An Italian SojournWords by Jennifer Stein
Imagine rolling, verdant hills alive with grapevines ripe for picking…a restored medieval village overlooking vast landscapes, which appear as if an artist has painted them. A bustling, ancient city lined with cobblestoned streets and handsome men on Vespas yelling something delicious in an unfamiliar language…the lapping waves of the ocean lulling you into a blissful state as you sip your Brunello and wait for the sun to set.
Only, this isn’t a dream, this is Italy.
Romance, culture, history, beauty, diversity and charcuterie unite in this paradise for lovers. The food is outstanding, the people and customs alone are worth coming for, and the accommodations rival anything you’ll find around the world. If you’ve contemplated celebrating your wedding or your honeymoon here – you’re in good hands. The Italians are experts in love.
We begin our Italian itinerary just outside the ancient city of Florence on the hillside of Fiesole. As you traverse the winding road, the stunning 15th century villa, Il Salviatino, greets you with its manicured gardens and rose-scented terraces. Enjoy a chilled glass of Prosecco, alfresco, as you drink in the city views below.
Weddings here are welcome and encouraged. There are several idyllic ceremony backdrops as well as romantic vestibules to snuggle up in after you’ve said your “I do’s.” They have eight “greenhouse” rooms that sit below the villa gardens and 45 rooms in total. The “greenhouse” rooms are complete with vaulted ceilings and rounded windows in the living rooms that overlook the park. Accommodations in the main villa are unique and inviting, with every room being slightly different. I enjoyed an oversized fireplace and view of the expansive Tuscan landscape, while my neighbor had a room with a stained-glass floor and fantastic terrace view of the city lights (the Duomo is magnificent at night).
Enjoy an expertly crafted meal in-house at Il Salviatino or enjoy one of the nearby restaurants which have been carefully vetted in advance, to make sure your dining experience is as you wish.
Castiglioncello del Trinoro
About 1 ½ hours drive from Florence and atop the medieval village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, you’ll stumble upon Monteverdi Tuscany, a collection of restored 12th century villas and boutique hotel. The property is so well integrated into the façade of the village, you may miss it completely if you don’t know where to look. Once there, you will realize the rare and unrivaled gift you have been given in visiting this one-of-a-kind gem. What’s lacking is the typical hotel signage and grand entrance of marble, pomp and circumstance. What is not lacking: personality, charm, heart and an effortless elegance, like a fine Super Tuscan wine.
The gravel roads meandering through the village are lined with unassuming entrances that house the common areas of the property, although these areas are anything but “common.” The décor throughout the villas and hotel are a happy marriage between contemporary design elements and ancient architecture. Every décor decision from the linens (oh, the linens!) to the bathtubs are pure perfection. Each room at Monteverdi gives you the feeling that you’re stepping into a modern art gallery, surrounded by the vestiges of what history meant to leave behind.
Oreade is the restaurant on property which offers sumptuous cuisine to delight even the pickiest of palates. Monteverdi’s stellar culinary team is lead by Chef Giancarla Bodoni, who firmly believes in a farm-to-table concept. The views from Monteverdi give a visual representation of how far the food has traveled, making it a truly “locally sourced” dining experience.
If you make the sound decision of holding your wedding here, you’ll be in great hands. david beahm design of New York is the exclusive event designer for the property. One of Monteverdi’s owners enjoyed the expert direction of Mr. Beahm and his talented team first hand during her very own nuptials in 2014.
Enjoy a cooking class at Monteverdi and learn from the master herself, then dine on your creation, alfresco, with Val d’Orcia in the distance.
Wine tasting in this region is a given. We suggest Tenuta di Trinoro (a well-known Super Tuscan producer) and Casanova di Neri (recently awarded Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator).
Shopping in Montepulciano is a must for fine Italian leather and keepsakes.
La Posta Vecchia Hotel is located just outside of Rome and rounds out our “Tour d’Italy” perfectly. Situated on the Lazio Coast, this 17th century home (once owned by American oil-tycoon, J. Paul Getty), turned luxury hotel is the definition of Italian refinement. With a sea-view terrace and fastidiously manicured gardens, you could get lost in the endless beauty (and history) of this special place. The home is so special in fact, it’s thought Mr. Getty never truly left and still roams the halls.
Because each room is luxuriously appointed with artwork from around the world, unique décor and soaring ceilings, you could spend days just relishing what’s inside. The twinkling sea views by day and the moon’s reflection by night beg for you to spend at least some of your time on the grounds and terrace.
If you didn’t have quite enough to eat in Tuscany, their Michelin-starred restaurant, The Cesar, will make sure you do. Select the Chef’s Tasting Menu and enjoy skillfully crafted courses, paired with the finest wines and culminating with the most decadent of desserts.
When you visit this exquisite country for your honeymoon or destination wedding, no matter where you stay, eat or play, Italy will never disappoint. Life truly is sweeter under the Tuscan sun.
Italy by Way of London
In order to get to Italy, you may find yourself traveling through London. This is an ideal opportunity to stop off and enjoy one of Europe’s greatest cities and one of London’s most iconic and luxurious hotels, Claridge’s. This Art Deco masterpiece of a hotel offers modern amenities paired with the impeccable service of a bygone era.
Grand ballrooms and lavish suites lend themselves perfectly to a gathering of any size and their curated list of vendors would ensure a wedding fit for royalty.
Photos (in order of appearance): Cheryl Ungar for Monteverdi Tuscany (1st, 6th, 7th), Il Salviatino (2nd - 4th), Bernard Touilon for Monteverdi Tuscany (5th), and La Posta Vecchia (8th-10th).
This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.
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