It is no secret that Italy is one of the most sought after travel destinations. The list of reasons could go on forever as to why! Every nook and cranny is filled with history, architecture, and delicious food. There are 55 world heritage sites, with a vast variety of landscapes. From the rolling hills of Tuscany, the smell of fresh pizza in Naples, to getting lost in the alleys of Venice – you simply cannot go wrong with choosing Italy as your elopement destination.
Best Times to Elope in Italy
Spring is a great time to visit, March – May. March and April have pleasant weather with less crowds compared to peak season which begins in May.
Summer months (June-August) are typically very busy and crowded, which also makes them more expensive. The summer months will typically make the norther region weather milder, so this may be a good time to visit locations like the Dolomites.
Fall (September – November) is arguably the best time of year to travel to Italy. It lies just after the busy peak season and carries many of the same benefits as spring, with thinner crowds and pleasant weather.
Winter (December – February) is considered off-season in Italy. The streets are quiet as the flow of tourists slows with the falling temperatures.
Can you get married in Italy?
You can legally get married in Italy, even if you reside in a different country. You do not have to be a resident.
You must be at least 18 years of age.
This is all dependent on your individual state requirements.
For example, in Oklahoma it is a requirement that you are married within your county. So legally our documentation states we were married in Tulsa county, even though our ceremony was in Italy.
Ortesei or Val Gardena Region
This is a must see location. Ortesei is a quiet and quaint little town with a historic and German vibe as it was originally German land and kept the culture and appeal following it’s transition to Italian land. Greenery everywhere, rolling hills and mountains, a Swiss/german styled homes. There are amazing local art stores and FOOD
Hotel stays are a MUST here. 100% recommend over airbnb, which you won’t hear us say often. The hotels provide breakfast, have spa rooms with spa luxuries you can book, and are ADORABLE with amazing views. Most Airbnb hosts want to meet with you ahead of time so they can show you around which is so nice but also super inconvenient if you are new to the area, or you are getting in late.
This is where you will stay if you want to see the Seceda Ridgeline. There is a chair lift that can take you to the view point/summit. It is about a 15 minute ride. The hours are 8:30-5:30 p.m. DON’T lose your ticket because you will also need it to exit the lift area when coming down from the ridge. You can also hike to the ridge line. It is ~3 hours one way, so 6 hours round trip. There is a café at the summit so you can have a coffee or snack while you enjoy the views.
Hikes in the area:
~2.5 hours – Moderate – 4.4 miles
~3.5 hours – Moderate – 7.8 miles
~2 hours – Easy – 2.7 miles
~2 hours – Moderate – 3.5 miles
~3.5 hours – Moderate – 5.7 miles
~2.5 hours – Moderate – 5.4 miles
~3.5 hours – Moderate – 7.8 miles
~4.5 hours – Moderate – 8.6 miles
~3.25 hours – Moderate – 6.7 miles
~1.5 hours – Easy – 3.1 miles
Lago Di Braiies
Another MUST see experience. This lake is absolutely stunning, especially if you arrive at sunrise and get that alpine glow. You will also want to arrive before 9am, if possible, to avoid the crowd and potentially ~1-1.5 hour line/wait. The boat dock opens at 9:30a.m and you can rent boats for 1 hour. I would HIGHLY recommend this. This is another reason to arrive early, so you can be one of the first boats on the water – enjoying views with some peace and quiet. If you are wanting to take photos on the dock without the hustle and bustle of people, you can rent out the dock and boat house from 830-930a.m. for 150$. Um, YES. Here is the link to rent the boat house: https://www.la-palafitta.com/en#footerEnquiryForm.
Upon entering Lago Di Braies you will receive a ticket, make sure you go to the pay station by the parking lot before you head out. Then once you leave you will put that ticket into a machine to exit.
Venice is a must see while in Italy, especially with the concern of rising water levels. The history and architecture makes for beautiful photos. Most people will immediately think of the iconic “gondala” photos. This experience can be hit or miss. For our ride, we had a man who talked on the phone the entire time. Our friends had a different experience, with their guide giving them history of Venice, playing Italian music, and singing. The cost of a Gondala ride is ~80$. Another option is a private boat. I personally enjoy this style of boat if you are looking for some beautiful photos in your wedding attire. The dark wood makes for an extremely elegant photo, no one rowing in the background of the photo, more space for posing, and more privacy. Here are some other prime photo locations:
The Florian: This is a beautiful location for photos, but they can be particular about profession photography. They will not allow photos or sitting outside of the café before opening and by the time of opening there is usually a decent crowd. We did not attempt to take professional photos inside of the café, but it was beautiful and there is no harm in asking! You will want to get there as soon as they open to avoid a lengthy wait. Beware: the coffee is rather small for the amount you pay. So you are mainly paying for the experience and views of the oldest café in Venice.
Bridge of sighs: Again, you will want to get there as early as possible to avoid crowns. From our experience, Venice is pretty quiet and “sleepy” anytime before 9am. We started our pictures at 6:30am and were able to get most of our shots without the crowds. By 10:00a.m., you will have a large crowd to complete with. This bridge is known because prisoners were taken through the hallway within the bridge to the jail (which you will see on the other side) and allowed one last look out the window which you will also see. They call it the bridge of sighs because this would often be there last view of Venice and they would “sigh” as a result. There are two view points, the most popular being the outside of St. Marco’s square (by the water). The other view point is a little bridge we found walking through the alleys. Google maps will show you the view points!
Rialto Bridge: Best for sunrise
Saint Mark’s Basilica: Most cathedrals won’t allow professional photography inside but the outside of this cathedral is beautiful and so is the square it is located in. This is also where the bridge of sighs is and The Florian. You cannot picnic in the square itself, meaning you cannot sit on the steps or within the square.
Libreria Acqua Alta: This is a famous bookstore. It is overfilled and unorganized. You are mainly there for the aesthetic and appeal. There is a book staircase in the back of the store that could make for some good pictures, if there is not a line. Beware of the smell as there are free roaming cats!
Back alleys: Prime for pictures and shopping! Avoid the most populated areas, these are generally filled with tourist items and souvenirs and are not known to be authentic. The crowds will also disrupt your pictures.
Squares: There are multiple squares in Venice with good drinks, food, and markets. I would recommend trying to find some that are less crowded than Saint Mark’s for pictures and “down time”.
The rolling hills of Tuscany are a MUST. I would highly recommend staying outside of the hustle and bustle of the cities. We stayed in Chianti, which is ~20 minute drive to the heart of Florence. If you can find a villa/farm stay – even better. It will most likely be on a vineyard and if you will be provided a discount on their wines. I could have stayed at ours all day, and been content. Here is a link to the airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms.
There is also a PERFECT little restaurant about 8 minutes from the villa/Grieve Chanti area called Lamole di Lamole, that I would highly recommend. It is off the beaten path, cute, quaint, amazing food, and a bottle of limoncello to end the meal – what more could you ask for. Perfect for a celebration.
Renting a moped to drive through the rolling hills of Tuscany, sigh, I cannot recommend it enough. We saw SO many cute little towns, filled with authentic Italian structures, people, food, art, etc. Plus, how amazing for pictures in your wedding gear?! One example, is an abbey we came across: The Badia di Passignano, also called the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano is a historic Benedictine abbey located atop a scenic hilltop. It has one the oldest preserved kitchens and also the Last Supper painting by Ghirlandaio… who’s apprentice was Michaelango and who’s painting inspired the famous Last Supper by Leonardo di Vinci. They do not accept entry fees but donations are highly recommended and appreciated to help with the restoration of the monetary as it was taken over twice and many paintings and items were covered or destroyed.
The Tuscany region is also where the famous and beautiful Saturnia Hot Springs are located. We did not have time to make the trip to see them, sadly. From research it is best to arrive first thing to avoid crowds, especially if you are wanting pictures. These hot springs are located ~2.5 hours from either Florence or Rome. I would recommend stopping here on your way to Rome from Florence or on your way to Florence from Rome.
Photos by: Brooke Lewis Photography
Florence is a central city in Italy’s Tuscany region and has vast history and beautiful views. You can see the square Piazza della Signoria with the statue of David, Perseus, Medici Lions, etc. for free. Again, the early bird gets the worm. If you are looking for some epic photos – get there with the sun. Otherwise you will be photoshopping A LOT of people out.
Florence Duomo, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, is a beautiful and historic location. If you have time, I would suggest buying a roof top ticket to get the full view of Florence and again… epic photos. Here is a link to tickets but you can also purchase them with a QR code when you arrive: https://operaduomofirenze.skiperformance.com/en/store#/en/buy
Florence is full of shopping and the “hustle bustle”. So if you are trying to have a romantic get away, I might suggest a day trip or half day trip to Florence (early morning) and then escaping back to the hills of Tuscany. Oh, and snag a sandwich while you are there from the famous sandwich shop, All’Antico Vinaio.
Siena is another central city of Italy’s Tuscany region and is known as one of the largest hill towns. It is a close day trip from Florence to Siena. The historic center of Siena is a World Heritage UNESCO Site and one of Italy’s most popular cities for tourism. We were only here for a brief period, on our drive to Rome but I can tell you – it is worth it. Just to see the city. The views are breathtaking. Some top sights of Siena are: Piazza del Campo, Duomo di Siena, Palio di Siena (a famous horse race with loads of history, that runs twice a year), Biblioteca Piccolomini, Torre del Mangia, and so much more. BUT be sure to find a good spot to get the panoramic view of Siena, because WOAH.
One of the most famous cities in Italy, for good reason. I usually do not do tours but the colosseum tour is a must. Mainly because we learned so many interesting facts about Rome itself. If you are wanting pictures with the colosseum, definitely get there as the sun is rising because by 8:30, there is a line a mile long for entry. If you are wanting pictures inside, I recommend doing a tour with stage access as it will be less crowded. We were able to book ours through our airbnb host. The colosseum at night – WOAH. Italy is the city that eats late which means dinner and all the good night time views.
The Vatican – if you are wanting to do a tour it needs to be the first tour of the morning, other than that you will be sharing the experience with shoulder to shoulder people, which if you are anything like us – makes the experience less than enjoyable. But still, a must see if you are in Rome.
Fun fact: Many people like photos in front of the Wedding Cake structure of Rome and will propose in front of it BUT Italian’s are actually not fond of this structure and tried to avoid it being built (according to our local tour guide) as it does not fit the ancient architecture and design of Rome.
Heads up: Rome might have ancient and beautiful structures but other parts of the city are filled with graffiti and litter.
Milan’s cathedral is by far the city’s most recognizable landmark. The second-largest church in Italy is a thing of beauty, with its intricate latticework, stained glass windows and elaborate rooftop spires.The piazza in front of the Duomo makes for a perfect photo. Get there around 8:00am and you won’t have a crowd. Earlier, if you are an early bird but most cafes will not be open that early so plan accordingly. There are plenty of cafes surrounding the cathedral, which makes for amazing views paired with an even better meal.
The 19th-century glass-domed building near the Duomo is neat attraction. It’s not only home to some of Milan’s most exclusive retailers along with cafés and restaurants, but it’s also a prime location for people-watching. Take some photos and snag yourself an Aperol at the Terrazza Aperol, ask for the balcony so you can also have a view of the cathedral. It’s especially pretty at sunset when the light peeking through the glass is quite stunning.
When construction of the “Arch of Peace” began in 1807 to celebrate Napoleon being crowned as King of Italy, it was meant to be an Arch of Triumph. But after Napoleon’s defeat, the project was abandoned temporarily and not completed until 1838. Now it stands as a grand monument at the north entrance to Parco Sempione, one of Milan’s largest green spaces. Eighty-two feet high and topped with bronze statues, the Arco della Pace makes for a striking sight at any time of day. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around the park.
We already discussed renting a private boat. I would say this is a must if you TRULY want to see the coast. Plus, you will have a local that can lead you to all of the best places. Bonus: epic photos. Capri is most likely a full day trip, according to our drive, if you want to dock the boat and actually explore it. Each boat has a 100$ docking fee. Here was our itinerary for our boat:
Blue grotto – this is close to Capri so I would recommend doing this on a day you go to capri. You will want to get there first thing to avoid a wait or crowds.
There is also another cave that has the same effect as the blue grotto. It is absolutely stunning and less crowded. It is called The Emerald Grotto. Each cave has a 8-10$ entry fee as you will have to take a small row boat inside with a guide.
Arc of Lovers
Santa Rosa Monastery
Extraordinary houses, some with elevators
Positano was one of our favorites but according to our guide, it is not very historical and is primarily an “instagram” location. It does not change the fact that the views and food were AMAZING. If you want to sun bathe on the beach, there is a free section without chairs so bring your own or a towel. You can pay for a chair and umbrella which also gives you access to the bar. Each chair is ~30$ per person. There is also a local section which we love because they obviously deserve a spot that is not flooded with tourists.
If you have a lot of luggage – be prepared. This area is covered with hills and stairs! So if you plan to be in this area you might pack a little lighter.
Photos by: Brooke Lewis Photography
Trains are a great way to travel across Italy. You can get from Northern Italy to Southern Italy in as little as 4.5 hours. Plus, you get amazing views and free Wi-Fi!
The train system can be confusing but it is similar to an airport with gates – find your gate, enter, and then find your train number. It is best to book online to avoid tracking down a ticket station. They will check your ticket on the train, not before. Trains are always on time so arrive early. You can store your luggage in the overhead compartments or also in between the seats behind you.
Trains go on strike routinely, but most of the strikes are scheduled so you can prepare. If you do get somewhere and the trains are on strike, I would recommend calling a taxi (if it’s in your budget) because the buses will be FULL.
Here are links where you can book and view routes:
At this time, I would not consider an Uber a reliable form of transportation in Italy. Drivers cancel constantly, so if you are in a hurry – call a taxi or use the metro!
Taxis are great but can be pricey, just like anywhere! There are plenty of taxi services. You can look them up and call if you have an international plan or pretty much ask anyone to help you! We at one point had a store owner call his friend for us to drive us. If you are staying in a hotel or airbnb, they will most likely know a driving company to call.
Similar to taxis but a little more convenient if you will be in one location for a longer stretch of time because you can reach out to the same company or driver and schedule rides ahead of time.
Ferries and Boats
These are primarily used in locations like the coast (i.e. Amalfi) and Venice. If you fly into Venice or arrive by train, you will most likely want to hire a boat. There are taxi boats, with multiple passengers and stops but this will depend on how much time you have. A private boat in Venice is typically ~80$. This may seem like a lot, because it is for a short distance but it is the shortest and most convenient option. So I would try to factor it into your budget.
I would highly recommend hiring a private boat when on the coast. Your driver will know the main attractions, local highlights, and can get you there quickly while you sunbathe and relax. Our driver was very knowledgeable and provided drinks and snacks as well.
Photos by: Brooke Lewis Photography
Buses are also available but a little slower. There are local buses and “tourist” buses so it can be confusing and we ended up missing ours twice – so we stuck to taxis, metros, and trains. If you do take the bus, make sure you know where the stops are and the schedule. Bus tickets can be scheduled in advance as well and are good options to and from the airport. This is also a much cheaper option than a private driver or taxi.
I personally love this system, if you can figure it out. For people who have dealt with a system like this before it will probably be a breeze. However, for those of us from states like Oklahoma – woah – it took some getting use to. Google maps will be your BEST friend, it will tell you what metro line to take and stops to get off on to get to your location. You can purchase tickets at the station. If you plan on staying in the area, get a multi-day pass. You can also get a one hour or full day pass. The main area we used the metro was Milan.
Driving in Italy can be intimidating but if you are an experienced driver – you GOT this. Back in the states it seems like we only use are horn when we are upset and our hazards if something is wrong with our vehicle. Italians use their horn to let you know when you can pass, and to let you know they are by you, it’s so nice! If there is a very abrupt spot, most drivers will throw their hazards on to alert you. Also, the safety features on most rentals in Italy blew us away.
Round a-bouts are EVERY WHERE. These are used instead of standard exits and turns and can be confusing at first. If you miss your exit (round about), you might end up driving 20-30 minutes out of the way before seeing another one. Don’t stress too much, just try to enjoy the views and experience! We missed plenty. Google maps will be your best friend – air play it through the car and let her talk to you every step of the way. Don’t be scared to slow down, throw your hazards on, and take a breath while you figure it out.
Driving in difficult places like Amalfi, Rome, or Naples:
Rome: Take a breath. There are limited rules but for the most part everyone is a decent – good driver and watching out for you. Honks are not rude and you will hear them often – they are to let you know that they are there. Sometimes you won’t know what lane you are in and that is okay just follow the flow and try to stay calm. Again, don’t be scared to slow down and take a breath. If I can do it – anyone can.
Naples: Similar to Rome with some narrower streets. Siena is also this way. For the most part, we stayed on the outside of town unless we were driving to find a parking garage (plug into google maps). Thankfully, they parked the car for us in some places. I would recommend parking right on the outside of town and walking in.
Amalfi: This is where most people will hire a driver and avoid driving. This is what we did because we heard the horror stories. I think we could have done it though. Get a smaller car, if you can. Give a honk when going around corners to let them know you are there! Feel free to stop to give yourself plenty of comfort in knowing someone is not coming around the corner. Listen out for honks. Sometimes you will hear multiple honks because buses or trucks are letting you know they are coming and you may need to reverse. Again, you can always park outside towns like Positano and walk in. Drive slow, take a breath, and you will be okay!
GET INSURANCE: They will find the smallest scratches and charge you for it otherwise. It is also always good to have because there are many small towns and winding roads. You might accidentally bump a curb.
You HAVE to rent a scooter at least for one day. We rented a scooter and drove the Tuscany hills and ended up seeing the most beautiful views, winding up in the quaintest little towns with memorable sights, history, and coffee. I wish we would have done this more!
If you are flying internationally arrive 2-3 hours early – this is a MUST. You will need to go through security, passport control, etc. Plus navigating an airport. They will close the gate 90-75 minutes prior to boarding and you will not be allowed to enter.
At any parking garage, you will collect a ticket. You MUST pay at a pay stand before leaving the parking garage. At majority of the parking areas, you cannot pay when you exit. So always look for a pay stand before hand.
Things of Note
Most places close for a 2-3 hours in the afternoon, from 12-3 or 1-3/4. Restaurants will usually stay open during lunch, until about 2 before taking their siesta. They will open again for dinner. If it is a dinner only restaurant, they most likely will not open until 7-7:30pm. Always, always call. Do not solely rely on what the times say online.
Drinks with Snacks
There is a brief time before dinner, between ~4-7 that snacks are provided with drinks at most places throughout Italy. It is known as aperitivo. This allows you a nice break and can hold you over until restaurants open for dinner.
Eating in General
We are from America. Eating is usually pretty fast paced, like in and out in an hour. That is not the case in Italy. They enjoy their meals. Appetizers actually come out first, drinks before that. The meal might take 30 minutes to get to the table because they are making it fresh. The waiters do not come to you, you raise your hand or let them know when you are ready. They do not routinely check in on you (every 2-3 minutes in America, it seems). They will wait on you when you ask and that is it. Tips are included in their pay/check. Sometimes we would leave some extra cash on the table, but there will not be a section for tip on the check and the “20%” customary.
If you want to book an epic Italy elopement, let’s chat!