Notes to Savor: April in Verona

By Jessica Granatiero

Ciao friends!

I just returned home from my beloved country, Italy, specifically the city of Verona, often referred to as the City of Love. With my colleague Tülay, I spent five days there for the most prominent Italian wine industry event, VinItaly. It’s a four-day gathering where thousands of wine producers and industry and consumer guests converge on the beautiful city of Verona, bringing the Italian wine world together. Our hotel, Hotel Milano, with the most exceptional service, was a stone’s throw away from the famed Arena and Piazza Bra, a place where we took up residence every afternoon for aperitivo and people watching.

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This was my third time in Verona and at VinItaly; however, it brought about the same excitement and exhilaration as if it were la prima volta (the first time.) VinItaly marks a time to reconnect with wine producers whom we know, and make meaningful connections with new wineries. The all-day event, from 9:30 AM to 6 PM, gave us the opportunity to taste tried and true wines and new rising stars. Additionally we were lucky to attend Opera Wine, a kick off event in which producers from Sardegna, to Piedmont, to Alto Adige and beyond, show off one of their top rated wines by Wine Spectator. 

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VinItaly is a city within a city, just outside the walls of Verona, with producers occupying more than 10 halls, each larger than the size of a football field. A concerted plan of appointments is needed in order to make our way through the event. A fly-by-the-seat of your pants schedule will not work due to its grandiosity.

Pop up restaurants abound, including the Michelin-star La Ciau del Tornavento from Piedmont, where we had a beautiful experience. The euphony of guests’ voices gave me chills. No doubt the captivating city of Verona added to the allure of the event. The city was brimming until all hours of the night with music, people and events. The first night before the fair, with a little jet lag, we dined at Antica Bottega del Vino, a restaurant with a cellar beneath that would blow the mind of any wine lover. The lavish collection boasted some of the top wines in all of Europe, not just Italy. The Bistecca that we shared was enough for four people despite the menu saying “sharing for two.” We chose a Valpolicella wine from a wine producer we didn’t know. That’s always a joy – trying something outside of the typical. We left sated naturally. I could go back there every day.

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Outside the grounds of the fair, the days ended with late night dinners with our wine producer friends. It was quite common to sit down at 9:30 PM, the evening culminating in smiles, laughter, and even an operatic performance. The energy was all encompassing. I cannot possibly choose a favorite moment, as they all were filled with a symphony of excitement. From the first night front and center in the city at Caffè Dante Bistrot, to Trattoria Tre Marchetti with its impromptu opera performance, to our last night at Ristorante Beluga, which boasts the same name as the caviar, Beluga. The cameriere (waiter) showed us his cutting prowess with the whole fish Branzino. Each culinary activity impressed us, but it was our company who made it top notch.

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Home of Romeo and Juliet, the city exudes passion, and I can see why it is often referred to as the City of Love with common sights of people arm and arm. The famed balcony of Romeo and Juliet brought an ever-present crowd of people. Put an adventure to this city on your bucket list. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle, then go during VinItaly. However hotels and restaurants book months in advance. Next year VinItaly is April 6-9, in case you were wondering.  

How remarkable to be there! I am lucky and grateful for the work that I do. My next trip back will not be until the fall, when I will guide clients through the history of Barolo in Piedmont. I await this patiently with great anticipation.

A presto!

Wines We Savored at VinItaly: