Sublime and popular, amusing or dusky dramatic stories, the Opera explores and solves each and every human passion. It forms the roots of psychanalysis, as much as the more essentially Italian art form. Verona, the city that Shakespeare worshipped, hosts its summer temple, the Roman Arena. In last august, at dusk, we crossed the amphitheatre arches, and sat down waiting for the darkness to announce two unmissable works. In summertime all revolves around the Opera, the restaurants are constantly open, Verona is packed and burstling, expectation is in the air. Italian and European fans, distinguished professors, casual young people, and us, all sharing the initiates pride, a magical sense of mystery and revelation. We saw the Aida, and - another day - Nabucco, whatelse ? two Verdi’s masterpieces, two full immersions in passion and thriump.
On the other hand, Verona is a wine capital, home of Vinitaly fair, and surrounded by precious vineyards on three side: Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, Colli Euganei, and - more far away - the Prosecco hills and the amazing Sudtyroler Weinstrasse.
With our sporty group we spent three days in Verona. Between one opera and the other, we tasted the finest Soave, from the small original area, then Valpolicella and of course Amarone, the more seductive and irresistible of the four top Italian big reds. The next days we moved north towards Bolzano/Bozen, stopping in the Sudtyroler Weinstrasse wineries, tasting their incredibly perfumed and elegant wines, forerunners - I hope - of a possible new trend among wine lovers.
We crossed the Dolomites, we walked the Sass Pordoi, we visited the Marmolada glacier, or rather its remains, and the Lavaredo Three Peaks, unmissable and hence crowded, the Tofane and more mountains around Cortina. Happy enough with rocks, woods and snow, we headed south again, reaching the Valdobbiadene, easy, green hills, to lodge in majestic Castelbrando, a castle of course, with an amazing view on the vineyards. It’s the Prosecco land, fresh, pleasant natural sparkling wine which, apparently, becomes a best seller among the Italian wines. We tasted in some of the best estates in the Classic Prosecco area, we visited the historical Villa Masér winery, and we ended with a few tastings of the finest grappa, last specialty of Veneto that, in one way, or the other, seems to be famous everywhere. End of the tour, back to the airport, or extension to visit Venice, its bridges and gondolas.
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