The World's Most Romantic Hotels: Italy
Honeymoons, anniversaries, engagements, make-ups — and that's just a typical afternoon for the average Italian love affair. When cupid is on the mind, check into our favorite hotels where la dolce vita meets la vita amorosa.
What's to Love: Small, impossibly chic inn run by the same eccentric proprietress for years. The hotel is built into a hillside on Panarea, the most fashionable of the seven Aeolian islands, overlooking Stromboli. The islands are remote and beautiful and locals cling fiercely to their culture.
Good to Know: On a clear night, you can see the volcanic flares from your room.
Where: Sant' Agata sui due Golfi
What's to Love: A love nest in the hills between Sorrento and Positano. You'll be tempted to stay in your colorful room all day, but the Michelin-star restaurant is unmissable.
Good to Know: Sign up for cooking classes while you're here, and learn to recreate the culinary magic, minus the sunshine, anytime. For added privacy, rent the private poet's house on the property.
Hotel Caesar Augustus
What's to Love: Stunning vistas and an infinity pool that seems to stretch to the sea. This place takes al fresco dining to a whole new level with tables overlooking the cliffs of Capri and Ischia in the distance.
Good to Know: You can't stay in Capri without hiring a small boat to take you around the island to swim in the coves.
What's to Love: Set in a former palace that dates from the 11th century, the romantic Caruso in the heart of medieval Ravello is a beautiful escape from busy Amalif Coast towns like Positano and Amalfi, with enormous rooms covered in restored frescoes. Caruso is a step back in time: The lush gardens, the small but stellar spa, and al fresco dining are simply magical.
Good to Know: The infinity pool overlooking the Amalfi Coast and surrounded by arbors of bougainvillea is one of the most beautiful in the world. It's the perfect place to perch for an afternoon meal of wood-fired pizzas and Prosecco.
Read more on Fathom: A Breathtaking Bird's Eye View of Ravello
Hotel Punta Tragara
What's to Love: It's perched atop the cliffs at the very end of the lovely, flower- and tree-ensconced pedestrian-only road and was sculpted out of the rock face and designed by Le Corbusier. The cavernous, arched ceilings create a tranquil and elegant space where modern and old world pieces are smartly combined. The terrace overlooks the famous Faraglioni rocks and the impossibly blue Tyrrhenian Sea.
Good to Know: October is a perfect time to go, tourist season would down, but the weather is still perfect.
Read More on Fathom: Love Letter to Hotel Punta Tragara
Hotel Santa Caterina
What's to Love: A cliffside hotel that may as well have been built for honeymooning. It's packed with couples who come for the breathtaking views, outdoor dining with live music, and a roof made from sprawling lemon trees.
Good to Know: You're on the main drag of the Amalfi Coast but will feel removed from the crowds. Elevators connect the hotel to the private beach and pool.
J.K. Place Capri
What's to Love: Oh sweet bay of Naples laid out before me, how lovely you look from this chic and serene perch on the hill. How far I feel from the crowds of Capri, how smart I feel that I found this vantage point.
Good to Know: As beautiful as the rooms are, get out of bed in the morning. The hotel's breakfast spread is a sight to behold.
Read more on Fathom: Love Letter to J.K. Place Capri
What's to Love: Fresh and affordable accommodations in pricey Capri. Signore Esposito, the owner, runs this sparkling gem with stunning sea views. Many rooms have grand terraces.
Good to know: Have breakfast on the rooftop patio for spectacular views. For a modest fee, you can use the pool at the neighboring hotel, which is owned by Mr. Esposito's aunt. So Italian.
What's to Love: Everybody adores this classic hotel. Is it the effect of drinking a bottle of rose while sitting in your bathrobe on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean? The epic views from this hillside hotel? The breakfast on the terrace followed by a lazy day in a shaded pool cabana?
Good to Know: If you're squeamish, don't drive. Get a driver, and schedule a stop in Pompeii. Take the boat to Capri and enjoy drinks in a cave on the beach.
What's to Love: The former Palazzo Sasso is truly divine — like you died and went to Amalfi heaven. The best part is the service: truly impeccable. Discreet and exactly what you'd expect when you're spending a month's salary on four nights. Be careful with the room you reserve: Cheaper rooms aren't worth the savings.
Good to Know: Breakfast on the terrace is lovely. Be sure to bring along a Hermès or Etro bikini so you fit in at the swimming pool.
Parco dei Principi
What's to Love: Giò Ponti designed the hotel and swimming pool. The garden is one of the most romantic and mature in all of Italy. Beach is sophisticated and quiet with great food.
Good to Know:Bring a camera and meet the owner to visit the old palazzo.
Masseria Torre Coccaro
What's to Love: A sexy boutique hotel with major amenities — a great beach club; a nice spa; olive groves; sun-drenched, white-washed love nests; it's like staying on an old olive plantation mere steps from Bari's scenic towns.
Good to Know: As for the room with the private hot tub and patio: It's the sexy business. Order pasta at the beach club. So delicious.
Lefay Resort & Spa
What's to Love: It's a fantasy place to relax. I love their amazing spa with their super treatments, the view from the outdoor warm water pool over the Garda Lake, and their restaurant's very efficient and friendly staff.
La Scelta di Goethe
What's to Love: Three still under-the-radar apartments in a restored historic building in the heart of the city feel like the home of a Roman royal than the usual luxury hotel. Rich tapestries and Florentine artwork merge seamlessly with the latest technologies like loaded iPads in every guest room.
Good to Know: The suite Trinita dei Monti has sweeping terraces, a well-stocked library, and a rooftop soaking pool. The very recipe for romance.
Read more on Fathom: Rome's Hot New Hotel Is a Poet's Old Home
Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi
What's to Love: Simple and charming with a wonderful view and the freshest fish.
Good to know: Ocean facing rooms are more expensive, but that's what you're here for.
What's to Love: The brilliant pink bougainvillea that blooms just off your terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. They don't tolerate diving or splashing at the pool, so you're guaranteed a peaceful time.
Good to Know: Spend a day following the path on the nature reserve behind the hotel. You'll emerge in a nearby cove, have a refreshing aperitivo, the take a boat back.
Where: Castiglione Chiavarese
What's to Love: An agriturismo hideaway on a coastal mountaintop. You're in the middle of nowhere, staring at Elba and the fields around you.
Good to know: It's modest — no WiFi, no spa, no frills. But you'll immediately realize how beautiful simplicity can be. Rates, by the way, start at 40 €. You could move in.
Dimora Del Prete
What's to Love: A grand private home tucked into the middle of the countryside. You'll feel like you took a trip back in time.
Good to Know: This is a clever, if unlikely, place to perch for excursions in the Abruzzo National Forest or en route from Northern to Southern Italy.
Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea
Where: Taormina Mare
What's to Love: A 19th century former has been transformed into a series of luxurious rooms and suites but still feels like an intimate home where every wish and detail is attended to. Linger over elaborate breakfasts of meat, cheeses, freshly baked breads, and delicious juices on the tropical terrace. The gardens afford secret spots to linger and watch spectacular sunsets before heading uphill to Taormina for cocktails at sister property Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo.
Good to Know: Complimentary boat trips — complete with snorkeling guides — are a wonderful way to explore the coastline and the crystal-clear Ionian Sea.
Read more on Fathom: Zone Out on the Beach in Sicily
Photo courtesy of Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Where: The slopes of Mt. Etna
What's to Love: A boutique hotel set on an old vineyard estate with about ten rooms. The pool is cut into steppes in Mt. Etna, and olives from the nearby trees bob in the pool. You can hike through their organic farm, getting lost under orange trees, or just sit on the mountain by the pool, staring off to the ocean in the distance.
Good to Know: The double deluxe Floreale has a terrace and a very cool modern bathroom with a big tub. Definitely eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the hotel. The orange and grape juices, pressed from the estate's orchards, are fantastic.
Hotel Villa Cipriani
What's to Love: The verb asolare means to pass time in an agreeable and purposeless way. Combined with the mountain air and delightful surroundings, what more could you hope for from a romantic weekend? Despite being tucked away north of the Veneto, the views from Villa Cipriani rival that of any hill town in Tuscany. I particularly love breakfast on the terrace of room 102, especially if you arrive in the dark the night before.
Castello di Casole
Where: Casole d'Elsa
What's to Love: The hotel is sincere, rich in heritage and modern comforts, and not in the least bit pretentious. The pool deck, carved into a hillside, is a great perch from which to sip Prosecco and enjoy sweeping views of the countryside, a beautiful tapestry of greens and taupes. In the restaurant, flavors are proudly local and the staff is superbly attentive. All of which make the perfect backdrop for pressing the pause button and cherishing each other.
Castiglion del Bosco
What's to Love: A working wine estate owned by Massimo Ferragamo and the definition of a luxury resort. From suites in the borgo to the restored rustic villas in the countryside, the design and attention to detail is impeccable. You could check in and never leave, as the estate has everything: several delicious restaurants, a luxurious day spa, and extensive grounds.
Good to Know: Rent a car to explore the breathtaking countryside, unless you only want to soak up the Tuscan dolce vita full time at the estate.
J. K. Place
What's to Love: On Piazza Santa Maria Novella and a few blocks from the Duomo. The façade may not look like much, but you'll find the best of old-meets-new world inside. Great DVD library, helpful staff, gorgeous rooms, and a selection of warm tarts, tea, fruit and orange juice in the lobby.
Good to Know: You're a few steps from Garga, one of the best restaurants in Florence.
Where: Val D'Orcia
What's to Love: You drive through the Tuscan countryside and finally make it to the top of a hilltop. Your destination: a modern farmhouse with stunning views, a pool, and hipster touches like a great library and music collection. This is isolation at its best.
Good to know: The charming American owner, John Voigtmann, is a former music exec who runs this place like a country getaway for friends.
Read More on Fathom: John Voigtmann's Innkeeper's Tales
What's to Love: The name translates as "the inn of the lovers" for good reason. The cypress-lined drive, the amazing restaurant, the countryside setting amid gently rolling hills. In the 1300s the space was largely stables. Today, it's your basic Tuscan fantasy come true.
Good to Know: Bring a bathing suit for the pool.
What's to Love: An adorable, inexpensive B&B in the Tuscan countryside with a kitchen garden to get lost in. Guests are free to pick anything they desire and each room comes with a stocked pantry.
Good to know: Arrange a cooking class with the owner and cookbook author, Pamela Sheldon Johns, and have her plan your Tuscan food adventures.
St. Regis Florence
What's to Love: The location overlooking the Arno. The 15th-century building designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The antique furniture, art, and fixtures. The authentic Italian grandness that isn't at all stuffy.
Good to Know: The beds are pretty inspiring, too.
Read More on Fathom: Love Letter to the St. Regis Florence.
Villa San Michele
What's to Love: Set high on a hillside overlooking the red roofs of Florence. Have a leisurely lunch at their Loggia restaurant and try not to faint while passing by the giant blue and lavender hydrangeas spilling out of the potted plants near the entry. Yes, they're real.
Good to Know: You ge the far-away Tuscan feel with the benefit of being close to Florence's museums, restaurants, and shops.
Aman Canal Grande
What's to Love: The 24-room hotel inside Palazzo Papdopoli dates back to 1555, home to the count and countess who now live on the top floor. The opulent palatial interior features a labryinth of elegant rooms, neo-baroque library, reading nooks, and a vast salons in a variety of styles.
Good to Know: Have dinner on the piano nobile, the most elegant floor in the palazzo home.
Read More on Fathom: Cinderella for a Night in Venice
What's to Love: If you could go back in time and be the Venetian noble — with the masks, the illicit affairs, the incredible home overlooking the Grand Canal — this is what your life would look like. Check in to live the fantasy.
Good to Know: The hotel, which has always been a noble family's palazzo, is a master class in Venetian art. Those paintings are by Nicolò Bambini, Giambattista Tiepolo, and Pietro Longhi.
What's to Love: Yes, the Danieli is divine, but we prefer the more private — and ridiculously sumptuous — charms of this canal-front hotel that's at once in the middle of the Venice insanity yet totally removed from it.
Good to Know: The rooftop bar has outstanding views. Make breakfast last for hours.
Relais La Magioca
What's to Love: Beautiful country house with cozy, tasteful rooms. A morning walk through the surrounding terraced vineyards is magical.
Good to Know: There's a tiny ivy-covered Romanesque chapel on the grounds — should nuptial thoughts cross anyone's mind.
The Gritti Palace
What's to Love: One of Venice's most incredible places, now a Luxury Collection Hotel, with striking views, an esteemed history, an incredible Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Spa.
Good to Know: It's not all classic Venice: The massive Donghia suite sets the mood with black-and-white snapshots of disco days and boogie nights, dramatic chandeliers, groovy '70s sconces, a massive marble bathtub, and, of course, a butler.
Read More on Fathom: In Love and in Venice
What's to Love: Gorgeous lakeside villa lavishly restored in 1997. Modern and traditional at the same time. Beautiful antiques, Wi-Fi, and an unbelievable view.
Good to Know: Heated marble floors to keep your feet toasty in the cool weather.
Eremo delle Grazie
What's to Love: In an monastery in the hills, crooked hallways are filled with furniture, framed maps, and drawings collected over the centuries. Ten frescoed monk cells have been converted into suites named after Italian friars. There's a library of old books, a parlor, and a walking path in the woods.
Good to Know: You can rent out the entire place as a retreat or couple up and pretty much have the place to yourself. Umbrian specialties are served on a terrace overlooking the town of Spoleto below.
Read more on Fathom: You Can Have Your Birthday Party at This Ancient Italian Monastery, But First You Have to Find
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Contributors: Caryl Chinn, Sonya de Castelbajac, Harold Dieterle, Christina DiLaura, Deirdre Dolan, David Feige, Julia Herr, Olga Katsnelson, Stephanie March, Lorenzo Merlo, Christina Ohly, Annie Ojile, Jill Paris, Nathalie Sann, Kerry Saretsky, Alyssa Shelasky, Sharon Thomas-Counce, Angela Tribelli, Brette Warshaw.