ITALY ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER // ITALY ELOPEMENT
Even if your only references for what Italy is like are the Lizzie McGuire Movie & Letters to Juliet, you know this country is steeped in romance & culture. The pictures & movies simply don’t do Italy justice, I truly believe you have to see for yourself to really understand how breathtaking it is. In order to visit a place like Italy you need a few things: a valid passport, excellent walking shoes, a hearty appetite, curiosity, & a sense of adventure. There are so many different ways you can experience this country whether that’s the northern, central, or southern areas—each area offers something different.
Regardless of what region of Italy you visit there is no shortage of history—beautiful architecture, museums, chapels, & villages. You can visit the iconic leaning Tower of Pisa, the Basilica Church, Pompeii, or the colosseum. If you don’t want to roam around cobblestone streets eating gelato then you can hike up the Dolomites in northern Italy or lay out on the beaches of Sicily down south.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about planning your elopement in Italy. We’re going to discuss how to prepare for your trip, legalities to keep in mind, the best ways to travel around the country, cultural faux pas, & what the different regions of Italy have to offer. Definitely pour yourself a glass of wine & settle in, because we have a lot to talk about!
COVID has majorly changed what is needed in order to travel from country to country & with things frequently changing with the times it is important to stay up to date on current requirements. Before traveling to Italy be sure to visit the Italian Ministry of Health’s website for the latest updates. As of November 1st, 2021 here are the documents you will need/requirements in order to travel to Italy.
#1 Your passport
#2 Proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid no more than 6 months before your travel date
#3 Negative Covid test no more than 72hrs before entering the country
#4 Digital Passenger Locator Form (PLF) must be completed
Keep in mind you will need to have your vaccination card or proof of recovery in order to enter different shops, restaurants, & tourist attractions while traveling within Italy. I would highly recommend making a copy of your vaccination card & having a copy of it laminated as well!
Allow me to preface this by saying that many couples choose to have a symbolic ceremony & handle legalities at home when it comes to eloping in Italy. It is quite an extensive process to get legally married in Italy (even more so if you want to get married in a church there), but here is a brief rundown of what you will need if you have your heart set on getting legally hitched in Italy.
If you would have a civil ceremony it must be performed by the mayor or one of it’s deputies. You will need a witness of some kind, doesn’t matter who, it just can’t be your interpreter. Lastly, you will also need to rent out the marriage hall which can be anywhere from $500- $9,000 depending on the location. WOW. This doesn’t even include all the paperwork you need if you want to get married in a church in Italy either! If you want an in depth rundown please check out the United States Embassy’s website HERE.
Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of why couples that choose to elope in Italy take care of the legalities at home & have a symbolic ceremony while in Italy. It’s a lot of timing, paperwork, & an avoidable hassle at the end of the day. Instead why not remove all the stress & simply focus on your love for one another when it comes to your elopement. Now onto something way easier than wedding paperwork!
Luckily, getting international coverage isn’t as pricey as it used to be! Talk to your service provider about international options for your trip & give them a heads up before you go. Some phone companies do a flat fee of $10 per day while others do a monthly fee. It’s also a good practice to keep your phone on airplane mode when not in use just to avoid your data being used for roaming.
If you are curious about your options here is a brief overview of the most popular cell carriers & their international usage options.
During my travels I noticed that wifi is pretty easy to find over there, which is nice if you don’t have a heftier data plan. There is sometimes free city wifi, a lot of restaurants/cafes offer it, & your hotel/hostel accommodations likely have it as well. Don’t worry, there are options!
If you’re planning on visiting…
Northern Italy Venice Marco Polo Airport in Venice
Central Italy Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino in Rome
Southern Italy Naples Airport Italy Capodichino in Naples
Getting into Italy is one thing, but you’re probably wondering how to navigate the country once you arrive! You’ll be happy to hear that Italy has excellent public transportation systems that make traveling throughout the country a breeze!
First, let’s start with some handy apps! Navigating unfamiliar public transportation systems can be intimidating so here are two apps to consider downloads before your travels to help you book, find, & use public transportation with confidence!
Moovit is great for mapping out your trip & the different modes of transportation. This app allows you to buy tickets for buses/trains, provide live navigation/updates, & can act as a digital wallet for your tickets. This app is especially great for navigating the bus system.
Omio also helps when it comes to planning your trip & buying tickets. It is very similar to Moovit, but I found it most useful when it comes to buying tickets for trains & navigating the train systems.
The Trenitalia is the national railway of Italy—an excellent way to explore the country with high speed trains capable of bringing you to the other side of the country & extensive regional train lines to explore the city you’re in. ItaliaRail is a service to book your tickets through & I would highly recommend booking online to avoid waiting in line at the station! You can book through ItaliaRail HERE. If you’re booking at the station in person keep in mind that stations are increasingly only accepting cards that have chips embedded in them. With that being said, yes, you can use your credit card to book your ticket. Prices are listed in US dollars so there will be no exchange fee! How convenient is that?! If you’d like to take a peek at the train system HERE is a map where you’ll be able to see just how many parts of the country you can access via train.
Although in the states Uber is commonly a cheaper choice over taxis it is the reverse in Italy; you’ll pay way more for an Uber. However when it comes to taxis there are a few things you should know! Unlike the New York rom coms we all love you cannot hail a taxi in Italy. You will either have to call to schedule a pick up based on the area you’re in or find a taxi stand where taxis que up. Please be sure not to get into any unlicensed vehicle claiming to be a taxi! An official taxi will be a special color according to the city, seals on the door, & special plates. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t Uber around—just something to consider!
Simply put, only rent a car if you are looking to travel to smaller towns & regions that are inaccessible to shuttles, buses, & trains. With that being said, if renting a car is your best option, there are a few things you should know!
Although renting a car isn’t majorly expensive in Italy, you do have to contend with high gas prices, expensive tolls, majority manual transmission vehicles, & just the overall adjustments of navigating the roads of a country you aren’t familiar with. I highly recommend getting insurance for your rental! Not only will you be in an area you’re unfamiliar with, but you’ll also be navigating narrow streets, a lot of roundabouts, & different street systems. This is definitely a “better safe than sorry” scenario!
Lastly, don’t forget to get your international driver’s permit before your trip! Italy now requires that drivers coming from non-EU countries have an IDP. Don’t worry, this will only cost you $15 & you can apply through AAA.
Although a lot of churches, chapels, & museums in Italy are considered “tourist attractions” it’s important to remember that there are sacred religious places. Guards outside of areas like the Vatican have no issue turning away people that are not dressed appropriately. Now, let’s talk about how to avoid that!
The rules are fairly simple: cover your knees, shoulders, & feet. This applies to every gender.
If you’re visiting during the hotter months I would recommend packing a shawl you can throw on, lightweight midi dresses/skirts, or leggings you can pull on. Convertible (cargo) pants & linen pants are a great option for staying cool! Some areas aren’t as strict as others, but as a visitor to those areas we should all make an effort to be as respectful as possible!
Here are a few very basic words/phrases to know before you go to Italy (and seriously download a translation app!!):
Hello – Ciao
Thank you – Grazie
Thank you so much – Grazie mille
Please – Per favore
Excuse me – Scusi
Your welcome – Prego
Bathroom – bagno
Where is the bathroom? – Dov’è il bagno
Natural Water – Acqua naturale
These simple & essential everyday words will go a long way during your travels—trust me!
There are so many convenient ways to learn languages nowadays, however it’s becoming increasingly easy to navigate other countries without knowing the language thanks to technology. Don’t let not knowing Italian deter you from visiting!! It’s super handy to download translation apps that can be used offline during your travels! Here are two of my favorites:
#1 Google translate
This one is especially great because you can actually take pictures of different signs & it’ll translate them for you!
#2 Italian-English Dictionary
Although it’s always great to have a physical dictionary when traveling, it’s also nice to have one right at your finger tips for quick translations!
#1 A typical breakfast typically consists of something small & sweet with a cappuccino. I’m sorry if you love brunch & big breakfasts… it’s just not a big deal there. It’s the smallest meal of the day & no one makes a fuss over it.
#2 Lunch isn’t typically served past 2 pm. In fact, a lot of places close between 2-3pm for the afternoon & evening until 7:30pm. Of course high traffic tourist areas are more accommodating, but if you are traveling to other areas don’t be surprised if you see restaurants closing mid day for a break. (A lot of grocery stores close around this time as well!)
#3 Sparkling water is the default at restaurants. They will ask you at meals if you want water & make sure you say “acqua naturale” otherwise you will get sparkling water. Also, keep in mind that water comes in pitchers & you pay per pitcher.
#4 They eat dinner later in the evening. When I say late, I mean restaurants open around 7:30pm, but the dinner rush isn’t until 10pm. Don’t be surprised if the restaurant you choose to dine at is pretty empty for the first hour it’s open!
#5 Don’t skip the pizza. Yes, I can attest that everything you’ve heard is true, pizza in Italy is simply better than anywhere else. Don’t be surprised if they bring you a pizza that isn’t sliced, typically you do it yourself with a fork & knife. Also don’t skip out on regional specialties!#6 Tipping isn’t expected in restaurants. This may sound strange coming from the states where tipping 20% is customary. If you do choose to tip, don’t tip on the same scale as we do in the states, 1 or 2 euro will suffice!
Regardless of what region of Italy you are wanting to visit, the most pleasant weather is between April-June & September-October; skipping the high traffic tourist season & heat of summer. If you venture to Italy outside of tourist season & the shoulder seasons it is likely the areas that serve tourists will have limited business hours & some hotels may even be closed entirely. On the flip side, if you are looking to have a snowy wedding & partake in snow sports then Italy has a plethora of ski resorts in the Northern region. Really there is no “wrong” time to visit Italy, it’s all up to what you prefer to experience during your visit.
Spring 55-80°F | Fall 45-65°F
Northern Italy is the most topographically diverse area of Italy. If you’re looking for dramatic mountains as your elopement backdrop it’s hard to beat the Dolomites alps! This is one area of Italy that is great to visit during the winter time if you are interested in staying at a resort & doing winter sports! During the warmer months this area has breathtaking vistas, crystalline lakes, & meadows of wild flowers. Some of the bigger cities to explore in this region are Milan, Venice, & Verona. In this area you can really do it ALL: mountains, beaches, vineyards, historic cities, etc.
Spring 60-80°F | Fall 55-70°F
Central Italy is home to some of the staples of Italy that we all know—Rome, Vatican, Tuscany… I could go on & on. If you are a history buff & want to immerse yourself in the culture there is really no better place to visit. You can visit landmarks such as the Colosseum & the leaning tower of Pisa. After you’re done exploring the more populous tourist areas you’re only a short train ride away from scenic countryside & the cobblestone streets of small villages.
Spring 70-85°F | Fall 65-75°F
The southern regions of Italy are easily recognizable as it’s iconic coastline, rolling hills, & incredible architecture are constantly featured in movies & magazines. The Amalfi Coast is 34 miles of painted-terraced villages, sea cliffs, & pristine beaches; surely you’ve seen photos of the pastel towns overlooking ocean coves. Further inland you’ll find rolling hills of olive groves & vineyards. You’ll also find the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily, offers oceans, vineyards, mountains, & even volcanoes!
Surely at this point you truly understand what Lizzie Miquire was singing about in What Dreams Are Made Of, because Italy is truly remarkable. Think of how easy it would be to fly into a major city, galavant around, take a train to another part of the country, get married in the countryside, hop on the next train, & spend your honeymoon on a coastal island. The possibilities!! This blog post doesn’t even begin to cover all of the different local delicacies, amazing museums, festivals, & activities you could experience during your elopement in Italy. After doing my own adventuring there, & crazy internet stalking of the different areas, I’d love to help you pick the perfect area of Italy to elope in. Can you imagine the sheer romance? Can you imagine the post elopement gelato?! If you have any questions about how to get started, you can reach me HERE.