herald

Thursday 23 October 2014

Romantic Rome

IT’S UNDOUBTEDLY the most romantic country in the world, and there’s never been a better time to tie the knot in Italy.

From the piazzas of Rome to the vistas of Lake Garda to the stunning backdrop of the Amalfi coast, Italy’s got it all.

But it’s not a country for a DIY holiday at the best of times, let alone a wedding. If you want it done right — and that’s a must on the biggest day of your life — you’ve got to go with the experts.

Although not tying the knot (but if anywhere could — Rome would), we stayed in the heart of the Eternal City in the Hotel Universo.

It’s a short walk from the Trevi fountain (throw a coin in to ensure you return to Rome) and ideally located for our favourite piazza in the city, overlooking the fabulous Roman Pantheon.

The hotel boasts plenty of creature comforts for any couple, and its newly opened fitness centre has a Turkish bath, a Finnish sauna and a hydromassage shower.

The bar opens into the wee hours (always a consideration for the wedding party), and there are two restaurants with plenty of traditional Italian and Roman specialities. Oh, and enjoying all that food you might also enjoy the fact that all the gym equipment is top notch if you want to work off the calories.

The experts in the area are Topflight and, as they win awards year after year, you know that you’re in the right hands. If you need wedding cars, photographers, champagne receptions, bouquets of roses and so on, it’s no problem, it can all be arranged when you book here at home. Want a completely stress-free ceremony? Then book a wedding co-ordinator with them and take the hassle out of your nuptials.

OPTIONS

There are three options for your ceremony, St Patrick’s College, the Church of San Silvestro and the Irish College — and this being Rome, they’ve all got their own bit of history. St Patrick’s is the new kid on the block (it celebrates its centenary in 2011), while San Silvestro has an altar inspired by Michelangelo and has seen brides march up the aisle since the 1600s.

Paris is romantic, but Rome is passionate. If you want that fairytale experience, the Campo di Fiori and Piazza Navona are stunning and great for people watching, while the bars and restaurants of Trastevere across the river are a couple’s delight.

You can also try other areas of Italy.

Everywhere has its own highlights, but we love the Amalfi coast and Lake Garda.

For Amalfi, expect stunning vistas at every turn of the road. Topflight has two hotels in the area — Hotel Bonadies in Ravello and Hotel Le Agavie in Positano.

Both hotels have views over the sea that are simply to die for, and words alone can’t do them justice. Do yourself a favour and rent out the Marisa Tomei movie Only You and you get a feel for the place.

HONEYMOON

For a honeymoon after a Rome wedding, you can’t go wrong with Topflight. The company also has hotels in neighbouring Sorrento, long a favourite with the Irish, and the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia are waiting to be explored.

Naples is worth a visit too — if just for the shopping. Vibrant and energetic, it’s an edgy port city but it’s full of noise and human life and is the most Italian of cities.

Equally breathtaking is the Lake Garda area, a stunning backdrop of lake and mountains with plenty of cute towns dotted around the water’s edge. If you want Sound of Music scenery combined with Italian flair, this is the place to do it.

Riva del Garda, on the lake, is an ideal base and the company’s wedding brochure has options there, too. It’s a small town but it’s chock-full of restaurants, bars (the beer is good in this region of Italy) and it’s also packed with good quality shoe and leather shops. Living la dolce vita? Look no further than Italy.

Topflight’s new wedding website is on www.topflightweddings.com or call (01) 240 1777 for further info.

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