Most romantic places in Italy, off the beaten path

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Top romantic places in Italy, the most romantic destination you could think of. Here are Italy most romantic off the beaten path Italian destinations

Saint Valentine day is getting closer, and you still don’t know were to go with your beloved one? Then here is my personal selection of the most romantic destinations in Italy!

Are you thinking of Venice, the Amalfi Cost, Bellagio, Capri, the Cinque Terre? Much too easy! Of course, these are fantastic places, full of romance, atmosphere, history, candle light dinners… and tourists! Yes, because since they are so famous, they easily get crowded (and expensive!). Don’t you think your love deserves destinations off the beaten path, getaways to be discovered in (nearly) solitude, hands in hands, pretending you are there all alone?

If the answer is “Yes!”, then this is the right post for you. And, by the way, you don’t need to wait for Saint Valentine day to visit these destinations, they are fantastic all year round!

Italy most romantic places - Map

 Italy most romantic place #1: Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet

Well, Verona is not exactly “Off the beaten path”, but it is surely underrated compared to nearby Venice. In fact, ever since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet drama, Verona has been the portrait of the Italian romantic city (and it surely is!). That’s why I picked it up to start our tour.

Unsurprisingly, in Verona you will find Juliet’s house, complete with her balcony and statue, as well as thousands of love letters tucked into the wall around Valentine’s Day (you can even write one yourself!)

But Verona is much more than that, and its air of romance doesn’t come by association alone. You’ll have plenty of romantic options: enjoying an old fashioned carriage ride, strolling along the river and in the narrow old streets, or relaxing in an outdoor cafe on a renaissance square.

My personal top choices for a romantic walk are Piazza delle Erbe (where you can sit and have an Aperitivo while enjoying the beautiful setting), the old bridge, the Roman theater and, of course, the fantastic views from the belvedere at Giardino Giusti (one of the most notable renaissance gardens in Northern Italy).

By far the most romantic (and, in general, best) accommodation in Verona is the Palazzo Victoria hotel. Palazzo Victoria is located in the very heart of Verona, a few steps away from Juliet Balcony. Everything here is luxury and elegant.

Italy most romantic place #2: Villa d’Este gardens and fountains in Tivoli

Villa d’Este, with its fabulous palace, garden and fountains, is one of the most remarkable Italian Renaissance accomplishments, and, in my view, an incredibly romantic place, especially when visited after sunset. It is located in the small town of Tivoli, 30 km from Rome.

Villa d’Este displays an incredible concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music (water powered!) and is a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden. It is rather far from traditional touristic itineraries, and it’s about one/one and a half hours from Rome. For these reasons, it never gets very crowded, and if you go thee during week days, chances are that you will be nearly alone.

During summer time, Villa d’Este is opened also after sunset, and that’s pure magic!

If you spend the night in Tivoli, you should also dedicate some time to visit the fascinating and hyper romantic villa Gregoriana and Villa Adriana.

For a romantic night in Tivoli, book a room at the B&B Al Palazzetto, a beautifully renovated 15th-century building, in the historic centre and easy walking distance form Villa D’Este.

Italy most romantic place #3: Pienza, and the views from the via dell’Amore

Pienza, a Unesco world heritage site, overlooks the Val D’Orcia and is the first example of Renaissance “ideal city”, i.e. a town bult according to architectural criteria of antique classics that would impact directly on the human soul, stimulating spiritual well being.

It’s old walls and buildings are full of atmosphere and are a fantastic romantic destination.

The wonderful walk along the ancient walks has been named “Via dell’Amore” (no need to translate…), and offers fantastic views over the Val d’Orcia.

For your Romantic stay, the relais  Il Chiostro di Pienza is arguably the most atmospheric choice.  It is an ancient Franciscan convent, just in the center of Pienza. It has a  wonderful panoramic terrace with view on the romantic Senese’s hills. You can actually sit on the terrace while sipping a café or a drink  (cheaper than spending the night there, indeed!).

Most romantic places in Italy_Pienza 5

Pienza could be an excellent hub to visit the worldwide renewed Val D’Orcia.

Italy most romantic place #4: the island of Ponza, a hidden jewel in the Mediterranean sea

For sure you know Capri, you may have heard of the islands of Ischia and Elba, but hardly anyone other than Italians goes to Ponza: lukily enough, this tiny group of islands has managed to stay away from mainstream touristic itineraries.

So here it is, your private paradise ready for you to discover, explore and enjoy!

Stuck in time atmosphere, laid back life style, gorgeous natural landscapes, gelati-colored houses, fisherman in bright boats, turquoise water and white limestone cliffs, secret grottos for snorkelling, fantastic uninhabited beaches, incredible sunsets over Palmarola island: everything contributes to make Ponza one of the most amazingly romantic places I stumbled upon in Italy (and elsewhere)!

For your stay, consider the posh Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna, and its fantastic terrace overlooking Chiaia di Luna cliffs. Even if you don’t sleep there, it’s a perfect place for an Aperitivo or a drink after dinner (god music provided!). Unmissable at nigh, when the full moon lights up the cliffs.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ponza 3_01

Italy most romantic place #5: Ravello, window in the sky of the Amalfi cost

Ravello is a tranquil and tiny medieval town which sits high up on the Amalfi 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!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 4_01
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ravello is cosy, sunny, and loaded with notable buildings (such as its 1086 cathedral). Despite its choice position on the Amalfi coast, Ravello manages to retain the aura of an old-fashioned village, and the typical southern Italy laid back atmosphere.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 5_01

In Ravello, the most romantic place of all is the fantastic Villa Cimbrone, a luxury hotel with a beautiful park that can be visited. But the true highlight  are the terraces, and their unbelievable views over the Mediterranean see. Villa Cimbrone is actually used to celebrate wedding parties, and I had the chance to be invited to one of them, some years ago. Indeed, it was a Wow! experience!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 1_01Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 7_01

The iconic hotel Villa Cimbrone  is by any mean your top destination in Ravello… if you can afford the rates (you can and should visit its gardens, anyways)! A more reasonable suggestion for your stay ? The  Hotel Villa Fraulo ,  to enjoy breathtaking views over the cost from its terrace and a great design and service.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 8_01

 Italy most romantic place #6: Ninfa romantic gardens

The enchanting Ninfa English garden in the Roman countryside was once a small agricultural town founded under the Roman Empire, passed through the ages from Pope Pasquale II in the 12th century to the Colonna family in 1293 until the 14th century, when a devastating war with the neighboring cities brought about the fall of Ninfa and its definitive abandonment.

What you see today was started in 1921 by Gelasio Caetani and his mother Ada Wilbraham, who would bring diverse species back to this garden from her various travels and transform it into one the the most amazing, yet unknown, marvels of central Italy.

Among the various treasures to be found in the gardens are the ruins of a 10th-century church (Santa Maria Maggiore) complete with 12th-century fresco, a picturesque river complete with crystal-clear water and ancient bridges, and a plethora of plants from around the globe, such as red Japanese maples, yucca, yellow begonias, orchids, cherry trees, lavender pathways, Himalayan and Mexican pines and miniature pomegranates.

But what makes Ninfa truly unique and atmospheric is having real roman and medieval ruins dotting a lavish English garden, in an incredibly beautiful and peaceful setting. Not easy to find such a romantic place elsewhere!

Whether you are a botanist, bio-diversity expert or Roman/medieval history buff, these gardens will surely excite the inner dreamer (and lover) in you.

 Italy most romantic place #7: Moena enchanted mountains

Moena lies in the middle of the Dolomites, which are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world.

Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. The bare pale-colored rock surfaces beautifully contrast with the forests and meadows below.

The beauty of the scenery and the majesty of Moena’s panoramas will surely capture Travelers in love with nature.  Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 meters and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world.

Just lie in a meadow (or stand in the snow with a cup of Vin Brulé in your hand) and wait for sunset: the pale grey rocks suddenly turn into unbelievable pink and orange nuances while the sun sets down beyond the peaks. In minutes, the stars will appear in the dark sky, highlighting peaks shape. Believe me, few places look as romantic as the Dolomites at Sunset!

Apart from the gorgeous surrounding, the beautiful village of Moena definitely deserves a visit. It’s a delightful hamlet, known as “la fata delle Dolomiti” (the Dolomite’s fairy).

In the lovely traditional mountain huts, with a hot Stube (local brick stove) to warm the room, you will enjoy delicious local Ladin dishes.

Your romantic choice for Moena  is the lovely Hotel Garden. Everything is great: the views, the traditional tyrolean style rooms, the food and the SPA.

Italy most romantic place #8: Sardinia at its best: Capo Testa hidden coves

Capo Testa is a windy, wild area, located in the north of Sardinia, in the Gallura region. It offers unique, lunar landscapes, and incredible beaches.

Most romantic places in Italy_Capo Testa 3_01

Lapped by translucent blue waters, backed by macchia (scrub land perfumed by wild herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano) and framed by Mistral-warped granite outcrops, northern Sardinia beaches are among the finest in the Mediterranean.

 

Here you are far from the posh beach resorts of nearby Costa Smeralda, and you can savor the wild Sardinia nature at its best.

In particular the rock bluffs, carved by wind and water into natural pillars reminiscent of Roman columns, are an impressive and unbelievable sight

A really inspiring accommodation close to capo Testa is the Saltara country house (agriturismo), which provides lovely bungalows around a nice pool.

Enjoy your romantic holiday in one of these Italy most romantic places!


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Pienza, Sant’Antimo, Bagno Vignoni: Val d’Orcia one day itinerary

A one day itinerary in delightful Val D’Orcia starting from Montalcino: discover San’Antimo, Pienza and Bagno Vignoni and the Val d’Orcia amazing landscape

Well, you had a fair amount of Brunello – cheers! –  and you feel ready to discover the wondefull Val D’Orcia (the Orcia valley).

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - cypress

The Val D’Orcia is a fascinating place, where man have interacted with nature through the centuries in a way that has well reached perfection.

Your Val d’Orcia One Day itinerary starts from Montalcino, which is covered in my One day in Montalcino post.

Coming out from Montalcino, only 10 km away, your first stop has to be St Antimo Abbey.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary: Sant'Antimo abbey

Sant’antimo is an extraordinary Romanesque abbey, one of the most important in the whole Tuscany.

It’s famous not only for the elegance of its lines, but also for its setting in a beautifull valley, surrounded by wooded hills, olive groves and wine yards.

Founded by the Longobards around 770, the abbey received the seal of emperor Charlemagne on his return from Rome in 781.

The present church was build in 1118, to replace the original “Carolingian chapel”. The interior will strike you with with its alabaster walls and columns.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - San'Antimo nave

If you get there on Sunday morning, do spend some time to assist to the mass, and allow yourself the opportunity to hear the Gregorian Chant practised by the monks.

Regardless to your beliefs, the atmosphere is unique, and, especially if you sit in the first rows, you will really get the feeling of assisting to a 12th century ceremony. Simply magical! (Sunday mass: 9.00 AM and 11.00 PM; the church closes at 12.30).

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - Mass in Sant'antimo

Getting back on track, you can continue your itinerary in Val d’Orcia and head to Bagno Vignoni.

It takes no more than half an hour by car, and the road twists and turns in the beautiful country side, letting you discover new breathtaking sights after each turn.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - Val d'Orcia scenery

On the road, consider making a stop in the charming San Quirico d’Orcia, an important stage-coach post along  the Via Francigena, the ancient road and pilgrims route running from France to Rome.

Just after passing San Quirico d’Orcia, you will see the white incrustations on the side of the hill, left over the centuries by the thermal springs of Bagno Vignoni.

Bagno Vignoni is quite a unique, off the beaten path place, and a highlight of your Val d’Orcia One Day itinerary.

It’s thermal waters were already appreciated in Roman times. In the middle ages, a village developed around the large basin that constituted the ancient thermal structure. Caterina da Siena stood here several times before becoming a nun.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - Bagno Vignoni

After all these emotions, you are probabli rather hungry.

Bagno Vignoni has several small restaurants, many of which give you the possibility of eating outside, and take advantage of the sun and the view.

I suggest the Osteria del Leone, on the main square just behind the Loggiato di Santa Caterina, where I hd a delicious Tartare with olives and goat cheese.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - delicious Tartare in Bagno Vignoni

You can also take advantage of the local thermal waters spa and spend the rest of the afternoon induging in the warm water, with in front of you the astounishing view of San Quirico d’Orcia. Look for Piscina val di sole, close to the entrance of the village.

If you get here at the end of the day, you may also consider to spend a romantic night at the Locanda del Loggiato, which has kept the fascinating atmosphere of a 1300 century house, with part of the original characteristic wooden beam ceiling and antique floor in terracotta.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - landscape

From Bagno Vignoni and San Quirico d’Orcia, take the country road to the lovely Montichiello hamlet, and admire one of the most iconic Tuscany views. You surely have seen it already on postcards, guides and coffee table books!

Val d'Orcia in one day Itinerary - Road to Montichiello

The last stop of your Val d’Orcia itinerary in one day is Pienza, one of the jewels of Tuscan renaissance.

Pienza, a Unesco world heritage site, overlooks the Val D’Orcia and is the first example of Renaissance “ideal city”. That is:  a town built according to architectural criteria of antique classics that would impact directly on the human soul, stimulating spiritual well being.

The most famous Pienza building is the cathedral, dedicated to St. mary of the assumption. It combines a renaissance façade with a gothic interior.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - Pienza - Santa Maria

Also notable are the palazzo Piccolomini, the town hall, the Borgia palace and st. Francis.

But, most of all, you will enjoy walking down the corso Il Rossellino (the main street), loosing yourself in the lovely shops selling local delicacies. You must try Porchetta and worldwide renowned Pecorino di Pienza (Pienza sheep cheese).

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - delicious Porchetta

Before getting back to your car, don’t miss the walk along the old walls, for a last glance at the Val d’Orcia.

Val d'Orcia one day itinerary - view on the valley from Pienza

After reading this post, you may want to spend more than a day in this lovely area. If you’d like to do so, here are two great options to spend the night.

Castello di Spedaletto: it’s an authentic XII century castle, with great rooms and an charm you won’t find anywhere else. It’s located in the valley underneath Pienza, a 10′ drive from the city. Click here to check prices and availability.

Relais il chiostro di Pienza: located close to St Mary church, in the heart of Pienza, it used to be a monastery before being transformed into one of the most romantic hotels you may think of. Its terrace and some of the rooms overlook the valley and offer astonishing views. Click here to check prices and availability.

Enjoy your Val d’Orcia One Day itinerary!


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Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?