Oh. My. word. This wedding is beautiful. It is classy. It is elegant. It is so super sleek. We’re talking the most beautiful of pastel shades for bridesmaid dresses, the most glorious backless Jenny Packham gown, stunning stationery and festoon lights. They are my very favourite kind of lights.
Photographer Lelia Scarfiotti has captured the mood perfectly with her romantic and dreamy shots. Prepare to swoon.
Wow, wow and wow. Sara looks so hot in her Sottero and Midgley gown. That lace. Also, her hair might just be the most perfect half up half down bridal do ever.
She married her beau in the beautiful Tuscan countryside with 40 of their closest friends and family. Pratello Country Resort had never hosted a wedding before. This was their very first. And what an incredible job they did too. Julia & You transports you there with her beautiful photography and Sara has some great words of wisdom for all you brides planning on marrying abroad.
Elisa and Carlos married in Italy, close to Lake Garda. I love Italian weddings and this one is so pretty. Pretty dress, the prettiest hair, pretty tables (oh the rose petals!) and pretty much the loveliest couple shots ever.
Elisa’s sister caught her bouquet so maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get to see another gorgeous Italian wedding some time soon.
Here is their story from the perspective of their wonderful photographer Sarah Ferrara.
I think this is it. I think this is my ‘if I ever renew my vows I am totally wearing this dress’ dress. Laura looks incredible. A dress with a silk vest overlay?! It is the stuff my dreams are made of. Her choice of dress for her maids was spot on too, just enough lace to bring out the underneath of her gown.
Laura and Will married in Lucca, Tuscany with 65 of their closest friends and family. Their ceremony was at 5pm. Perfect timing for a mellow afternoon in the Italian sunshine.
I think what Laura and Will teach us is that even if you get married abroad, it can still be a really personal affair with everyone getting involved. They got their flowers from a local market and the ladies in the family got together to create what I’m sure you will agree, is some stunning floral arrangements. I love the place names too. This is destination wedding inspiration 101. Oh, and see if you can spot the baby sailors. Seriously. Too much cute. Enjoy.
Right, so as the rain and dreary weather returns to the UK, today we get to be transported back to the lovely rolling hills and beautiful towns of Tuscany for the second part for Anita’s Tuscan tour.
The photos she took whilst there are just stunning, so without further ado, I’ll hand her over to tell you all about The Where To Go.
I hope you enjoy reading about what we actually did on our honeymoon –and I apologise for the photos, even my trusty GHDs were no match for the heat and humidity of Italy in the summer so I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse my mad/frizzy hair!!
After the hectic few days around our wedding, albeit with our lovely friends and family, we enjoyed spending a couple of relaxing days just wandering around San Gimignano and Volterra (only about 20-30 minutes apart). They are both beautiful little Tuscan hill towns with stunning views over the countryside from the old city walls (some of my favourites of our wedding photos were taken on the city walls of San Gimignano).
In San Gimignano – Palazzo del Popolo is the formal name for the Comune or town hall. It has a tower (Torre Grosso) which you can climb for beautiful views over the town and countryside, and a very interesting museum downstairs with history and artwork relating to medieval Tuscany. Make sure you look at the Sala Dante which is a gorgeous room with absolutely stunning frescoes all over the walls (but I am biased as the Sala Dante is the room we chose to get married in!)
Gelateria di Piazza is a must visit – it’s on Piazza della Cisterna, the main square, and is always heaving with people no matter what time of day! They have over 70 flavours, ice cream heaven!
The Rocca is the old ruined fortress up at the top of the town, part of it is now a lovely garden with fig and olive trees, there’s also a small Wine Museum dedicated to Vernaccia, the white wine produced in and around San Gimignano.
Volterra is famous for its mention in the Twilight books but unfortunately the famous town square with the fountain which Bella runs through doesn’t actually exist!! (I think that scene was actually filmed in a different town nearby). The town is still lovely though with lots of marble and alabaster carvings and a couple of small museums.
Siena is a beautiful, beautiful city which centres around the semicircular Piazza del Campo –which if it doesn’t make you go ‘wow’ the minute you step into it, there’s something wrong with you!! One of the most famous events in the Sienese calendar is the Palio, a horse race held twice each summer, in which ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen Contrade or city wards. They race 3 times around the Campo at speed!! We weren’t there on the day of the Palio itself but were there a couple of days beforehand so we got to see the horses being presented in the main square and also to see some of the parades which happen to celebrate the Palio, with music, dancing and flag twirling.
The impressive buildings which overlook the Piazza del Campo are the Palazzo Pubblico (containing the very interesting Museo Civico) and the Torre del Mangia, which we climbed and enjoyed some lovely views from the top. Then it was off to the spectacular Duomo (Cathedral). We refreshed ourselves at a fabulous cafe called Nannini’s (cake, coffee, icecream and wine all under one roof, heaven). The best restaurant we found was Osteria Le Logge just off Piazza del Campo, an old converted pharmacy with an amazing Tuscan menu (quails egg risotto was my favourite).
As we drove from Siena towards Greve and Vignamaggio the countryside got more and more picturesque and we kept stopping every few miles for photos!! We finally arrived at Vignamaggio which was even more stunning. There is a main building which has rooms in it and also 3 converted farmhouses with suites –we were staying in one of these.
For most of our 2 days at Vignamaggio we did, well, not a lot! The majority of our time was spent lounging around the pool and enjoying the lovely views! We did go for a couple of walks in the gorgeous countryside and we went into Greve (about 15-20 minutes drive) for an early evening stroll and then dinner (and of course an ice cream!) in the pretty main square.
However by far the highlight of our stay at Vignamaggio was the 5 course gourmet food and wine tasting – and it was only 45 euros each, bargain! Mike and I are big foodies, we love going to restaurants and trying out new cuisines – our birthday presents to each other are usually a meal somewhere special! One of our reasons for choosing Italy as a wedding and honeymoon venue was the food. We didn’t actually realise that Vignamaggio did food and wine tasting evenings, it was just mentioned to us when we checked in and it was brilliant.
The evening started with a wander around the vineyards and then seeing where the wine is matured before sitting down to a fabulous meal with, naturally, each course paired with a matching wine produced there at Vignamaggio. The food was some of the best we have ever eaten and the matching wines superb. However they don’t do tastings every day, so if you end up going to Vignamaggio, I would thoroughly recommend contacting them in advance and finding out when they have one on and trying to coordinate your visit with that.
Similarly, when they aren’t doing a food and wine tasting, they don’t do proper meals (there’s no restaurant, only a bar serving light snacks) and there’s nothing within walking distance, so you’ll need to be organised and either stock up so you can self cater in your room/suite, or go into Greve for dinner.
Florence really hardly needs recommendations from me –it is so beautiful and spectacular that all you really need to do is wander around and you will find another amazing landmark or gorgeous square. We did all the stuff you have to do in Florence –went to the Duomo (and climbed to the top of the dome in blistering heat – I made Mike buy me a cocktail afterwards to help me recover!), marvelled at the artwork in the Uffizi Gallery and in the Palazzo Vecchio, wandered across the Ponte Vecchio (where I lusted at the jewellery in the tiny shops and Mike made me keep walking!), took a bus out to Fiesole for an afternoon drink and a gaze out to the distant skyline of Florence, went to the Galileo museum (Mike and I are closet science geeks I’m afraid), and, well, just soaked up the atmosphere really.
On the corner of Piazza della Reppublica is a cafe called Caffe Gilli – fantastic coffee and cakes during the day, fantastic cocktails in the evening. The best restaurants we ate at were Lobs, a seafood place just around the corner from our hotel, and a fantastic place called Osteria di Giovanni, where we had an amazing Fiorentina bistecca (basically giant steak!)
I’d also recommend the gelateria on Piazza San Pier Maggiore – every possible flavour of chocolate and mixed with things like pepper, chilli, cinnamon and cumin!
Lucca is a very cute, almost pocket-sized little town –or at least that’s how it felt after the glories of Florence and Siena! We were lucky enough to be there during their annual music festival and spent a blissful afternoon sitting outside in the sunshine listening to a really good jazz band (sadly no photos as my camera died that afternoon!)
Apart from that we walked round the city walls, went to the Duomo and climbed the bell tower (are you sensing a theme here?!) We also visited Piazza della Anfiteatro, an old converted theatre, which is gorgeous. We ate amazing grilled ribs at Trattoria da Leo, and drank fabulous cocktails at a little bar on Via Elisa. Mainly we enjoyed the last couple of days of our blissful Tuscan honeymoon.
Wow. I have absolutely loved putting this together, and thank you so much to Anita for taking the time to write this and also put the images together for us.
Have you been to any of the places in question and can you recommend anywhere to visit or things to do? I’m making a list right now for my summer holiday!
Today I am nothing short of Jealous. Anita… long time commenter here at Rock My Wedding was married in Italy (cue green eyes from me) and then got to spend her honeymoon in Tuscany too. (I’m now beside myself with envy.)
However, I just happen to be planning a summer getaway as I type so I’m going to be eagerly looking for tips and tricks in our latest Rock Your Honeymoon installment, a road trip through Tuscany, taking in the beautiful rolling hills, Italian wines, stunning hilltop towns and villages, the wines, the culture, the food… did I mention the wines?!
I’d better hand you over to Anita to spill the beans on the first part of her trip before I mention it again 😉
A Tuscan Romance
We got married in Tuscany, so it made sense to stay there for our 12-day honeymoon. I had been to San Gimignano and Florence before but many years ago as a teenager – not the ideal age for appreciating art, culture and fine food and wine! In any case there were plenty of places I hadn’t seen and Mike had never been at all, so I started planning.
I got a couple of guidebooks on Tuscany and got a rough idea of the places I wanted to go to. I was adamant that I didn’t want us to try to do/see too much as I have been on those kinds of holidays before where you spend the whole time rushing from place to place and I wanted this holiday to be a bit relaxing too – it was our honeymoon after all! It was while I was still planning our route that I happened to be reading Rebecca’s wedding report, where she mentioned a villa called Vignamaggio which she had briefly considered as a wedding venue. I googled Vignamaggio and fell in love!! I knew it had to feature on our route.
When I looked at the map, conveniently almost all our locations formed a nice little circle around central and northwestern Tuscany, from San Gimignano (where we definitely had to start from because that was where the wedding was), to Siena, to Greve (where Vignamaggio is), to Florence and then finally Lucca. We flew in and out of Pisa, but didn’t really bother about visiting it as everyone says that except for the famous leaning tower there isn’t much else there. The only other place I would have liked to visit was Cortona, but that was just too far away to make it possible on this trip, so it’s on the list for next time!
So we had our route, yay!! All our locations were close together enough that the longest we ever had to drive in 1 day was 2 hours, perfect, especially as this was always through beautiful countryside!! The longest drive was from Florence to Lucca, but we broke this journey in Pistoia as that happens to be where our wedding planner Ben lives, so we stopped for lunch with him en route. Needless to say there’s plenty of pretty ristorantes and trattorias along all the routes so you can stop wherever you want!
Our flights were booked well in advance as we couldn’t risk not getting to our own wedding! (We flew with Jet2 from Manchester to Pisa, very basic but they are (I think) the only airline which flies that route and as it’s only a 4hr flight I didn’t see the point of spending loads!) but I didn’t actually get around to booking the hotels for our honeymoon until about 5wks before!! With the exception of Vignamaggio (which I booked direct with them) all the other hotels were booked via http://www.lastminute.com for the simple reason that I get cashback from them (because I work for the NHS).
Our car hire was with Hertz who were mostly very good, however if you plan to share the driving, be careful as they will charge you extra per day to insure a second driver! We only discovered this when we arrived to pick the car up and it was over £100 more than we had expected to pay! We went for the most basic car and got a Ford Fiesta which was fine for us, but there are plenty of options to upgrade to something more fancy if you want to! We had heard a lot about the crazy driving in Italy but mostly we had no problems, although be aware most of the roads in Tuscany are quite narrow and winding. The only place which was a bit scary for driving was, not surprisingly, Florence – I let Mike do all the driving there!!
Because we got married in San Gimignano, we had made a flying visit there previously the year before to see our venues and meet our wedding planner. This year we were staying outside San Gimignano in the villa we had hired for a week for us and our friends/families (Villa di Ulignano http://www.villadiulignano.it/ however this has to be hired exclusively by a large group) however when we went last year we stayed in Hotel L’Antico Pozzo right in the centre of San Gimignano which was a beautiful old converted townhouse.
Price per night when we stayed there was about £110 per night but this is nearly 2 years ago now so may have changed slightly.
We stayed in the NH Hotel Excelsior which was probably my least favourite of all the places we stayed. Although the lobby area was lovely our room itself was quite small and poky and unfortunately didn’t overlook the beautiful city, but the football stadium!
However it wasn’t really a big problem as we weren’t in the room much but out exploring Siena and the hotel is in a brilliant location, less than 10 minutes walk from Piazza Campo and only a couple of minutes walk from our favourite cafe!! Price per night was about £85 for bed and breakfast.
Our fabulous R&R stop!! We stayed, of course, at Vignamaggio which is not just a hotel, but also an ‘agriturismo’, which means it is also a working agricultural business, in this case making oil and wine.
We had a stunning suite at Vignamaggio overlooking the vineyards. Price was about £200 per night (not including breakfast!) BUT the place was stunning and we did have a suite (with 2 bedrooms, a living/dining area and kitchenette and bathroom).
We stayed at the Atlantic Palace Hotel which was a beautiful converted old palazzo and our room was decorated in gorgeous Art Deco style. We were 10 minutes walk from the Duomo and Piazza Repubblica which was great.
Importantly for central Florence the hotel has a deal with a nearby underground carpark so when you pull up at the hotel someone comes and drives your car to the carpark and then drives it back to the front of the hotel when you’re leaving! Price per night was £100 for bed and breakfast (but parking costs extra).
The last stop on our honeymoon was at the Hotel Ilaria which was a modern, airy hotel inside the city walls.
Nothing is very far away from anything else in Lucca so everything was within walking distance!! Price per night was £110 for bed and breakfast.
I’m looking on the Jet2 website as soon as I finish this post. Italy here I come! And you can see what Anita did there next week 🙂
Now it’s your turn: Any amazing recommendations on where to stay in Tuscany to share with us lovelies?