If you’ve ever dreamed of eloping in Europe, it’s most likely that you’ll find the magic you’re looking for in Italy. It’s hard to find a part of Italy without enchanting scenery; the rolling hills with vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, the mountain peaks and sparkling crystal lakes, as well as the Mediterranean and the Adriatic seaside and the whimsical islands. In this curated guide to eloping in Italy, I’ll guide you through all of the specifics so you can start dreaming of your special day.
Quick note for same-sex couples: most websites will tell you that you can legally get married in Italy, but this is not true. Same-sex marriage is still not legal in Italy. What you can do is a civil union, but as much as most of the internet seems to disagree with me, this is not the same as marriage. More about this: Same-sex couples in Italy.
Why you should Elope in Italy
It’s important to note before we dive into the dreaming that many locations can be reached by car, boat, railway or cable car. Others, however are so secluded that they require you to hike. With that in mind, let’s begin…
Although there are a thousand reasons I could give you to elope in Italy, the following are sure to be in your top ten!
With breathtaking mountains, rolling hills, peaceful lakes, exceptional beaches, spectacular cliffs and tranquil islands, Italy’s got everything. From lush green and snowy to rocky and sandy, whatever kind of nature you are looking for, you’ll be able to find it in Italy as it stretches from the Alps into the Mediterranean Sea.
With 24 National Parks, chances are that if you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ve visited at least one of them – maybe without even knowing it! Unlike US National Parks, Italy’s National Parks don’t have entrance fees and aren’t just nature focused, but also make sure to show the cultural and historical heritage of this beautiful country.
With an estimated total of 100,000 monuments, Italy has a lot to offer to those who enjoy incredible architecture, and not just in Rome, Florence and Venice. There’s the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Ostuni (The White City) and Alberobello with its cone-shaped Trulli Houses. And then there are beautiful fountains, art galleries, castles and farmhouses spread all over the country.
Eat, pray, love – while she could have easily done all three of them in Italy, it’s clear why the eat-part couldn’t have been placed anywhere else. What’s not to love about Italian food?
Italian food is fresh, simple and made with passion. Italian chefs don’t like to complicate things by mixing too many elements, so you actually taste the few high quality ingredients that the dish is made of purely and deliciously. Oh, and let’s not forget about their wine!
If you have any food allergies or intolerances, Italy tends to be the perfect country too as most of their chefs know how to work without any cross contamination. (I’m speaking from experience as a celiac myself.)
Where to Elope in Italy
In Northern Italy you’ll find the Alps with the Aosta Valley and the Dolomites including Lago di Braies, as well as Lake Como, and the other Lakes of the Italian Lake District like Lake Garda. The north is also home to beautiful cities like Milan, Venice, Bologna and Genua, and the beautiful small coastal towns like Cinque Terre.
Some of the most enchanting places in Central Italy are Rome and Tuscany with the cities Florence and Sienna. In Southern Italy you’ll find the famous Amalfi Coast, but also Ostuni and some other hidden gems in Puglia. And last but not least Insular Italy, with Sardinia and Sicily.
Let’s look at a few of Italy’s most beautiful elopement areas if you’re wanting mostly nature:
Archipelago della Maddalena
If you love small Mediterranean islands, you’ll love the Maddalena Archipelago between Corsica and Sardinia. There are seven larger islands and many smaller ones, which are obviously best visited by boat. You’ll find both sandy as well as rocky beaches, and turquoise water.
Val d’Orcia, Tuscany
With the famous lush green Tuscan hills, Val d’Orcia is a beautiful place for your elopement with or without guests. Stay at a beautiful villa and say your vows at a vineyard or visit some of its beautiful towns to combine nature with architecture.
Riserva dello Zingaro, Sicily
You’ll find lots of hiking trails in this protected area, the Zingaro Natural Reserve. With beautiful beaches, coves and diverse flora and fauna, this is a great place for a nature elopement. Be careful in summer, because it gets very hot!
With its rocky mountains, lush green meadows and beautiful viewpoints, it’s a perfect place for a hiking elopement, as well as a lovely place for families. Many beautiful spots can be reached by cable car, which makes this area even accessible if you have a physical disability and still want a mountain elopement.
Lake Garda or Lake Como
Weddings at Lake Garda are very popular with the locals, international couples tend to visit Lake Como to get married. Both are beautiful lakes surrounded by beautiful nature, mountains and cute towns. Of course for the full experience, you have to get on a boat at some point if you decide to say your vows at one of these lakes. There is one island in Lake Como, but I don’t believe that visiting it is essential. Lake Garda has more islands that I think are definitely worth a visit.
Next are my favorite cities for a city elopement in Italy:
Rome is simply enchanting. No matter where you look, its architecture is incredibly beautiful. If you want to elope in Rome I suggest waking up early so you have the city to yourselves even if it’s just for a little moment. Don’t like waking up early? Then choose a place with a rooftop where you can say your vows before heading into the city to get a gelato.
Dive into the city of the Medici family. As soon as you set food in Florence you’ll see that this family loved art. As I grew up between artists, this city speaks to my heart. Start your day at the Piazzale Michelangelo, visit the Boboli Gardens, enjoy a long lunch at the slightly less touristy Piazza Santo Spirito and take some photos of the old bridge Ponte Vecchio from one of its neighboring bridges at sunset. If you’re here for a multiple day elopement, you might want to combine it with the beautiful Tuscan hills south of the city.
Venice – Milan – Verona
Venice is a beautiful, unique city and the perfect place for a boat elopement in a city! Milan is stunning and easily combined with Lake Como, whereas Verona is really lovely and easily combined with Lake Garda
Some of Italy’s smaller towns are worth considering too:
Lake District towns
Como and Bellagio at Lake Como are both definitely worth a visit, as well as the much less visited Lecco. Then there’s romantic little Lovere at Lake Iseo, and Sirmione on the southern bank of Lake Garda is just gorgeous.
Towns in Puglia
The White City Ostuni, the cone-shaped Trulli Houses of Alberobello and the beautiful seaside town Monopoli – Puglia is easily forgotten especially when it comes to elopements, but it really has a lot to offer.
The town Capri on the island Capri in the Gulf of Naples is perfect for almost any kind of elopement, it such a romantic place! You could hike out of town up to one of the viewpoints for sunrise, enjoy the beautiful town for lunch and board a boat for sunset. It gets very busy in July and August, so you might want to look at May/June or September if you’re looking for warm weather without a gigantic crowd.
With very touristy towns like Sorrento and vertical town Positano, as well as some smaller quieter places like Praiano (great starting point for hikes) and Conca dei Marini, the Amalfi Coast is just incredibly beautiful. You could take a boat out in Positano, find a roodtop in Sorrento, go for a hike, go swimming. Like Capri, and basically like most of Italy, it’s definitely busier in July and August. On top of that the Amalfi Coast is hard to reach, you need a car and there are few roads. So keep in mind that traffic jams can easily and suddenly happen – and can keep you in traffic for a long time.
Unlike the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre are reachable by train. You’ll find the following five towns in this area: Monterosso al Mare, great for families and people with mobility issues. Vernazza, a busy but car-free fishing village. Corniglia with its spectacular views, the quietest and a great place for hiking. Manarola, possibly the most romantic village. And Riomaggiore which you can hike to from Manarola in 30 minutes over Via dell’Amore (the Lover’s Lane).
All of these places can be spectacular locations for your elopement, it all depends on what the two of you really want for your adventure. Contact me for more info about the elopement possibilities in these places.
When to Elope in Italy
Generally speaking April/May/June and September/October are the best months to elope in Italy. Of course it all depends on the exact location that you are going for, the activities that you have in mind and how much you mind being surrounded by other tourist. Personally my favorite time a year for an elopement in Italy is late September / early October, when the tourism has quieted down and the weather still tends to be fairly mild.
Can we Legally get Married in Italy?
Yes, you don’t need to be an Italian resident to be able to have a civil ceremony in this beautiful Southern European country.
No, not really. You can access a civil union, which provides several of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage. This way you become registered partners, but not spouses. The way the paperwork gets translated once you return home, depends on your country – if your country has something like civil unions or registered partnership, most probably you’ll be registered like that.
How to Legally get Married when you Elope in Italy
The steps you need to take to make things possible depend on where you are from. It’s best to start planning your legal elopement at least 6 months in advance, as you’ll probably need to get some of your documents translated and have certain appointments in advance of your civil wedding. Though you might be able to make things happen in 3 months or even less, depending on your home country.
If you’re interested in learning more about the exact requirements for your partner and you, send me a message and I’ll guide you through the process.
Civil weddings as well as civil union ceremonies are conducted in Italian and officiated by the local mayor or by the civil registrar with an interpreter present to translate the ceremony and vows. The ceremony takes place at the town hall or at another authorized venue, it lasts about 20 minutes and you’ll have to bring two witnesses. This unfortunately means that you cannot legally get married outdoors or at just any venue to you liking.
Why I tend to recommend a Symbolic Ceremony instead
A symbolic or a commitment ceremony isn’t legally binding, however, many couples opt for a ceremony like this when eloping abroad. You can choose to get married in your own country before or after eloping, or to just not get officially married at all – make sure you check what this means for you both legally and financially.
A symbolic ceremony means that you won’t have to deal with all the paperwork nor play by the rules of the country that you’ve chosen for your adventure. Some couples have told me they prefer their elopement to be just between the two of them and to have no governments involved. Other couples found it all too complicated or wanted to elope last-minute and didn’t have time to arrange everything necessary.
For Italy specifically, the fact that same-sex couples cannot get married here on top of the rule that you have to get married at a specifically assigned venue in order for it to be legal, are for many reasons enough to go for a symbolic ceremony instead.
Italy Elopement Timelines, Packages and Pricing
Curious to find out what a timeline could look like? Check this page for more info about Italy elopement timelines, packages and pricing: Italy Elopement Packages or contact me for more personalized information.