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Review / An Italian Duet: Florence and Verona

Katie Hill

Italy is truly the most romantic place I have ever been. Florence offers captivating architecture while Verona is brimming with enchanting historic tales. It was an incredible trip, filled with unforgettable experiences.

We took a late flight to Verona for our stay at Palazzo Victoria. The transfer was around thirty minutes and the route was quite scenic. The location of the hotel could not be any better. You are in the heart of Verona and close to the two beautiful churches of 'Duomo' and 'St Anastasia'. It is also in the middle of the shopping district.

The hotel has a beautiful fusion of medieval construction and modern and traditional furnishings. It is truly breathtaking and I loved the perfect mélange of old and new, displayed throughout the common areas. The main restaurant even had a glass floor so you can see the Roman Ruins underneath. The hotel is the only one in Verona where the ruins are within the building and it is almost like a living museum!

After check-in, we went to the lovely main restaurant, 'Borsari 36', which specialises in Italian cuisine. I can recommend a light snack of sea bass. We then retreated to our room. All accommodation is spacious, well-appointed and each has an individual design. The following morning, I was delighted with the breakfast at 'Borsari 36', buffet in style and consisting of a selection of fruit, cereal, cheese and meat. Your preferred egg can be cooked fresh from the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.

For a spot of wine tasting and canapés, we travelled 15 kilometres from the city of Verona to Villa Della Torre in Fumane di Valpolicella. This Renaissance villa was built by the architect Giulio Romano and completed in 1560. Today it is owned by the Allegrini family, a benchmark winemaker at an international level and leading producer of Amarone wine in Valpolicella. The building has recently undergone a refurbishment and is now open for guided tours, wine tastings, cooking classes, wedding receptions, meetings and art events - and is well worth a visit.

We then went back to Verona for a historical four hour walking tour with an English speaking guide. Verona is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows and operas such as the lyrical season in the Arena - the ancient Amphitheatre built by the Romans.

The city has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture and it is a truly beautiful city. We visited the main sights such as Juliet's balcony, the Amphitheatre, the main shopping parts and markets and also the Piazza dei Signori.

Florence is just a two hour train ride from Verona, and therefore it is easy to discover both on a trip to Italy. The journey was quick and extremely picturesque. We opted to travel first class so that we had more legroom and also so that we could have drinks served to us throughout the journey.

On arrival into Florence we were met by the Il Salviatino Concierge who took us to Fiesole, around a 15 minute drive from the train station. On arrival, this hotel certainly has the wow factor with beautiful gardens and a long windy drive that leads to the main hotel which is set on a large hill with breathtaking views of Florence below. The arrival at Il Salviatino was the main highlight of my whole trip. Although it is ideally located for exploring the heart of Florence with a short shuttle ride, it is sufficiently removed which evokes a feeling that you have truly escaped. The ambience of the hotel was amazing and it is the perfect hideaway. The grounds are gracious and very well kept and the whole property is exceptionally well maintained. Many places in the grounds invite you to sit and take in the beauty amongst the peace and quiet.

As well as the location, the hotel itself is also striking. The rooms are nicely appointed; the building is interesting and fun to explore. The bar and veranda have a magnificent view of Florence and the restaurant offers fresh and delicious Italian cuisine. I also had an amazing Swedish massage in the small spa before our shuttle arrived to take us back to Florence train station for a further night's stay at Palazzo Victoria where we enjoyed a four-course dinner at Bosari36 and after dinner drinks at the Victoria Club Bar before retiring to bed.

I would highly recommend Italy and a twin centre trip like this one to couples or honeymooners looking to spend some quality time together in one of the most romantic places in the world.

Salviatino Collection has launched an offer to discover two of the most renowned cities of Italy, Firenze and Verona, call Katie today for more information and to book.