sunday night rolled around we'd built a bit of a rapport with the barmen with my introducing them to Biffy Clyro;
"Eh we don't usually take requests..."
"You do tonight!"
We found out that they're hoping to travel to Scotland later in the year to take part in a run in Speyside so have told them to get in touch.
The super relaxed environment and cool vibe just solidified itself as one of my favourite spots and I'd suggest that anybody went.
3. The Soda Jerk
Quite a stark contrast to Archivo with regards to decor, clientele and vibe.
The speakeasy-style bar is accessible by ringing a bell from the main road and waiting to be let in. Our first visit was pretty early in the evening so we had it more or less to ourselves, slightly more expensive than Archivo, cocktails were around €9/10 and they had a list of around ten to choose from. I wasn't feeling particularly adventurous and so went off-menu with a Vodka Martini, and to be fair it was cracking.
We came back here on our last night and again we had a lovely time, it was pretty busy and I went for a Gringo cocktail which appeared with a snail shell on top of it - so that was horrific!
If you wanted to have a night out where you visited more high end bars, then this is certainly for you.
4. Cafe Fillipini
After we arrived in Verona we had ditched our bags and set out to explore, obviously the first port of call is to find somewhere we could get a glass of wine.
Based in Piazza Erba a short walk from our apartment, Cafe Fillipini was in the middle of a long row of bars with tables and chairs spilling onto the square.
As we sat under one of their heat lamps we were served our wine by an older waiter who we saw repeatedly during our trip. The great thing about drinking in Italy is that you get fed too, on our first round we were given huge, gorgeous olives and a dish of crisps, while on the second we got slices of crusty bread topped with cream cheese and meats - divine.
This is the ideal spot to just sit and watch the world go by, we love to spot dogs - especially ones in jackets - so this was perfect for us!
There were little market stalls outside too, so we made sure to wander round these and picked up a couple of little bits and pieces.
We didn't sit inside but nipped in for the loo, while the ladies was beautifully decorated and an arguably decent spot to spend a penny, the gents featured a squat toilet which was a real source of horror for Simon!
5. The Duomo
Wherever we go I always like the visit their churches, there's something so gorgeous about European cathedrals.
The Duomo as it stands today was built on the site of two older churches which had been destroyed in an earthquake in 1117.
With Verona at the epicentre, much of the very early structures were damaged or destroyed; by 1187 the new, much larger cathedral had been consecrated. An incredible aspect of the cathedral is how much of the original structure still exists below ground level.
With raised walkways throughout the cathedral and courtyard, there was an amazing amount of archeological remains preserved.
Even mosaic flooring remained intact, it made you think that just a little drop of polish would bring them back to their original state.
Split into three main churches, the largest of the three was possibly the most incredible thing I'd seen.
Having undergone renovations in the 15th century, the marble flooring and intricately carved benches highlight the opulence the Catholic church is renowned for.
Whether or not you're of faith, the Duomo should be on your list.
Have you been to Verona? Let me know if you have the same highlights as me!