The lovely city of Verona

Posted on: 8th November, 2016

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

In September we flew with Topflight from Cork to the city of Romeo and Juliet and transferred to Sirmione on Lake Garda. The charter airline, which carried us there and back, Volotea, a Spanish low cost carrier, have just announced that it is starting up a regular service on this route from this coming summer. Verona is a convenient gateway to a variety of interesting northern Italy destinations so I thought I would share some of my experiences with you.

First of all Verona itself. The Arena, Italy’s second most important, nowadays stages operatic performances rather than gladiatorial combat! Evidence of Verona’s past as a powerful city-state is everywhere. Perhaps most startling is the outdoor tomb of Cangrande, one of the Scaligeri dynasty who ruled Verona and much of the surrounding area. Blessed with two atmospheric piazzas, Signori and Erbe, and with Giardino Giusti, one of Italy’s finest Renaissance gardens, there is much to admire in Verona. Of the hotels we have stayed in, the predictably named Giulietta and Romeo are my favourite.

Vicenza, a glorious city dominated by the architecture of the great Palladio, is a mere 25 minutes by train from Verona. Perhaps one of the most underrated of all Italian cities it boasts a stunning piazza, the world’s oldest indoor theatre, and surprisingly, one of the most important collections of Russian icons. A short hop further along the Verona-Venice trainline is the fabled city of Padua with one of the most important early Renaissance frescoes in all of Italy, the work of Giotto.

Taking another train route from Verona you can easily access the stunning Dolomite mountain range. We visited Bozen and Brixen in the Italian Tyrol region, for centuries up until WWI part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Brixen, also known as Bressanone, is particularly beautiful, its Duomo is unique and the surrounding mountains make a beautiful backdrop. The Goldener Adler located right on the river is a lovely Austrian style hotel and very welcoming.

Our most recent trip to Verona and beyond brought us to Sirmione on Lake Garda, perhaps the lakes’ most visited town, popular because of its well-preserved Scaligeri Castle, the hot water springs and important Roman ruins, said to be a villa belonging to the Roman poet Catullus. The Hotel Catullo is highly recommended as an oasis from the crowds, which can be overwhelming, particularly in high season. Personal preference on Lake Garda based on previous travel experiences would be Salo on the western side where Mussolini made his last stand, and pretty, relatively un-touristy, Torri del Benaco on the eastern side. The Albergo Gardesana is well-located and the best choice in Torri.

Of course Verona is an Italian wine lover’s dream. Familiar types grown in the area would include light and fruity Bardolino named after the pretty town on the lower east side of Garda, Valpolicella from the area between Verona and Lake Garda, increasingly producing Ripasso, a stronger version of traditional Valpolicella. Soave is the most famous white from the region. On our recent trip, I discovered two new and wonderful wines, grown in the area roughly from Salo to the city of Brescia, more about these discoveries in a future article!

This month’s recommendation: Super Valu’s Australian Barossa Valley Estate red wines are great value on special at the moment, €12, and available as either a straight varietal Shiraz or a ‘GSM’ combination of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre. I can’t decide which one I like the most, but both are excellent on these darkening cold nights.

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West Cork Flag Day Collections
in aid of Cork ARC Cancer Support House

Cork ARC Cancer Support House’s annual West Cork Flag Day collections are set to take place in Bandon on Friday 21st April and in Castletownbere, Bantry, Ballylickey, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Kinsale and Macroom on Thursday 27th April, 2017.

Hilary Sullivan, Head of Fundraising / Corporate Affairs at Cork ARC Cancer Support House says: “Please remember on our annual Flag Day collection that all our collectors are volunteers, giving their time freely to raise funds and increase awareness about our cancer support services at our West Cork centre.” Acknowledging the ethos of volunteering being the driving force behind the charity’s work in the community, Hilary also says, “As all of the services at Cork ARC Cancer Support House in West Cork are supported by a large volunteer base, we hope that our volunteer collectors’ generosity of spirit will be rewarded by a warm reception from the public despite the difficult financial conditions experienced by so many people.”
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Aileen joins the historic West Cork Property from Sheen Falls Lodge, Kenmare where she held the position of Sales & Operations Manager. Firmly re-establishing the award-winning property, during her tenure, along with her husband Patrick (now Park Hotel Kenmare General Manager) Aileen plans to continue her success and work her magic at ECCLES Hotel, along with a dedicated team to bring it back to its former glory and re-establish its place in the local community.

Aileen and the team at ECCLES Hotel will host a wedding showcase on Sunday April 30th from 12 to 5pm. The showcase will present the refurbished Ilnacullin ballroom to couples. The ballroom which can comfortably host up to 320 guests, will be set up in all its splendour to help couples visualise their wedding reception at ECCLES Hotel. Some of the hotel’s newly refurbished bedrooms with stunning bay views will also be available to view on the day.

Rose O’Sullivan, wedding coordinator at ECCLES Hotel said, “As well as larger weddings ECCLES Hotel is a wonderful venue for more intimate wedding celebrations too as well as civil ceremonies and blessings. Couples can come and see all we have to offer and enjoy a prosecco and canape reception at the showcase, to give them a flavour of our delicious new wedding fare by Head Chef Nick Davey.”

For more information visit www.eccleshotel.com, call 027 63003 or email weddings@eccleshotel.com
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Clonakilty Cruinniú na Cásca event

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13th April, 2017  ·  

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