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Destination I Do

The Mediterranean: A Wonderful World

Words by Carolyn Steere

With the endless possibilities that await you in Europe, you might find narrowing down the options for your dream destination wedding and honeymoon to be the most challenging part of planning. On our own journey, we found a few magical places which you may want to consider and some travel tips which we hope will make your experience seamless.

Florence
Every girl has a vision for the day she marries her prince. Idyllic Tuscany with its lush green rolling landscape, picturesque villages and grand domes in the distance, provide one perfect backdrop and the romantic Il Salviatino captures all that is best about this place.

Standing in the magnificent garden, with the city of Florence in the distance, adds to the wonder of the moment when the groom sees his bride emerge from the palazzo. The peaceful surroundings make it seem like time has stopped.

The day is perfect and even though getting married in Italy can be complicated, the experienced wedding professionals of Il Salviatino have every detail covered. All you have to do is share your vision and trust them to make it happen. Your guests will also appreciate the convenience to the city of Florence and the warm atmosphere and elegant surroundings. They will love sipping a glass of local Chianti as they enjoy the magnificent view from the verandah. Il Salviatino is a perfect choice for a small, intimate wedding or an event in which you would be willing to buy out the 46 rooms on-site.

Verona
What better place to begin a romantic honeymoon than the setting for the most famous love story of all time...Romeo and Juliet? The perfect place to stay is the Palazzo Victoria, an exquisite palace built in the 14th century, located in the heart of the old city.

You can skip the motorized transportation, because this town is pedestrian-friendly. Exit the hotel and you find yourself in a world of cobblestone streets and vestiges of ancient Roman history. Stop in to a local wine bar and savor some of the best red wines of the Valpolicella region. Dine-in at the Palazzo Victoria or a few steps away at Trattoria Il Pompiene where the menu includes delectable Italian specialties. Walk off the Tiramisu with a stroll along the Adige River, around the ancient Roman amphitheater or "people watch" on the Corso di Porta Borsari with its shops and restaurants.

After a few relaxing days of kicking back in Verona, hop on the fast train to Rome. Traveling via train in Italy is easy if you keep a few things in mind. First is to pack light because lifts are not available at every station. The second tip is to splurge on first-class tickets. For a few euros more, the extra space for luggage is a major help.

Rome
Rome is a city which exudes high energy with motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic, the vivacious Italian people and an endless number of things to do. Where to stay? The Regina Hotel Baglioni, located on the famous Via Veneto is a short walk from the famous Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, great shopping and sumptuous dining. The hotel is a perfect blend of luxury and elegance with a friendly atmosphere from the moment you arrive and a welcome place to return to after busy days of seeing the sights.

From Rome to Portugal by Sea
Following some action filled days of exploring ruins, admiring cathedrals, appreciating magnificent works of art and sampling local fare, we were ready to begin the sea portion of our dream trip onboard Crystal Cruises’ ship, the Serenity.  Our voyage starts in Rome, with our final destination being Lisbon. In between are exotic ports of call, first-class on-board entertainment, leisurely afternoons by the pool, amazing food, more wine...

An elegant and romantic penthouse stateroom was to be our home for the next 13 days and from the moment we stepped aboard we were pampered by the world-class service and in particular, our butler Jijio. Morning coffee, welcome advice on where to go and what to do, dinner reservations and afternoon canapés were just a few of his gracious kindnesses.  

We cherished the quiet moments sitting on our private verandah watching the moon come up over the sea or watching how the ship was skillfully brought into port. Love filled and stress-free days and nights pass by all too fast.

It’s easy to adjust to a comfortable routine of falling asleep in one romantic location only to wake up in another exciting destination. The Italian Riviera to the French Riviera and the principality of Monaco, where fairytales do come true. Ole! Viva! Spanish style was next where we took in majestic cathedrals, sampled regional tapas and strolled along ancient paths in seaside towns on the Spanish coast. Crystal Cruises has a very sweet tradition of playing "What a Wonderful World" as the ship leaves each port. It choked us up every time we heard it as we realized how blessed we were. 

Cruising affords an endless array of activities, coupled with romantic moments that will be remembered for a lifetime. After nightfall, at the bow of the ship with no one else around but you and your honey, the wind gives an exhilarating feeling of freedom and a sense of awe as the ship cuts through the dark sea. Making new and interesting friends is one joy along the journey, but dining at a table-for-two enhances romance and is a must. Being an all-inclusive cruise line, Crystal eliminates many of the “should-we or should-we-not” choices, which we appreciated. 

What started just a few short weeks ago in Florence is now coming to a close in Portugal. But a wonderful life awaits at home. What a wonderful world indeed. Enjoy your journey!

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2014 issue. You can order a copy here.

Photos courtesy of II Salviatino (first & fourth), Crystal Cruises (second & eighth), Palazzo Victoria (sixth & last), Regina Hotel Baglioni (third, fifth & seventh). 

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