We love everything about Italy, from the stellar food and wine to the storied landscapes and art-filled churches. The country spans multiple regions, from the tiny towns along Lake Como to the wilds of rural Sicily. But for honeymoons and destination weddings, Tuscany wins our hearts. With easy access, rolling slopes, tidy rows of cypress trees, gorgeous stone villas and medieval-era castles looking down from the hilltops, this is the Italy of your dreams.
Where To Stay
Why settle with a villa when you can have a whole town? Monteverdi Tuscany is a boutique hotel set in a hilltop village in the scenic Val D’Orcia. The 15 apartments and villas are tucked on narrow cobblestone streets that date to medieval times, and updated with perks including a swimming pool and adorable enoteca that serves up wine and cheese with epic valley views. If you want to wed here, a partnership with NYC-based David Beahm Experiences makes gorgeous weddings a breeze.
Il Salviatino is a stunning 15th-century villa perched a hillside in Fiesole, just outside Florence. Explore the birthplace of the Renaissance at your leisure (a free shuttle takes you into town at will), then return to relax by the hillside pool and enjoy an aperitif as you watch the sun set over the red-roofed city. The terraced garden has the same view, and is ideal for wedding ceremonies.
A 12th-century castle-turned-country estate, Castello de Nero sits midway between Florence and Siena, in the heart of the Chianti region. The 50 rooms feature original furnishings and frescoed walls, and the 12-century wine cellar is the perfect place for private tastings or dinner. Wander the hiking trails through the 750-acre estate, then retreat to the ESPA spa for a wine-centric couples treatment…bliss. The beautifully resorted San Michele chapel is ideal for destination vows.
What To Do
Spend a day touring the streets and churches in charming Siena, or walk through the walled town of Lucca, birthplace of Puccini; both towns date to medieval times and are well worth a day trip (at least). Wine tasting is a must is Tuscany, with loads of options. Donatello himself is rumored to have bought wine from Castello di Nipozzano, just outside Florence, while Castiglian del Bosco (owned by the Ferragamo family) produces amazing brunellos in the Val D’Orcia. This gorgeous landscape begs to be explored, by foot, bicycle, horseback–whatever makes you happy. Some roads here date back to the Roman Empire, so you are literally traveling in the footsteps of history.
Where To Eat
Tuscany has its own regional specialties, so in addition to pasta and antipasti, look for bistecca alla Florentine (grilled steak), ribolita (a thick soup with beans and cabbage), and chinghiale (salami made from wild boar). Dopolavora Le Foce in Chianchiana Terme has been a popular meeting spot in the Val D’Orcia since 1939, and serves up hearty pastas and plates accompanied by their own to-die-for olive oils.
Buca di Sant’Antonio in Lucca has been serving tortelli lucchesi (meat-stuffed pasta) since 1782, and the atmosphere (think whitewashed walls and wood-beamed ceiling hung with copper pots) is as traditional as the food. In Florence, Enoteca Pinchiorre is the only regional restaurant to have garnered three Michelin stars, due to the passion of chef-owner Annie Feolde.
What To Pack
Tuscan weather is typically mild and sunny, ideal growing conditions for grapevines and olive trees. That said, the climate is diverse and the weather changeable depending on where you are. Summer brings heat and humidity, especially in August, which is why so many Italians head out of town at that time of year. (Also, note that air conditioning is not a given in Italy as it is in the U.S., so if you’re traveling in summer, check with your hotel or venue.) Winds blow frequently and it can be downright chilly in early spring and late fall, especially in the hilltop towns that overlook the grape fields. So come prepared, with layers to take on and off.
What To Buy
It’s impossible to travel through Tuscany and not buy wine. Per U.S. customs, you can bring back one liter of wine duty-free, or more if you declare it and pay duty, which is well worth it for special bottles you can’t find at home. Much like wine, the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil changes depending on the terroir as well as how it’s produced, so if you find one you love, pick it up. Handmade leather goods are a signature of the region; we love the chic selection at Maledetti Toscani, the Montepulciano-based purveyor of leather goods since 1848. The town of Montelupo Fiorentino was one of the most important ceramics centers during the Renaissance era, and its narrow streets are lined with shops selling colorful dishes and pottery.
Honeymoon Guide: The Honeymoonist | Images 1-3: Feather + Stone | Image 4: Simply Bloom Photography | Image 5: Marisa Holmes