Romantic Europe: Italy’s Most Iconic Love Nests 

When planning the Italian Honeymoon of their dreams, newlywed advisor Leslie Canter Swanson and husband Bo Swanson sought properties with histories of romance and a heritage of style.

Leading up to my wedding, I gave thought to the somethings old and new, borrowed and blue, but as a Virtuoso travel advisor, it was hard not to put most of my focus on the honeymoon. I wanted to ensure that my new husband and I followed in the footsteps of the most iconic lovers of Italy, which has captured the imagination, sparked inspiration and remained an enduring escape for lovers for generations. It was a natural choice. 

As I planned our dream honeymoon, I worked with Essence of Italy and Waterstone Marketing and focused on properties with a history of love and a commitment to la dolce vita. It should come as no surprise that we selected Villa Cora, Hotel Il Pellicano and Hotel Hassler as key destinations.

Hotel Villa Cora

Romance is always in the air in Florence and in no place is it more alive than at Villa Cora. Built in the mid-19th century by a German baron to honor his young bride, the villa is an artful ode to love. Carrara marble and Murano glass accent the playful frescoes that decorate every room, while gilded friezes and marble statues inspire fantasies of whirling gowns and handsome nobility of grand events past. 

Luxury Travel Advisor’s ULTRA Summit

May 21-23, 2019 | Reunion | Kissimmee, FL

This exclusive, invite-only event focused on the luxury travel market brings together world-class travel agency owners and managers with the most opulent, luxury suppliers to cultivate collaboration, share insights, and help carve a path into the future of luxury travel.

Villino Eugenia at Villa Cora is home to the spa and overlooks the Boboli Gardens. 

Mornings feel fresh in Florence — particularly on the terrace of Villa Cora, which sits amidst lush landscaping and gardens just beyond the walls of Boboli Gardens. Cappuccinos and a light breakfast are served before guests explore the city or relax by the villa’s private pool. We enjoyed leisurely strolls down the cobblestone streets of Florence and explored small shops for local treasures. Our favorites included Il Papiro and the historic Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. 

No visit to Florence is complete without tasting some of the region’s top wines, and the concierge at Villa Cora knew just where to go. Podere Le Ripi was our first stop; it did not disappoint, and we highly recommend a visit. Just outside of Montalcino, Podere Le Ripi is far off the tourist track and crafts unique, natural Brunello wines that are worth the drive. 

As the sun sets, guests would unwind and sip Aperol Spritz cocktails or wines on the rooftop of the villa. With a slight breeze, quiet sunset and unobstructed views of the city and the majestic Duomo, it is easy to feel touched by the magic of the setting.

At Hotel Il Pellicano, every morning begins with a view of the sea.

Hotel Il Pellicano

With picturesque Cinque Terre to its north and the buzzy Positano and Capri to the south, it’s easy to overlook the Monte Argentario and the gem of the Tuscan coast, Hotel Il Pellicano. But for those looking for a hideaway away from the crowds, that would be a mistake.

Nestled in a private cove along the craggy coast of Monte Argentario, the hotel was conceived as the private love nest of a glamourous American socialite and a dashing British aviator in the 1950s. The couple opened the hotel as a private club for friends and, soon, Hotel Il Pellicano became the destination of choice for the summer jetset.

Rooms at Hotel Il Pellicano (here) are tucked into the hillside with each offering spectacular views.

These days, the hotel has the feel of the chic private club of a tastemaker friend. Mornings at Il Pellicano begin with cappuccinos and The Pellican Post Daily on the terrace of the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, which overlooks the sea. After breakfast, it is not uncommon for guests to enjoy a mid-morning tennis match or a visit to the spa. My husband and I spent lots of time on the grass court and the staff were eager to show their support. The ladies at the spa cheered for “girl power,” while the bellmen half-joked that he should never lose but win only by a little.

In the afternoon, guests in brightly colored trunks and Missoni cover-ups make their way down stone steps to Il Pellicano’s iconic tiered beach. Where once the likes of Slim Aarons and Jackie O sipped Aperol Spritzes, guests relax and read, while enjoying creative cocktails mixed with elixirs from the iconic Florentine pharmacy, Santa Maria Novella. 

Hotel Il Pellicano’s famous steps to the private beach, where guests from Slim Aarons to Jackie O have soaked up the Mediterranean sunshine.

As night falls at Il Pellicano, guests return to the restaurant terrace for good food, fine wines and views of the sea that wipe all cares away. With the sound of the bar piano and gentle laughter to set the mood, it’s easy to understand why Hotel Il Pellicano has remained a cherished home away from home for its glamorous guests for so long.

Hotel Hassler Roma

As we continued our journey through Italy, it only made sense that we conclude our trip in the Eternal City at the Hotel Hassler. For over a century, the Hotel Hassler has welcomed esteemed guests with the familiarity and grace of a personal palazzo. The hotel is an icon of hospitality that has provided a stalwart sense of glamour and sophistication to a city of passion. 

At the Hotel Hassler in Rome, the couple got to sample the newly refreshed rooms.

Set atop the quintessentially Roman “Piazza di Spagna,” or Spanish Steps, the hotel has played a role in momentous international events, while maintaining a high level of service and hospitality stemming from an illustrious heritage. The hotel’s bar was a favorite of former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower and the sixth floor panoramic dining room was one of the first restaurants in Rome to re-open after World War II.

These days, mornings in Rome begin with (more) cappuccinos on the patio followed by (more) leisurely walks through the cobblestone lanes surrounding the hotel. History is not hard to find and most major attractions are within walking distance of the Hassler. Castel Sant’Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Pantheon and Roman Forum are all within walking distance — with a gelato shop or two along the way to break up the journey.

At Hotel Hassler Roma, guests should not miss the rooftop patio to sip champagne and watch the pastel-pink sunsets fade over St. Peter’s Square.

We enjoyed the wonderful views from the rooftop terrace in the evenings. Couples young and old would often unwind with champagne and binoculars to watch the sun set against a brilliant pink sky, heightening the drama of back-lit cupolas, basilicas and monuments. Knowledgeable staff members are always on hand to freshen a glass or offer insight into the scenery.

In Florence, Essence of Italy arranged for a cooking class at Florence Food Studio.

After aperitivos, there is dinner. A visit to Rome is not complete without dinner at Imago, the Hassler’s Michelin-starred restaurant. With panoramic views, from Santa Maria Maggiore to Villa Medici next door, the experience is breathtakingly unique. Guests are treated to a contemporary Italian tasting menu that embraces global flavors, offering a truly modern dining experience. This is not your typical Italian food, but then again, the Hassler is not your typical hotel.

Known for its creative cuisine, dining at Hotel Il Pellicano did not disappoint.

Good hotels, like good people, stand out for their commitment to authenticity, passion for their craft and pursuit of positive change. All of these are characteristics that Villa Cora, Hotel Il Pellicano and Hotel Hassler Roma exemplify. It made for the honeymoon of a lifetime.Related Articles

Related Articles

Bettoja Hotel Group Previews Renovations, New Packages

Four Seasons Milano Offers Private Villa Getaway on Lake Como

Magellan Jets Adds Partners, Offers New Summer Package in Italy

Borgo Pignano Opens Three New Maisonettes