By Denise Otero, Travel Consultant for YOUR FRIEND IN ITALY
Italy and France always tend to vie for first place as the top European honeymoon destinations, and it’s not surprising Italy has beat out France on many occasions. Italy is undoubtedly known as one of the most romantic places in the world. It offers picturesque and diverse landscapes, rich history and art, sumptuous food, wine, and a slow paced way of life to help you simply relax and get lost in the warmth and passion of Italy’s culture.
Being an Italy travel specialist, it’s not difficult for me to come up with a list of top ten honeymoon destinations in this breathtakingly beautiful country. On the contrary, it is actually difficult for me to narrow the list down to only ten! Based on once having the incredible experience of living in Venice and countless trips to Italy over the years, here is my top ten in no particular order:
10. The Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast is connected by one of the most scenic roads in Italy. As you make your way along the coastal road, the shoreline glistens with cobalt blue waters and is accentuated with olive trees, wine vineyards and lemon groves. With each twist and turn, you will marvel at the dramatic coastline dotted with the glamorous seaside resorts of Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, just to name a few. Ravello is a tranquil and very small resort town which sits high up on the mountains offering stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Richard Wagner was inspired by Ravello….and described it as the closest place from earth to heaven!
The stunning beauty of Venice will inspire you as it did Vivaldi, Hemingway, Wagner and Lord Byron. Truman Capote put it best when he described it…”Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go”. Venice is truly one of a kind and a seductively romantic place that everyone must visit in their lifetime! It is the enchantress of the Veneto region and will take you back in time as you walk up and down hundreds of small bridges that connect this magical city immersed by water.
8. Lake Como.
Even before George Clooney decided to call Lake Como his Italian home away from home, I fell in love with it. As soon as I stepped onto the ferry from Como to travel up the lake to Bellagio, an instant sense of tranquility came over me. The sparkling water, majestic villas and small lakeside towns nestled amongst mountains will surely whisk you away. Lake Como is a place where you can be content with just strolling for hours around the towns situated along the lakes, admiring the beautiful gardens and villas, visiting boutique shops and eating delectable meals al fresco as you enjoy each other’s company.
Once honeymooning in Tuscany, you will understand why so many artists have made its landscape their permanent canvas. Florence is the capital of Tuscany and has been called the “jewel in the crown of the Renaissance”. It is a romantic destination of its own. Whether you marvel at the amazing architecture, art and history in Florence, stroll the cobblestone streets of Siena or meander through the Chianti region indulging in a wine tour, you will not be disappointed with the Tuscany region. The rolling hills of Tuscany enveloped with vineyards and cypress trees… the magical views from medieval hill towns… captivating and endless amounts of art… intriguing history…world renowned wine and cheese will tempt you to return ‘under the Tuscan sun’ time and time again. A honeymoon in Tuscany has so many picturesque places to visit like: Florence, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Chianti, Cortona…and the list goes on.
Nestled between the manic hustle of Rome’s Eternal City and the quintessential romance of Tuscany, lies the lavish and docile region of Umbria. Umbria is considered to be the green heart of Italy. The American writer, Henry James, described Umbria as the most beautiful garden in all the world. Umbria’s ideal position, diverse landscape, lack of crowds and undiscovered corners make it one of the less untouched areas of Italy. A honeymoon in Umbria can offer peacefulness in the countryside, gastronomic pleasures, along with incredible architecture and art within its medieval towns: Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, Todi, Spoleto, Bevagna and much more.
5. The Italian Riviera.
The “Italian Riviera” is the name given to the coast of the Liguria region. Its shores, which are dotted with pastel houses, small harbors and fishing villages, curve between France’s Côte d’Azur and Tuscany. Picturesque Portofino is the most known small seaside village of the Italian Riviera. Santa Margherita Ligure is a resort town offering a gracious atmosphere and more affordable alternative to Portofino. During your honeymoon, you can take romantic strolls as palms wave along the promenade. Camogli, Rapallo, Sestri Levante, Finale Ligure are other seaside towns worth visiting.
4. The Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) is still part of the Liguria region’s Italian Riviera but it offers a completely different atmosphere. The ruggedly beautiful Cinque Terre has an 18km stretch of astonishingly serrated coastline. Here you will find five small fishing villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These villages, kissing the water’s edge and built within the cliffs, are covered in vineyards overlooking the sea.
As I write this, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare were recently devastated with floods but the local people are vigorously repairing the damage to bring these villages back to their former glory.The Cinque Terre is a dynamic area because it is both a tranquil retreat and a haven for sports enthusiasts. Active types will be very busy deciding between hiking, horseback riding and water sports. Those looking for a relaxing honeymoon can simply soak up the sun, the unique character of each village and the warmth of the people. Whether you prefer to get away from the stress of everyday life and just sit back, relax and sip a glass of wine or you prefer to test your fitness level, the Cinque Terre offers the best of both worlds.
The Piedmont (Piemonte) region is a large mountainous region in the northwest corner of Italy surrounded on three sides by the Alps. Piedmont is well known for its famous Barolo and Barbera wines, white truffles of Alba and scrumptious chocolate. What was once the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, the countryside is adorned with elegant palaces, castles and rolling hills blanketed in wine vineyards.Despite its industrial routes, Turin (Piedmont’s capital) actually is a vibrant, regal and chic city all in one. It boasts Baroque architecture dominated by grand palaces, elaborate old world cafes and world renowned museums.
2. Lake Maggiore.
Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy. It divides the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont and crosses the border into Switzerland. You can combine both Lake Maggiore and Lake Como for a truly unforgettable honeymoon in Italy.The Borromean Gulf is the arm of Lake Maggiore extending from Verbania to Stresa, which includes the beautiful Borromean Islands. The small towns of Baveno and Stresa possess a luxurious and romantic atmosphere enhanced by the many aristocratic villas in the area dating back to the XIX century.
Rome is a bustling city so it may not be everyone’s first choice for a honeymoon. However, the Eternal City is one of the most important destinations in the world. Its awe inspiring masterpieces of art, imposing architecture, engineering and ancient history will enrich anyone who dares to uncover the Roman Empire’s mysteries. Rome is also close enough to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast so you can consider visiting both areas for your honeymoon. Or, if you prefer seeing the major art cities of Italy, then Rome, Florence and Venice can be combined. Wherever you choose to honeymoon in Italy, you will surely have a romantic and unforgettable experience!