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Cafes, Pastries & Wine Bars

When all is said and done in Verona, one of the most important things to consider is where you'll stop to sip, recharge, socialize, nibble, and revel in this handsome town.

Cafes & Pastries -- Verona's grande dame of the local cafe society is the Antico Caffè Dante, in the beautiful Piazza dei Signori (no phone). Verona's oldest cafe, it is rather formal indoors (read: expensive) where meals are served. But it's most recommended for those who want to soak up the million-dollar view of one of Verona's loveliest ancient squares from the outdoor tables smack in the middle of it all. During the Arena summer season, this is the traditional après-opera spot to complete -- and contemplate -- the evening's experience. It's open from 9am to 4am.

The oldest of the cafe/bars lining Verona's market square is Caffè Filippini, at Piazza delle Erbe 26 (tel. 045-800-4549). Renovations have left little of yesteryear's character or charm, but centuries-old habits die hard: It's still the command post of choice whether indoors or (preferably) out, a lovely spot to take in the cacophony and colorful chaos of the market. It's open daily from 8am to 1am (closed Wed in winter).

An old-world temple of caffeine, Caffè Tubino (Corso Porta Borsari 15/D, 1 block west of the Piazza delle Erbe; tel. 045-803-2296) is stocked with packaged blends of Tubino-brand teas and coffees displayed on racks lining parallel walls in a small space made even smaller by the imposing crystal chandelier. The brand is well known, is nicely packaged, and makes a great gift. It's open daily from 7am to 11pm. On the same street is Pasticceria Bar Flego (Corso Porta Borsari 9; tel. 045-803-2471), a beloved institution with eight tiny tables. Accompany a frothy cappuccino with an unbridled sampling of their deservedly famous bite-size pastries by the piece at 1€ each. Zaletti are a regional specialty, traditional cookies made with corn flour, raisins, and pine nuts -- much better tried than described! It's closed on Monday.

One of Verona's oldest and most patronized pasticcerie is Cordioli, a stroll from Juliet's House on Via Cappello 39 (tel. 045-800-3055). There are no tables and it's often crowded at the bar, but with coffee this good and pastries this fresh, it's obvious why the crowds come. Verona's perfect souvenir? How about homemade baci di Giulietta (Juliet's kisses, vanilla meringues) and sospiri di Romeo (Romeo's sighs, chocolate hazelnut cookies)? It's closed Sunday afternoon and Wednesday.

Wine Bars -- Verona is the epicenter of the region's important viticulture, but the old-time wine bars are decreasing in number and atmosphere. Recapture the spirit of yesteryear at Carro Armato, in a 14th-century palazzo at Vicolo Gatto 2A/Vicolo San Piero Martire (1 block south of Piazza Sant'Anastasia; tel. 045-803-0175), a great choice when you want to sit and sample some of 30 or so regional wines by the glass (2€-5€) and make an informal meal out of fresh, inexpensive bar food. Oldsters linger during the day playing cards or reading the paper at long wooden tables, while a younger crowd fills the place in the evening. A small but good selection of cheeses and cold cuts or sausages might be enough to take the edge off, but there is always an entree or two and a fresh vegetable side dish. It's open Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 2am, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2am without a lunch break.

The wonderful old wine bar Enoteca dal Zovo, on Vicolo San Marco in Foro 7/5 (off Corso Porta Borsari near Caffè Tubino; tel. 045-803-4369), is run by Oreste, who knows everyone in town, and they all stop by for his excellent selection of Veneto wines averaging 2€ a glass, or you can go for broke and start with the very best at 4€. Oreste's simpatica American-born wife, Beverly, can give you a crash course. Salami, olives, and finger foods will help keep you vertical, since the few stools are always occupied by senior gentlemen who are as much a part of the fixtures as the hundreds of dusty bottles of wines and grappa that line the walls. It's open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 8pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.