Whether you want to lazily lounge by the shores of Lake Garda or fancy a history-meets-glamour mini-break in venice, Italy has it all...
As featured in the March/April 2014 issue of Brides
Palazzo Avino, Ravello
Go there for:A world-class culinary experience
Pack some seriously loose clothing for your stay at this five-star hotel perched 1,000ft above the Med on Italy's Amalfi coast - you'll need it. Eating and drinking the finest that Italy has to offer is practically obligatory at this family-run, 12th-century former private villa and you won't want to pass up a single foodie delight coming your way.
Ease into your day with an obscenely leisurely breakfast in Terrazza Belvedere, working your way through freshly cooked-to-order eggs, yoghurt, seasonal fruits and local pastries. Then stroll five minutes down the picturesque cobbled streets, where numerous lunch options await. You'd frankly be insane to visit this gorgeous town and not dine at the legendary Cumpa' Cosimo, which is packed with locals as well as tourists, and run by the formidable 'Mama'. Everything on the menu is homemade and as authentic as it comes.
Back at Palazzo Avino, dinner calls. Make sure you swing by the Lobster & Martini Bar first for a sharpener (trust us, one will be sufficient) before you take your seat for the main event at the two-Michelin-starred Rossellinis.
Palazzo Avino may be worth the visit for the food alone, but let's not overlook the generous-sized suites and bedrooms (think chaise lounges, marble bathrooms and sumptuous soft furnishings), the outdoor swimming pool and rooftop hot tub, the private beach club a complimentary shuttle ride away or the faultlessly friendly service (there are two staff to every guest) that will give you the perfect honeymoon.
A double room costs from £234 a night, while suites start at £527 a night; palazzoavino.com
JK Place, Capri Go there for: Breathtaking views Welcome to your super-luxe home-from-home! But the one where you get to overlook Capri's stunning Marina Grande from whatever room you might be looking stylish in at the time. Perhaps you'll be sipping an Aperol Spritz on the wrap-around terrace, munching your way through the vast locally sourced breakfast in the dining room, enjoying a Bellini in the library, or cosying up on a mattressed bed for two next to the giant pool. Wherever you are, there is always that view, neatly framed by the rising and winding streets of Capri town, practically begging to be explored. The interiors are understated chic at its very best. Chrome, dark wood, whites, greys and blues dominate the decor downstairs while bedrooms are a palette of cream, white and black, with the star of the show being your canopied bed.
Service is about as efficient as it gets with general manager Simone Giorgi orchestrating every element of your visit with the kind of speed and perfection of which you can only dream.
During your stay it is absolutely essential to reserve a table at the nearby Da Paolino (The Lemon Tree) for an unforgettable outdoor dinner under a ceiling of lemon trees. The quality of the food on offer is sensational - a whole room is reserved for the dessert buffet - and everything, from baked aubergine and mozzarella to the seafood, is as fresh and moreish as you could possibly imagine. Then enjoy the softly lit walk back to the hotel for one more look at that view.
A double room costs from £410; jkcapri.com
Four Seasons, Florence
Go there for:Romantic decadence
When we say this is 'a room with a view', we're not talking about the one from the window; when you open your eyes in the morning, it's to the sight of a ceiling adorned with Rococo frescoes. Housed in a 5th-century palazzo where nobles including a Medici pope once lived, the Royal Suite's centrepiece is a vaulted gallery (the entire suite is a dizzying 2,518sq ft) featuring an original ceramic floor and comfy sofas to laze about on. And if you love a lose-yourself-in-here bathroom then the Gallery Suite Volterrano, all panelled ceilings and stunning frescos, is the perfect choice. Such is its gorgeousness, you'll have to drag each other outside to explore.
A 15-minute stroll away is the Piazza del Duomo with the awe-inspiring sight of Florence Cathedral. Wander the cobbled streets before trying pistachio ice cream from a gelateria on the way. Be sure to save room for dinner; not only does the hotel have the Michelin-starred Il Palagio restaurant, but the chef can arrange a table on a terrace just big enough for two on the picturesque Ponte Vecchio overlooking the River Arno. For sheer, unadulterated romance, this honeymoon has it all.
A Superior Room costs from £230 a night, while the Della Gherardesca Royal Suite starts at £12,985 a night; fourseasons.com/florence
Gran Meliá, Rome
Go there for:No-effort sightseeing
Of all the locations you could choose to enjoy a passionate honeymoon, a convent might appear somewhere towards the bottom of your list; especially one within blessing distance of the Pope himself. But once you clock Gran Meliá Rome's unrivalled central position in The Eternal City, you'll be convinced. For the couple more interested in chilling than traipsing, this hotel is ideal. The private terrace of the Grand Suite affords a 360-degree view and atop a hillside overlooking the River Tiber, the dome of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican looms large. Better still, sites such as the Pantheon, the Trastevere and the Piazza Navona are just a few minutes' walk away. No wonder the area has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
But despite the historical and cultural wealth, it's inside the hotel's walls - amid 7,500sq m of manicured parkland - that you'll feel truly sanctified. Wander the halls, covered with enormous prints of Caravaggio's masterpieces, and enjoy a meal in the Vivavoce restaurant, from two-Michelin-starred head chef Alfonso Iaccarino. Try the deep-fried oyster, with potato cream and white-peppered lemon chips - it's truly sublime.
Opt for the Red Level service, Gran Meliá's private concierge offering, and the luxury steps up another notch - you'll get your own well-stocked lounge, Clarins toiletries in every room and a choice of six different pillows on call 24 hours a day.
Then there's the vast YHI Wellness spa, with hydro massage treatments, Turkish bath and vitality pool. Not to mention the YHI In White bridal special: after four hours of manicures, pedicures and body scrubs, it's almost worth getting married for this experience alone.
A Deluxe Room costs from £314, B&B; melia.com
Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda
go there for:A luxury home-from-home
Italian vistas don't get much more stunning - or tranquil - than Lake Garda. Unlike the hustle and bustle of the Amalfi coast or the drama of the cities, Lake Garda's appeal is understated elegance. And if undone luxury is your thing, then Villa Feltrinelli, on the shores of the lake, is the place for you.
Despite appearances (neo-Gothic turrets, impressive driveway - the works) this hotel is anything but grandiose and formal. At this 21-bedroom property, guests are made to feel as if they've been invited to stay with friends - no rules apply other than to relax and enjoy. If you're feeling peckish in the middle of the night, help yourself to snacks from the pantry, or if you fancy a movie, the library can be turned into a private cinema room for two. Should you feel like venturing outside, take a stroll to the harbour-side village of Gargnano for proper Italian pizza or head to the other side of the lake on the Villa's private yacht, the Contessa, for lunch at Locanda San Vigilio, with its stunning position overlooking the water. Then return to the hotel, sipping cocktails en route, as the light dapples on your lazy-luxe Italian dream.
A Junior Suite costs from £875 a night, B&B; villafeltrinelli.com
Aman Canal Grande, Venice
Go there for:A glamorous getaway
Venice is made for glamour. And arriving by water taxi on the Grand Canal under the Rialto Bridge is about as glamorous as it gets (just don't forget the celeb-sized sunglasses). You'll be just as impressed with the inside of this hotel - it's dripping in chandeliers and museum-worthy frescos. The owners (a count and his wife, naturally) live on the top floors, which adds to the feeling that you're staying in a lavish home rather than a hotel.
Uniquely, however, instead of heirlooms and antiques, is ultra-modern B&B Italia furniture, letting the historic setting shine against their sleek simplicity. Our pick of the rooms? Well, if you don't splash out on one of the five fresco-filled signature suites, book Room 6 for its stunning Grand Canal views.
After you've stopped gawping (eventually), slip out through the back gate to discover the real Venice. If masks and Murano glass don't float your gondola, seek out contemporary ceramics (we loved the gold-lined espresso cups) at Danghyra's studio (danghyra.com), then head to Rialto Market with its views ofthatbridge - another 'pinch-me' moment.
A double room costs from £830 a night; amanresorts.com
Masseria Torre Maizza, Brindisi
Go there for: Five-star seclusion
With acres of olive groves on one side and views over the Mediterranean on the other, this renovated 16th-centurymasseria(fortified farmhouse) is the epitome of secluded glamour. Tucked away in the Pugliese countryside, rustic charm meets boutique chic here.
But fear not: for 'rustic' there's no need to read 'basic' - while the building has a rural feel, the inside is 100% luxe. Rooms have spa-quality bathrooms (delicious organic products included) alongside interiors-magazine decor, and there's nothing 16th-century about the massive 'where did my husband go?!' mammoth-sized bed.
As with any Italian hotel worth its weight in Parmigiano, the food is delicious. With a menu that is unfussy and a real celebration of local ingredients, it's all about the freshest and the very best quality fare: fish is caught that morning, the olive oil is pressed just down the road, and the bread is warm from the oven. Make it that bit more special by requesting dinner at a candle-lit table beneath the orange trees in the grounds - your meal will be truly magical.
While a stay at the Masseria is all about kicking back, should you find yourself tired of lounging by the pool, lunching at the beach club or simply sipping a perfectly chilled glass of champagne on the bar's outdoor summer terrace, there's plenty to do. Grab a bike and go exploring; try out the nine-hole golf course; book in for a lesson at the cookery school at nearby sister hotel, the long-established and much-lauded Masseria Torre Coccaro, or you could just simply continue the relaxation theme and book in at the Aveda spa or the Hammam.
For ultimate seclusion, the must-book room is the Palm Suite - it has its own walled garden, with private plunge pool and sun loungers. If skinny-dipping and an all-over tan are on your honeymoon to-do list, it makes perfect sense.
A double room costs from £240 a night, B&B; masseriatorremaizza.com
Go there for: The Hollywood-on-sea vibe
On arriving at Palazzo Margherita, the first thing you notice is that it's really not like a hotel at all. There's no sign outside this villa on the main street in the 15th-century hilltop town of Bernalda; in fact nothing to indicate this is anything but a private house. But as soon as the great iron front door swings open, it's apparent this isn't just anyone's house; it's the southern Italian residence of film director Francis Ford Coppola, into which guests are welcomed as if honorary members of the film-making dynasty.
Of the nine suites, several were inspired by members of the famous Coppola clan; elegant yet enormous they are stuffed with antique furniture, Murano glass chandeliers and silk-printed wallpapers. Gia (Suite Eight) was designed as a gift to Gia Coppola, Francis's first granddaughter, and is the hotel's most romantic. The ceiling features a stunning fresco depicting Amore and Psyche, the mythical lovers who inspired the stories of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast (it's believed that the scene bestows a happy marriage to those who lie beneath it). Gia also features its own private dining room, if leaving the suite - even for food - is too much of a stretch. You could spend your days lying by the villa's secluded, sexily moody black pool or Coppola-spotting (the family check in, just like all other hotels). But if energy levels are higher, the staff will arrange any jaunt that takes your fancy - a pasta-making class or even a tour of the hills on an old-fashioned Dutch bike. It's an offer that, surely, no one could refuse.
A double room costs from £407 a night, while the Gia Suite starts at £920 a night, including B&B and cooking lessons; coppolaresorts.com/palazzomargherita