eloping in Italy: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE
This post is all about the where, when and how of eloping in Italy. Italy has some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe, stunning cities and architecture, off the beaten track places in the mountains, secret little islands, shimmering seas, and the best sunsets.
Your elopement deserves to be magical, unique and meaningful to you.
When you start out planning your elopement, one of the first things on your to-do list will be choosing somewhere that truly reflects you as a couple and the significance of the occasion. Europe has many awesome places for elopements, but Italy has always been a firm favourite of mine.
Italy is a rare gem that has the best of everything.
If you think Italy is all about the cities and architecture, think again. While it definitely excels in that, it also has some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe – along with much more. Mouth-watering food? Italy has got you covered. A variety of breathtaking landscapes? Check. A wonderful mix of nature and culture? You bet. Italy is also super accessible, but with plenty of places hidden off the beaten track to add an extra dose of mystery to your elopement. I’m talking mountain ranges, shimmering seas, dramatic cliff tops and fairytale waterfalls.
Do you feel a HELL YEAH bubbling through at the sound of all that?
There are a few things you need to know before hopping on a plane, though – so I’ve put together my guide to eloping in Italy.
Where to elope in Italy
For stunning mountains and canyons
> The Dolomites
> Aosta Valley
> The Italian Alps
The Dolomites are a mountain range in northeastern Italy – and it goes without saying, they’re beautiful. There are countless mountain passes, spiky peaks, and so many striking viewpoints it’s impossible to suggest just a few.
On the other end of the Alps, close to the border with France and Switzerland, there’s the Aosta Valley. Around every turn in the road, a fairytale castle or medieval fortress pops into view.
I can’t chat about mountains without an honourary mention for the stunning views of Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Italy – and the Matterhorn peaks. The colossal peaks that tower high into the clouds will quite literally take your breath away. There are also pockets of shimmering water nestled among the mountains – the beautiful Alpine lakes make truly dreamy photo backdrops.
While the Dolomites are, no doubt, the most famous mountain range in Italy, don’t forget about the Appenines. This mountain range runs almost the whole length of Italy – but my favourite part is in the region of Abruzzo. The peaks and mountain grasslands reach towering heights here, perfect for an epic ceremony backdrop.
For canyon lovers, paying a visit to the 2019 winner of the European Capital City of Culture is a must. The Sassi (Old Town) of Matera is located on the edge of the canyon of the Gravina River. What makes this place unique is that the houses are partly carved into the rock, giving the city its nickname ‘The Underground City’. As it’s one of the earliest places inhabited by humans in Italy, it holds an otherworldly beauty and a truly old soul.
For rolling hills
> Val D’Orcia
> Crete Senesi
When imagining picture-perfect green countryside, Tuscany springs to mind instantly. The main tourist spots (think Pisa, Florence, Siena and Montepulciano) are wonderful, but there are plenty more hidden treasures.
My favourite spots include the Maremma and Val d’Orcia regions in southern Tuscany. If you enjoy a glass of wine (or two… or ten) on top of a mountain with sea views or endless vineyards, these spots are for you.
If you want something out of this world, the Crete Senesi are just that. The characteristic clay has formed a mesmerising lunar landscape, with rolling hills in a distinctive light grey colour. The landscape of the Crete Senesi transforms dramatically with the seasons. Throughout spring the wheat plants are young and juicy, turning the hills a fresh sparkling green – the vibrant green landscapes that Tuscany is typically famous for. At the end of the summer, after the harvest, the light grey colour of the soil replaces it.
For glistening seas
> Amalfi Coast
> Tuscan Archipelago
You can’t mention Italian seaside beauty without covering the dramatic views of the Amalfi coast. However, if you’re looking to elope during high season, be warned that Amalfi and Positano get overwhelmed with holidaymakers. If you want to avoid big volumes of tourists, don’t worry – there are plenty of other coastal spots to elope in Italy.
Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, is scattered with ancient hilltowns, monumental olive groves, and endless views on a skye blue sea. Some locations close to my heart include the gorgeous trulli houses of Alberobello, the labyrinthine white city of Ostuni, and the rugged white cliffs along the jutting coastline.
If you want to be completely surrounded by sea, Sicily and Sardinia are dreamy choices – and there are plenty of smaller islands to choose from too. I personally love Marrettimo, an island with only 600 residents, and plenty of gorgeous cliffs, caves and beaches.
Feeling adventurous? Take it a step further and immerse yourself in sparkling waters with a trip to the Tuscan Archipelago. Renowned for its spectacular driving and snorkelling opportunities, the marine park is a match made in heaven for thrill-seeking couples.
For culture-rich cities
If there’s one thing Italy isn’t short of, it’s cities packed with culture, architecture and delicious food. For history-lovers, head to Rome. As well as the main attractions, Rome is the keeper of many hidden secrets – like a beautiful botanic garden for a whimsical elopement.
For art and architecture, Florence is equally wonderful. Packed with incredible museums and galleries, there’s plenty to see and do. There are also quirky shops, crafts and markets to explore – and everything can be reached on foot, so no need for transport.
Experience sightseeing from the water – hop on a gondola or Water Bus and explore the City of Water. Venice is renowned for its network of canals and beautiful bridges, adorned with the grand architecture of prestigious museums and churches.
When to elope in Italy
Temperatures vary throughout the country. Generally, spring is the perfect time to elope in Italy – between April and June, temperatures are lovely and beautiful flowers are blooming.
As it draws closer to summer, the heat rises and can become quite intense in some places. August should generally be avoided. As well as the temperature, it can become super touristy, as this is the time when most Italians go on their summer holiday. If you do decide to elope in the hot summer months, it’s best to find your way up into the mountains, where the temperatures go down the higher up you go.
In the autumn (or fall) temperatures drop and become pleasant again.
In winter things can get pretty chilly, but temperatures fluctuate across the country. On some days, it can be -2°C and snowy in Milan, a mild 8°C in Rome, and a toasty 20°C in Palermo – so it all comes down to personal preference.
Overall, it’s a bit wetter and cooler inland, warm and pleasant in the south, and rainier in the west than the east. The best time for your Italy elopement is probably in the season with the temperatures you feel most comfortable in!
How to elope – the legal details
Let’s get down to the
One of the main things to consider if you fancy eloping in Italy is the legal side of things. You don’t need to be a resident to get legally married in Italy – but you do need to be prepared well in advance, as there’s a lot to consider.
Due to the Catholic majority in Italy, most weddings take place in churches. Italy does recognise marriages of all faiths, though, so there are plenty of alternative options for different religions and beliefs. Same-sex civil unions are officially recognised, but same-sex marriage isn’t. Civil ceremonies can take place in castles, villas, public gardens, town halls, palaces and more. Any outdoor ceremonies need to be approved by local authority or mayor – so that’s definitely something to consider when planning. A popular choice is to opt for a symbolic ceremony during the elopement, and get the legal wedding done before or after at home.
Paperwork and documentation are required, so planning is key. You need to be in the country at least four days prior to the ceremony to ensure all your paperwork is sorted, and avoid any last-minute issues. To find out a list of all the necessary paperwork and identification needed, contact your local Italian embassy (you’ll need the basics like passports and birth certificates, as well as other forms of documentation).
That leads me on to the most important piece of advice I can give. Get in touch with both your local Italian Embassy, and the local authority or town hall of your elopement destination. I can’t stress this enough. Legal procedures, requirements and restrictions vary from town to town, so it’s crucial you ensure you’ve got everything in place.
Want to avoid the paperwork headache? A symbolic ceremony is a wonderful option for couples who don’t want to worry about all of the above, or who wish to legally marry at home beforehand. In fact, it’s what most of my eloping couples opt for, wether they elope in Italy or elsewhere.
Symbolic ceremonies aren’t legally binding, but give you the chance to fully personalise your ceremony and make it completely unique to you as a couple. They can take place anywhere, from mystical cliff tops to secret forest hideaways. They also give you the freedom to create something truly memorable – you can have the ceremony performed by a family member, or include songs, rituals, poems, and anything that reflects your relationship.
what to pack for your Italy elopement
What you need to bring depends on the time of year, and
- Bring a daypack. You’re going to be on and off trains, and wandering the streets of beautiful (but roughly paved) towns, so make sure to take along something convenient and without wheels. You’ll thank me later 😉
- Nothing bigger than a carry-on. If you’ve ever hopped off the train in Termini Station with a humongous roller bag, carry-on luggage and your daypack, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a miracle that you even got all that stuff to fit into the train’s tiny luggage compartment, to begin with. Dragging around heavy luggage is not ideal for exploring Italy, especially when using public transport. Leave it at home and travel light.
Italy, country of opposites
Even though I absolutely mean every word when I say that Italy has the best of everything, not every inch of Italy is pristine. When you leave any airport, there are a few miles of hopeless-looking industry, somewhat shabby suburbs and littered roadsides. That being said, I am a firm believer that even in the seemingly ugly there’s always beauty to be found – and if you’d love to explore the Italy-for-Italians, a sunset photo session in the suburbs of Rome might be just your thing.
Italy really is a country of opposites, and I’m super excited to help you find the most beautiful locations for an unforgettable elopement adventure!
I hope this post has helped you zone in on where to elope in italy!
Remember, EVERYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE IS REAL, and in planning your elopement the sky really is the limit.
Hi there, I’m Isis!
I’m here to capture your love, your adventure, your story, just the way it feels.
I shoot intimate weddings and adventurous elopements, and I’ll be there to walk you through every step of the process. From helping you find the perfect location for your vows, to getting you in touch with the best vendors for your day.
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Isis Sturtewagen Photography
Based in The Netherlands, Belgium
Netherlands wedding photographer | Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, The Hague
Belgium wedding photographer | Gent, Bruges, Antwerp, Mechelen
Italy wedding photographer | Tuscany, Florence, Siena, Lazio, Rome, Umbria, Orvieto, Abruzzo
Europe wedding photographer | Scotland, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Morocco