The Best Places to Elope in Italy 2023, for couples looking for an Italian Destination Wedding that’s Off the Beaten Track. This list features Italian gems you may never have heard of, from Procida and Marsala in the south, to Villa Monastero and Malcesine in the north, including examples of what your unique Italian elopement day could look like!
You’ve no doubt seen all the standard lists of the Best Places to Elope in Italy. Inevitably, they include the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, the Dolomites, a specific famous Villa on Lake Como (here’s looking at you, Villa del Balbianello!), and a few more little spots are thrown in for good measure. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these destinations. They’re well-known for only the very best reasons (and I’ve even shared a few of them in my Ultimate Guide to How to Elope to Italy). But, well… they’re on every list! And there is so, so much more to Italy.
If you’re planning to elope to Italy, and you’ve found yourself here, I’m sure you already know about these places, and what you’re really looking for is something different. You’re looking for Where to Elope in Italy, sure, but you want to elope in authentic, hidden Italy. You want an experience that is unique & special to the two of you, a location and an experience that you’ll look back on with so much joy for the rest of your lives.
Well then, you’re in the right place, and boy oh boy do I have some ideas for you!
Do you dream of eloping under colourful buildings that cascade into the Mediterranean Sea, lazing under stripey beach umbrellas, and exploring the art & history Italy is famous for? Don’t worry! I’m not about to flog the wares of the Amalfi Coast (again), instead, a tiny little island in the Bay of Naples called Procida. Procida is known to very few international tourists – I’d go so far as to say it’s even known to very few Italians – who instead favour the famed heights of Capri and the relaxed shores of Ischia.
Don’t discount this little fisherman’s island though. It’s got everything you could possibly want for your Italian Elopement, and then some. In fact, at the start of 2022, Procida was named Italy’s Capital of Culture thanks to its efforts not just to highlight art, but also its urban regeneration and sustainability projects. Most importantly, Procida doesn’t intend to let this award get to its head, recognising that the island’s humble roots are what make it so special. This also happens to be why Procida is one of the Best Places to Elope in Italy Off the Beaten Track 2023.
So, why elope to Procida? Here, you’ll find all the things the Amalfi Coast is famous for, plus wild beaches, easily accessible art & culture, minus the crowds. There are plenty of accommodations boasting private terraces that look across the Mediterranean where you could exchange vows and share dinner cooked by a private local chef. You could drive across the island for your Italian Elopement Photography, stopping along the way whenever something takes your fancy, even heading to one of the island’s beautiful beaches for a refreshing swim. Take your pick between the white sand of Chiaia beach and the black sand of Pozzo Vecchio! If you’re lucky, perhaps we could even arrange for you to have wedding portraits at a private island nature reserve, linked to Procida by a single bridge.
When I first saw an image of the Terme di Saturnia, completely by accident, I did some sleuthing to find out where it was and then called a friend and said, ‘what are you doing in 3 weekends time?’ ‘Uh, nothing, perché?’ ‘Because I booked an Airbnb in Saturnia and you’re coming with me!’.
I’ll admit, the drive from Milano to Saturnia was a little long just for a weekend, but the Terme di Saturnia was well worth it. Not to mention, they’d make an epic addition to any Tuscan Elopement! Terme in Italian means hot springs, and the natural Saturnia hot springs are wonderfully relaxing and truly beautiful (don’t mistake them, officially known as the Cascate di Mulino, for the hotel that conveniently called itself ‘Terme di Saturnia’). The natural hot springs are free to access, and unique because of the way the spring has formed calcium pools that flow down to the river below.
Asides from the chance to take beautiful, intimate elopement photos together at the hot springs, the countryside around Saturnia is also truly special. The Maremma is famous for its variety of landscapes, its wine, and its ancient history stretching all the way back to the Etruscans. The unassuming towns that surround Saturnia are filled with hidden secrets, including restaurants recommended by the Michelin guide and artisan workshops built into cliffside caves. Not to mention the vineyards the Maremma is famous for or the unique seaside town of Orbetello just an hour’s drive away.
Eloping to Saturnia would give you a chance not only to have an incredibly unique elopement, that incorporates the hot springs, but also a true Italian experience of dolce far niente. Stay in a small sustainable Airbnb built into the olive groves for complete privacy. Plan a long table dinner for you and your ten favourite people in those same olive groves, or book a table at a nearby restaurant run by unassuming locals making food so good you’ll dream of it for life. Early in the morning, head over to the Terme di Saturnia for portraits and a relaxing soak in the healing sulphuric waters. You could even incorporate a wine tasting at a local vineyard or get married on the nearby coast, and save the Terme di Saturnia for an intimate morning after session.
PS. If you love the idea of incorporating natural wild hot springs into your Tuscan Elopement, but you’re also obsessed with the Val d’Orcia (understandable!), then check out the Hot Springs of Bagni San Filippo!
I’m not going to lie, choosing just one location in Sicilia to share with you on this list wasn’t easy. Sicily is filled with epic locations for an elopement, from the Scala dei Turchi to the Tonnara di Scopello, the baroque streets of Noto to the charms of Cefalù. So why did I choose the Marsala Salt Pans? Well, it’s just a little different, and this is a list of the Best Places to Elope in Italy: Off the Beaten Track, after all!
The salt pans aren’t just a culturally important and fascinating site, where some of the workers still harvest salt without modern technology, they’re also truly beautiful. Windmills dot the salt pans which change from pink to blue to white, as the salt forms and mixes with the Mediterranean Sea. The piles of salt and beautiful pools add a rustic charm and the sunsets here are something else.
For those of you who aren’t early risers, the Salt Pans of Marsala are also one of the few locations around Italy where I’m confident recommending a sunset portrait session instead of sunrise. While this is a tourist destination, it’s also a working salt pan, so there would never be an overwhelming crowd. Plus, it’s possible to book a private tour if you’d like.
If you choose to elope to the Marsala Salt Pans, you’ll be treated to a truly unique Italian elopement experience (and get some epic Italian elopement photos, to boot!). Stay in a beautiful agriturismo, Italian farm stays that can be as luxurious or as rustic as you’d like, designed to make the most of the countryside. Or here, you can spend 4 nights in a 5-star hotel for less than what you’d pay for a single night on the Amalfi Coast (seriously)!
Make the most of your day by planning a long-table dinner in a field if you’ve invited your nearest and dearest to celebrate with you, or plan a romantic dinner for two if it’s just the two of you. You can share your vows in a symbolic ceremony at the salt pans, out in the fields, or at any of the amazing beaches in the area. And hey, you could even plan an intimate party at the Tonnara di Scopello or any of the amazing boutique accommodations in the area, and save the Marsala Salt Pans for an intimate portrait session the evening before or after your official Italian wedding day.
True story – I got into a bit of a debate on Facebook (I know, I know) last year in a destination wedding photography group with some photographers (not from Italy) who said that you absolutely could not elope to Lake Como. It breaks my heart that people believe this! Yes, Lake Como is most famous for its celebrity-owned villas and luxury, star-studded parties. In the wedding world, it’s known for blow-out budgets, epic villas, and all-designer everything. But this famous lake is home to oh so much more, like Villa Monastero.
Villa Monastero is found in Varenna, one of my favourite tiny towns in the central lake area, with colourful buildings lining a corner of the lake that has views in nearly every direction. You can arrive here by direct train from Milan and it’s just a few-minute ferry ride to all of Lake Como’s most famous towns from Bellagio to Menaggio, Tremezzo to Lenno. If you’re travelling by car, it’s easy to navigate as well (although reading the ferry timetables takes a little bit of practice either way!).
The Villa itself is a truly spectacular place to share your vows. It was originally a 12th-century convent (how cool is Italy?), and has a long history as a private estate, having been owned by 16th-century mining magnates, wealthy 17th-century Spanish government officials, and eventually, a state-owned museum. The Villa itself isn’t even the drawcard though – it’s the lush botanical gardens and the spectacular lookout at its far end, with stunning morning light, beautiful arched columns and characteristic colourful tiling.
Here, you can elope on a budget, or you can treat yourself to a luxury private boat tour and stay in a 5-star Grand Hotel. It’s entirely up to you! Like most of the villas on Lake Como, you will need a permit to take photos, but it’s a lot more affordable than most of the other lakeside locations. Before you head to the Villa though, wake up with the sun for a beautiful portrait session around Varenna. We can start near the ferry terminal and then work our way through Varenna’s sweet winding lanes, colourful facades, and cobblestone staircases, stopping at a secret beach for photos, before arriving at Villa Monastero. From there, you can either hike up to the Castello di Vezio for panoramic views of the lake, or book a private boat tour for those classic Lake Como shots.
Speaking of Lakes, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include one of my personal favourites for Where to Elope in Italy, Lake Garda! Lake Garda, or Lago di Garda, is Lake Como’s lesser known, more adventurous sibling. Located between Milan and Venice, and spread across three different Italian regions, this lake has a little something for everyone, from luxurious thermal hot springs in the south to mountain hikes and kitesurfing in the north. For today though, I’d love to introduce you to Malcesine. Found on the north-west shores of the Lake in the Veneto region (home to Venice and Verona), this sweet little town looks straight out of the pages of a fairy tale. It has colourful facades dotted with plants and hanging vines, beautiful winding laneways, and a truly gorgeous castle.
In fact, Malcesine’s Castle is the reason I discovered Malcesine! A beautiful client of mine reached out to me and said, ‘I want to get married by the lake and my partner wants to get married in a castle!’ Malcesine was the perfect solution. They also hoped to have elopement photos with lemon trees and olive groves, and Lake Garda has no shortage of those.
Stay in a sweet little Airbnb and explore the beautiful towns Lake Garda has to offer, from Gargnano to Riva del Garda, and don’t forget to stop at Malcesine’s amazing gelateria, Gelateria L’Artigiano dei Sapori. We could even make that a breakfast stop-off after a sunrise portrait session, where we’ll make the most of the soft morning light and empty streets of Malcesine and its neighbouring villages. Share your vows at Malcesine’s Castle, and take a minute for some portrait photos, before heading off to the small local dock, where your private boat tour will be waiting for you. The boat tour is a chance to see Lake Garda from a different angle, so pop a bottle of prosecco and enjoy!
Last, but most definitely not least, on my list of Best Places to Elope in Italy 2023, is the Valle d’Itria in Puglia. If you’ve been following my adventures (either as an Italian Elopement Photographer or just my personal travel stories), you might have noticed I have a big old soft spot for Puglia. This region, known as the heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, is truly spectacular. It oozes culture and understated luxury coastal vibes, while also being rustic and authentic. Really, I could wax lyrical about this region and still not feel I’d done it justice, from the crystal-clear waters and luxurious Masserie of Salento to the wild national park of Gargano. But if you’re planning to elope in Italy, for me, you can’t go past the Valle d’Itria.
The Valle d’Itria is home to so many beautiful towns and villages, each with its own rich history, incredible architecture, and endless plates of delectable food, typical not just to the Puglia region, but to each town itself. Possibly the most famous part of the Valle d’Itria is the UNESCO-listed Alberobello, with its quirky dome-shaped trulli – but there’s so much more! This area is also home to the famous cliffy beach of Polignano a Mare, the whitewashed hilltop city of Ostuni, and the baroque facades of Lecce. Across the region, olive groves stretch out over red dirt plains and the sea meets beautiful towns designed to confuse pirates and marauders (and these days, tourists!).
The Valle d’Itria is one of the Best Places to Elope in Italy: Off the Beaten Track for 2023 because it is the perfect location to explore hidden, authentic Italy for an elopement just the two of you, or an intimate wedding. Book your stay in any one of the incredible renovated Trulli that dot the Valle d’Itria’s expansive countryside for a truly unique backdrop. Share your vows by the trullo or in the olive groves that will no doubt surround it, and have a local nonna or private chef prepare lunch for you on the trullo’s private grounds. Then take your pick for portrait photos, from the famous White City of Ostuni to the cliffy limestone coastline of Polignano a Mare. Spend the days on either side of your elopement lazing by the pool and exploring all the very best towns in Puglia.
And don’t worry, like I do for all of my clients, I’ll share my very own guide to Puglia with you, so that you can explore only the best that Puglia has to offer!
Would you like me to help you put together a unique itinerary for your own Italy Elopement, and photograph it beautifully for you to look back on for life? Whether you’ve fallen in love with one of these Best Places to Elope in Italy 2023, or you’re curious about other destinations Off the Beaten Track, I’d love to help. Just get in touch!
Do you have any questions about eloping in Italy or choosing the best location for you? Shout out in the comments below!