Italy is the destination of romance par excellence. With such an array of destinations to pick from, one might wonder which one is the best.
Where to start your romance if not in Verona? The home of Romeo and Juliet, this Italian city will tell you the story of Shakespeare's impossible love. You will certainly want to visit the Capulets' Palace and admire the Juliette's worldwide famous balcony, but you should know there is much more to do and see in Verona. Situated as it is on the banks of the Adige River, which embraces the city with its meanders, Verona has ancient origins and appeals to different types of tourists, Its symbol is the Arena, perhaps the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the Peninsula, which hosts every year an opera season.
The golden age of the city was without doubt the Middle Ages, under the government of the Scala family which lasted more than a century: it is during this period that Verona's main monuments were built. You can also take a trip outside Verona to the shores of nearby Lake Garda. The area is dotted with places of great beauty, including Sirmione, famous since ancient times for its sulphurous waters, and Catullus' Grotto displaying the remains of a magnificent villa dating from the imperial age.
Still following the thread of love story, a few kilometers from Verona you will find Mantua – the town where Francesco Maria Piave and Giuseppe Verdi took shelter, in order to escape the Austro-Hungarian censorship. It is also the setting for the tragic story of Rigoletto, based on Victor Hugo's drama, that tells the story of an impossible love - the one of the beautiful Gilda, daughter of the court jester Rigoletto, for the Duke of Mantua.
This Italian city, surrounded by three artificial lakes on the Mincio river, was enriched and embellished by the Gonzaga family. The Ducal Palace is almost a city within a city: among the architectural gems it is home to, the most famous is undoubtedly the Bridal Chamber, entirely frescoed by Andrea Mantegna. Necessary stops, while walking around the city, are Piazza delle Erbe, Basilica of St. Andrew and Palazzo del Te.
Speaking of Venice as a destination for a romantic weekend may sound like a truism. However, not everyone is aware of all the attractions the Laguna offers to its visitors. This is the case for Burano – an island lagoon famous for the lace masterpieces produced by the local craftsmen. The houses of the town, usually two or three stories high, are painted in bright colors and their reflection in the waters of the lagoon give an amazing view. A visit to the Museum of Lace and a walk through the fish market are the must-do things while in this town – a safe haven for those who are looking for some relaxing days in an off the beaten path destination.
A short distance from Burano, you will find the island of Torcello, now almost deserted. One of the first urban centers in the area, it is home to an interesting cathedral, dating back to the seventh century and decorated with polychrome marble and a Byzantine style mosaic top depicting the Last Judgement.