Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Easter wines

Whether you are a traditionalist and plump for lamb over the Easter break or are more edgy and prefer something less conventional on the menu, here are some corkers for you to enjoy. 

Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, £58, Berry Bros, Berry Bros. & Rudd (bbr.com)
You will be hard-pushed to trump Billecart-Salmon champagnes for quality and elegance. Powerful and complex, this beautifully constructed chardonnay cuvée  oozes lemony tangs with a trace of green apples. A glass of this delicious bubbly will make your Easter extra special. 

Berry Bros. & Rudd Margaux, 2011, Ch. Brane-Cantenac, £19.95, bbr.com
A well–structured subtle wine brimming with lots of gorgeous red fruit and the right amount of oak. Silky-smooth on the palate, it is incredibly seductive.

Beronia Rioja Crianza, £10.99, Waitrose
Emanating from a bodega owned by the old sherry house Gonzalez Byass comes this delicious red. It has been aged in French and American oak barrels which gives the luscious red berry flavours a spicy kick.

Rioja Blanco, 2010 Finca Allende, £19.95, bbr.com
The Rioja region may be more renowned for its reds, but it does produce some superb white wines and this one is a good example. Pineapple mango and kiwi fruit with a smattering of anise assault your taste buds. A bold and flavoursome tipple that will impress.

By Daralyn Danns

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Destination Verona, Italy

It is not hard to fall in love with Verona. After all it is one of Italy's most ancient and alluring cities. 

Built on the banks of the Adige, it was colonised by the Romans in the 1st century BC. Discovering this wonderful place is almost like you are unravelling a rich tapestry woven by all the peoples that have left their mark along the way.

After being lost in antiquity, I realised that this glittering past melds naturally with today’s Verona, a place which has morphed, seemingly effortlessly, into a modern, vibrant north Italian city.


Porta dei Borsari
© Fototeca ENIT

I took in the well-preserved Roman gate with its magnificent arches as I strolled along the renowned shopping street, Corso Porta Borsari. I found it hard to believe that the locals seem oblivious to what was one of the entrances into the ancient city of Verona. But, in Italy, I guess you take all these spectacles in your stride.

There are so many important historical buildings in Verona that it has been named a Unesco world heritage site. Yet, in a city that has a river studded with pretty little bridges and is overflowing with gorgeous piazzas, palaces, churches and is also home to the  medieval fortress, Castelvecchio, it is hard to believe that  the star attraction is said to be the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet Capulet’s house).  

Juliet’s house
Provincia di Verona photo archive

The only tenuous link that this house seems to have to Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet is that is was reputed to have been the home of the Capello family who could have been the inspiration for the story’s Capulets. Undeterred, the crowds flock to this restored house and cram into its tiny courtyard to take a peek.

A bronze statue of Juliet stands under the fabled balcony, which is said to bring you luck if you touch it. As you can't have too much of that, I brushed my hand against it.

Afterwards, I walked up the Via Mazzini eyeing the wonderful boutiques that pepper it. I then treated myself to a chocolate and vanilla ice cream – it really is so good here – before making my way to the Arena di Verona.

Fondazione Arena di Verona
Foto Fainello

This amazing amphitheatre, constructed by the Romans in AD30 still has its main structure complete. I found myself trying to conjure up images of what it must have been like when it was filled with gladiators and wild beasts. Though, I have to admit, that I would far rather have a ticket for one of its spectacular opera productions that take place in the summer and draw people from all over the globe. Even if you don’t like opera, you have to be suitably impressed by the occasion.

After doing all the touristy bits, I sat in a café in the Piazza Erbe, the old Roman Forum savouring a glass of soave, the local wine, whilst watching the world go by. Italy is the place for good food and wine and you'll find plenty of great places to eat in Verona.

Roman ruins romance and elegance, Verona is a gem that despite writing acclaimed plays set in and around the city, Shakespeare reputedly never visited. I wonder what other great works he would have penned if he had?

By Daralyn Danns

Getting there

British Airways fly Verona’s Valerio Catullo Airport from Gatwick. Daily flights during the low season and twice daily flights on Saturdays and in peak season.  Prices start from £42 one way. To book or for more information visit  www.ba.com  or call 0844 4930787

Stay at the Due Torri Hotel. For more information about this five-star hotel and the best rates visit hotelduetorri.duetorrihotels.com