Okay, so we may have lied when we said ‘non-cheesy’ romantic places in Italy. There are a few ideas here that may make you groan if you’re not into this sort of thing. What we meant to say was ‘unorthodox, unexpected and not in Rome or Venice’. While Rome and Venice are known the world over for their romantic atmospheres and vibrant love stories, we’ve decided to bring you a list of alternatives. This way, when you retell your amorous tale to friends and family, it will be truly unique. So, whether you’re looking to propose, tie the knot or just woo your beloved, here’s what the ‘Boot’ has to offer:
1) Infiorata Festivals
Italy’s infiorate (flower festivals, thought the word actually means ‘beflowered’) are more than just an opportunity for a lovey-dovey escapade. They’re also lots of fun! Since the 13th century, certain Italian towns have celebrated spring with flower festivals. In May and June, locals deck the town in flowers, and teams participate in creating murals on public squares and streets using petals and natural materials. Processions, public demonstrations, awards and local traditions abound! Your best bets are the infiorate in Noto (Sicily), Genzano (Lazio), and Spello (Umbria).
2) A Chocolate Hotel
Admit it, whether it’s in a romantic context or not, chocolate rocks! The Etruscan Chocohotel in Perugia is the only hotel in the world dedicated to chocolate. Choose your room based on your preference for milk, dark or gianduia (a type of hazelnut chocolate praline invented in Turin). There’s also a chocostore, a restaurant dedicated to chocolate, and even lamps in the bedroom s with pouring chocolate!
3) Star Wars-Style Romance
This is one of the more niche romantic places in Italy. Like, really niche. The Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como in Lombardy was the scene for Anakin and Padme Amidala’s wedding in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. Ever since, the villa has hosted multiple Star Wars-themed weddings (complete with rebel force bridal parties). Of course, the villa itself is simply beautiful (Star Wars or not), and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
4) Juliet’s Balcony
With this one, we admit, we’re cheating. The fabled balcony from Shakespeare’s masterpiece Romeo & Juliet is 100% cheesy! Juliet’s House in Verona, Veneto is a favourite destination for many lovers. It is said that touching the statue of Juliet’s breast will make anyone lucky in love, and there’s a grate where you can install a lock in the name of your own undying love for one another. The balcony itself is where Juliet utters her famous line: “Romeo, oh Romeo, wherefore art though Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name!” Luckily, you and your better half won’t have to deny your roots to enjoy an idyllic tour of the house.
5) Mountain-Top Stargazing in Abruzzo
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What’s more romantic than gazing at the stars, hand-in-hand? Nothing, that’s what. You’ll both need to be fit enough to reach it, but atop the Gran Sasso massif in Abruzzo lies the Observatorio Astronomico d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo Astronomical Observatory). Here, on the largest plateau on the Apennine Ridge (Campo Imperatore), in the Gran Sasso e Monti Della Laga National Park, you can take an evening tour of Italy’s sky. If you’re not keen to arrive tired and sweaty (not so romantic), take the cable car up to the top!
6) A Tour of Mt. Etna by Train
All aboard the Ferrovia Circumetnea for a whimsical tour of Sicily and Mount Etna on a train from the 80’s! This 110km railway route circumvents (hence the name) the volcano. It also connects the town of Catania to Riposto. The 3h30 journey features lunar landscapes of igneous rock, fertile fields, as well as orange and olive plantations. And all for the affordable sum of about €13.00 (return tickets). Plus, let’s be honest…who says no to a proposal on a train with a view of a volcano?! If you’re daunted by the prospect of travelling Italy by train for the first time, read our guide.
7) Muretto di Alassio
The small seaside town of Alassio (Liguria) is also the scene of a great Italian love story – and this time nobody dies. Legend has it Adelasia, the daughter of Otto the Great, fled to Alassio in Liguria with her lover (who was a humble peasant). However, the emperor eventually forgave them, restored his daughter’s wealth, and allowed them to live their lives out together in peace. Today, even locals consider it one of the most romantic places in Italy. You’ll find a wall with statues dedicated to the couple, with drawings and notes from visiting lovers and a postbox where you can send your true love a letter! Awwww!
8) Spend the Night on the Edge of a Cliff
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This space-age-looking capsule literally teeters on the edge of the Feboudze Glacier on the Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) massif in Val d’Aosta. Bivacco Gervasutti is 2,835 meters above sea level, and is either the most romantic getaway spot in the world, or the most terrifying night’s sleep you’ll ever have. The pod offers internet access, is solar-powered, and includes a living, sleeping and dining area (for up to 8). Anyone is welcome, apparently at no cost. The catch? You’ll have to hike from Val Ferret up the mountain – but it’ll be so worth it!
9) Via dell’Amore
No joke, this route is literally called Via dell’Amore (the way of love). Right? Definitely one of the more corny romantic places in Italy, but certainly not worth overlooking! You can find this beautiful pedestrian seaside promenade in Cinque Terre. It links the towns of Riomaggiore and Manarola, and is only 1km long. That’s easier than the bivouac above! Lovers often secure locks on the rails alongside the route to symbolise their love for one another. What’s more, Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers vineyards, beaches, small colourful towns and unending opportunities to make memories!
10) A Prison Island
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Okay, sure. Prisons don’t exactly scream romance. But unique experiences and once-in-a-lifetime adventures sure do! That’s why we’re suggesting the Island of Pianosa in Tuscany, which was once a penal colony, as one of the most romantic places in Italy. Not only will the white sandy beaches, snorkelling opportunities and remote location (the island was abandoned in 1998 after the prison closed) make you feel like the only couple on earth, but the dark past and scintillating tales of past prisoners and the island’s history will have you both clutching each other! What’s more, the island’s inhabitance dates back to pre-history, so you’ll find several Ancient Roman and early Christian ruins.
Still looking for more romantic places in Italy? Try Verona, the city of love, read our guide to Italian weddings, or see a list of the most romantic places in Rome from one of our Instagram influencers.