A Romantic Tour of France and Italy

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Paris is known as the City of Love for a reason! What could be more romantic than renewing your wedding vows in Paris?

The answer might be spending your honeymoon there or in one of the special cities of France and Italy that offer spectacular scenery and rich cultural experiences.

The two-hour renew your vows tour includes the ceremony at the romantic Eiffel Tower, which at night is illuminated by 20,000 twinkling lights. Following the ceremony, a professional photographer will take pictures of you and your spouse as you wander around the City of Love. This tour includes up to eight people and could be followed by a horse carriage ride and a champagne tour of Paris that travels down the Champs Elysées past the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Trocadero.

Another way to explore romantic Paris is to shop in the elegant boutiques, walk along the Seine River and have candlelit romantic dinners in one of Paris’ 40,000 restaurants before returning to your room, or you could take a dinner cruise down the Seine and enjoy the City of Light by night. Take a day to tour the stunning Palace of Versailles and marvel at this opulent monument to King Luis XIV of 18th century France and his queen, Marie Antoinette.

As tantalizing as the Paris experience is for lovers and honeymooners, other areas of France are equally enticing. The Loire Valley is the UNESCO-protected “Garden of France” and home to two elegant chateaux. Tours for wine and champagne tastings are a favorite. The tour leaves from Tours and is a full nine-hour day trip. You visit the Chambord and Chenonceau castles, sample wines and cheeses at a local winery, and enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant.

Romantic tours of Europe aren’t just in France; Italy has beautiful scenery, fabulous vineyards and delicious food. Paris may be known as the City of Love, but Rome is known as the City of Romance. In Rome, a visit to the Trevi Fountain is a good place to start. According to legend immortalized in the movie Three Coins in the Fountain, throwing a coin in the fountain ensures a return trip to Rome. A different legend says that couples who drink from the fountain will have eternal love. Shouldn’t you do both?

The Spanish Steps are a must for the stout-hearted. The 138 steps connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top of the hill. There are three flights of stairs representing the Trinity, and you feel as if you are climbing towards Heaven’s Gates. Once you get to the top, you have a beautiful view of the city with historic buildings all around you.
Spend an evening at Rome’s world-renowned opera house, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, a 1,600-seat theater featuring ballet, dance and theater. The opera house is famous for its superb acoustics. Combine the theater with dinner for an upscale evening out.

Lose yourself in a passeggiata, or leisurely stroll, in Trastevere. This neighborhood is devoted to authentic Roman culture. Here you can feast on true Roman food. The neighborhood is fairly quiet during the day but at night it is much livelier. End your stroll with one of Italy’s famous gelatos at Fatamorgana.

A good place to finish your romantic tour of Italy would be Venice. Stroll through the narrow streets with your private guide on a sightseeing and snacking tour. At twilight, climb aboard a gondola for a relaxing cruise around the city with your own gondolier.

If you get a chance, visit the islands of Murano and Burano to see artisans practicing the ancient arts of glassblowing and lace making in their workshops. The vaporetto line 12 takes only nine minutes to reach Murano to see glassblowing. Burano is a little farther, but lace making and the lace museum make the journey worthwhile. It’s possible to do both islands in a day, but it is better to spend a day on each island to fully appreciate the handcrafts.

The greatest challenge of these tours is to decide exactly what you want to do and see. Both France and Italy are rich in culture, filled with interesting architecture, replete with wine and delicious cuisine. All you have to do is plan your itinerary carefully. Be sure to take advantage of tour operators who customize tours for individuals and small groups. Undoubtedly, you won’t see everything you want to see, and you might plan to go back another year. ■

Sources: viator.com, thelocal.fr, blog.airpaz.com, 10best.com and kensingtontours.com.