When my husband, Dan, and I were planning our honeymoon, we tossed around several options for honeymoon locations. We wanted a mix of relaxation and excitement, of city and country, of days filled with shopping and sightseeing and days where we had nothing to do but enjoy wandering slowly around town. We wanted delicious food, excellent wine, rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, cobbled streets, and sparkling seas. Above all, we wanted romance and unforgettable experiences. It didn’t take long to realize: we wanted Italy.
In between time in Cinque Terre and Venice, we spent four days exploring Tuscany. We booked the honeymoon package at a small bed and breakfast, La Limonaia, just outside of Florence. The B&B’s proximity to the city (via a 10-minute bus) meant that we didn’t need to rent a car. Instead we’d be driven to our various activities by the B&B owner, the gregarious and hospitable Guilio, who ran the B&B with his wife Christina, a tall, thin ex-model.
As we arrived at La Limonaia, we were overjoyed at what we saw. The B&B, set on the sprawling grounds of a 15th-century villa overlooking Florence, was everything we had hoped for. The bells of the local church chimed faintly as we walked through the small courtyard rose garden where cats lounged lazily in the sun. Christina showed us to our room and again, we could not have been happier with what we saw. In the center of a large room, an inviting four-poster bed was draped with gauzy curtains that blew in the gentle breeze from the open window. All of the rooms of the building, which was the country home of Galileo Galilei’s family, were decorated with the pale yellows and blues of Tuscany.
Included in our honeymoon package were daily breakfasts (heaping plates of pastries, meat and cheese and Guilio’s signature omelets served with delightful conversation and rich Italian coffee) and three unique dinners. Upon arrival, we were to receive an aperitif, which we mistakenly assumed would be a light snack and some wine. Instead, we received a thorough lesson on Tuscan wine, with plentiful samples and snacks. From there we were treated to a multi-course meal prepared by Guilio himself. After dinner, we wandered hand-in-hand among the olive groves of neighboring estates.
The next day, we were treated to a pasta-cooking class in which we learned to make the dough, roll it out and cut it, and create traditional fillings and sauces. We enjoyed our handmade meal with more local wine and then caught a bus into Florence to explore. That night, Guilio drove us to one of his favorite trattorias. We dined on bisteca alla Florentine with house wine and watched the sun set from the terrace.
A tour and lunch at a nearby vineyard was the next day’s activity. After learning all about the wine-making process, we were served a sumptuous feast with multiple wine pairings for lunch. In the afternoon, we were driven to the farm of a spice maker, an eccentric Frenchman who gave up his law practice to follow his calling in Italy, creating unique and delicious mixtures from wild-growing spice plants on his farm. We wandered the grounds, listening to him passionately describe the different plants and the spices they produced, and then settled on the patio to taste them all while his wife tended the children just inside the house.
That evening turned out to be the most memorable of our nights at La Limonaia. Included in our package was an alfresco meal prepared by Guilio and some friends, and served on the grounds of a vineyard. As we made our way up the winding hills, our anticipation began to build. When we finally arrived and stepped out of the car, we were both left speechless – though only for a second – by the view of Florence, pale ochre and sprawling in the distance. We exclaimed over the beautiful sight before us, located the Duomo, and then turned to examine the beautifully set table at which we’d be served.
We took our seats at the picnic table set with wine and candles, and dug into the bread rubbed with garlic, and arugula topped with olive oil and herbs. As we ate and drank, Guilio and friends grilled herb-rubbed chicken and Italian sausage on the grill. Platter after platter of tender, juicy meat was brought to the table until finally we could eat no more. Of course, then came the dessert – tiramisu cake and cannoli along with a sweet, bubbly dessert wine. As the sun set over Florence and the night stars began to twinkle, we finished our wine and finally retreated, sated and happy, to the B&B.
Our final day at La Limonaia was just as lovely as the others. We explored Florence once more and then returned to the villa in the evening for our final farewell dinner, another home-cooked feast of Tuscan traditions served with wine, special wine brought out of Guilio’s personal cellar. We stayed up late into the evening chatting with him about his love of Tuscany and future plans for the B&B and we promised to return someday.
All too soon, the Tuscan portion of our honeymoon came to an end. But in our 10 days in Italy we’d gotten everything we’d dreamt of for our honeymoon. In Cinque Terre we found sparkling seas. In Venice, we wandered cobbled streets. In Florence, our days were filled with shopping and sightseeing. And in Tuscany, we had delicious food, excellent wine, rolling hills, and unforgettable experiences. And above all, we had romance.
La Limonaia – is located about 10-minutes by bus from Florence. Those who drive can park on the grounds. From Florence, you can also take a bus or train for Siena or Pienza for an afternoon. Rooms start at 90 euros per night with activities, which can include cooking classes, wine-tasting, truffle-hunting, cheese and bread making, or saffron, spice or olive oil tours, booked a la carte.