Located at the heart of Italy, Tuscany is a gorgeous region best known for its rolling landscape, sprawling wine estates and a strong cultural identity. It’s so historically and culturally distinct, in fact, that tourists tend to refer to it as a “nation within a nation.” As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, this region is defined by its iconic artwork, its massive wine industry and its medieval architecture. It’s also home to exquisite cities such as Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena – all of which are known the world over.
With all these elements coming together, it’s not a surprise that Tuscany is one of the top tourist destinations in all of Italy. Each year, around two million people come to this region for its art, wine, cuisine and natural beauty. A significant portion of tourists prefer to have their weddings in Tuscany. Yes, the region is one of the best backdrops for tying the knot if you’re coming to Italy to say your vows to the person you love most. The only problem is figuring out where exactly to hold the ceremony and the reception in this triangular patch of land that has an area of about 8,000 square miles across.
To help you make up your mind, we’re listing some of the key elements for a wedding and what Tuscany has to offer for each. This will give you an idea of what to look for and how to plan for costing and logistics. Let’s begin:
Churches are the classic venue for wedding ceremonies in the Christian faith. Italy is home to some of the world’s most iconic churches and Tuscany has a fair share of them. There’s a wide range of churches to get married in, each one with its unique character and history. Tuscan towns have everything from small chapels to grand cathedrals, so there’s an almost infinite set of options for a couple’s special day.
The Tuscan capital of Florence has two of the world’s most famous churches. The San Miniato al Monte Basilica in Florence stands atop the city’s highest point. It was named after Christian martyr St. Miniato who was revered for his devotion to his faith – even at the cost of his own life. The church is hailed as one of the best of its kind in Italy and it’s a perfect place for a couple who have a flair for history.
If you want a church that’s less elevated but even more spectacular, there’s no question that the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the place for you. This is Florence’s main place of worship and it’s one of the finest structures in the Tuscan region. The basilica’s construction started in 1296 and was reportedly finished in 1436. Its large size and its distinctive dome make this church’s exterior a true sight to behold.
Speaking of sights to behold, the Siena Cathedral can hold its own when compared to any church in Tuscany. Dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, this medieval cathedral was built between 1215 and 1263. It bears the pointed and arching design themes of the period, highlighted by its dome and bell tower.
If churches don’t catch your fancy and you want something a little more out of the ordinary, castles may suit your taste. Being a hotbed of medieval architecture, Tuscany has a lot of these structures that have since been converted to tourist attractions and hotels. If you inquire online, you’ll find out that there are a lot of castles that can be used for accommodating various ceremonies including weddings.
Castello di Spaltenna is found in Chianti, the heartland of Tuscan wine estates. This castle allows couples to tie the knot with the landscape serving as a breathtaking backdrop. Equally stunning is the Castello Banfi Il Borgo, a 300+ year old fortified community situated near the Brunello region. What makes it an excellent wedding venue is the fact that it’s on an elevated area that overlooks surrounding vineyards.
Villas, regular hotels and gardens are also great options for your wedding in the region. One of the trends that we’ve noticed lately is the emergence of Agriturismos – farms that can accommodate travelers in comfortable houses. These establishments allow you and your guests to embrace the countryside and they provide more value for money compared to big hotels.
However, if you’re making the long trip from the US to Italy, we suggest that you make the most out of it and go for what you can’t find at home. Tuscany’s churches, castles and wine estates are the highlights of this locale and those are the venues that you should give the most consideration to.
Choosing the right food for your wedding can be a trickier task than choosing the venue. Just about everyone can appreciate great architecture, scenic views and comfortable accommodations. Food is a lot more subjective because what tastes good to you may not taste good to half of the people in your guest list. Some of your family and friends will be excited to try a foreign land’s cuisine while others will want to stick with familiar dishes. It’s a balancing act, no doubt, but the trick is getting a little of everything on the table to make sure there’s at least one entrée that everyone can enjoy.
Tuscan food is known for its freshness, simplicity and strong flavors. You’ll want to serve authentic pici with ragu di cinghiale. Pici is Tuscany’s local pasta variant while ragu di cinghiale is a hearty sauce with wild boar meat as a key ingredient. It’s a filling and tasty combination that most people are bound to enjoy.
Panzanella, on the other hand, is Tuscan bread salad. It’s made of day old bread mixed with fresh tomatoes, basil and red onions. Olive oil and vinegar are used for tossing the salad, creating a light, tasty treat that’s distinct but not too far off what we’re accustomed to in the US.
If your wedding happens anytime from October to March, you may be able to find local wild truffles called Tartufo. This black fungus is so good that Italians have parades and festivals dedicated to it. Tartufo is also versatile enough to be used on everything from pasta to desserts, so ask for it and we guarantee you won’t be sorry.
Sights to See
Being a center of art, history and culture, Tuscany has a wide array of attractions to visit. Some of them are world famous, others are a little less familiar but are equally great. Since you’re having your wedding in Tuscany, you might as well see everything that it has to offer for your honeymoon. Our recommended spots are as follows:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa – We all read about it in books as children, but that doesn’t take away the fact that this tower is both iconic and historic. The beautiful structure leans the way it does due to an imperfect foundation and the soft soil that it’s built on. The end result is a gorgeous tower that leans, but has remained standing, for hundreds of years. It’s within Piazza dei Miracoli which means it’s close to the Pisa cathedral and its awe-inspiring baptistry.
Oltrarno neighborhood – This village close to Florence is unique due to the fact that Renaissance craftsmen still practice their trade here as they did centuries ago. When you walk into this locale, you’ll find masters and their apprentices creating mosaic tables, jewelry and shoes with materials and techniques that are faithful to the ways of centuries past.
Pitigliano – If you want an astounding combination of views and art, this Jewish village located at the ridge of a volcanic rock formation is the place to be. Centuries-old churches are adorned with sculptures inside, giving you a glimpse at an era that transcends the ages. You can then go outside for a look at the picturesque valley that the town overlooks. This site is perfect for taking pictures and passing some romantic time with your new partner in life.
Anchiano – Unfamiliar? Well this small Tuscan town is only the birthplace of the great Leonardo da Vinci! Take a walk in the streets where this genius walked and see where he once lived. There’s a museum you can visit to journey through Da Vinci’s life and marvel at his amazing accomplishments.
Tuscan Hot Springs – Tuscany’s southern part is home to wild hot springs that make for good baths and relaxation. This is perfect for relieving the fatigue of travel and wedding preparations. Hot spring water is known to relax sore muscles for a rejuvenating effect. These hot springs are near Saturnia, so they shouldn’t be hard to find.
Alright, there’s obviously a lot more to holding your wedding in Tuscany but these are the immediate items that you should be aware of. Plan carefully and book everything ahead of time. You’ll realize that you can save a bundle when you do your work early and it eliminates the hassle of waiting and standing in line when you’ve got reservations. Good luck and best wishes!