As a coveted destination for couples seeking the wedding of a lifetime, picturesque Tuscany is second to none. Shaikh Ayaz ventures into its depths to the unspoilt valley of Val d’Orcia, only to discover the perfect setting for love and inspiration.
It’s summer in Europe, and the days are longer than the reign of the Roman Empire. Or so it seems to me. We are in a speeding hatchback, zigzagging along the bucolic roads of Italy, hurtling past idyllic villages. It’s not been long since we set out southward bound from Siena on our way to the Val d’Orcia region, set about an hour’s drive away. The time flies, and as we enter a landscape of gently rolling hills and vast fields, one thing becomes clear soon enough— this is that true slice of the Italian countryside, an embodiment, so to speak, of those sweetest of brioches, Pesche di Prato, for which they ought to have invented the phrase la dolce vita, the quintessentially Italian ‘sweet life’.
ON HER Lehenga, Sabyasachi; jewellery Red Dot Jewels and Nikita Ladiwala, prices on request. ON HIM Suit, Massimo Dutti, price on request.
Nestled exquisitely in the heart of Italy—both geographically and culturally—Val d’Orcia has a sense of the timeless about it. An unhurried pace defines the rustic Tuscan life, and you can drive past miles and miles of sweeping openness without finding a single soul. And yet, when you do, the Italians can be just as chatty as generous. But nowhere is the ‘timelessness’ of this secluded haven, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, more apparent than in its architecture.
ON HER: Cape Sari, Sabyasachi; jewellery, Red Dot Jewels, London; prices on request.
A short drive takes us to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo in the small, medieval commune of Montalcino. Standing proud under the warm Tuscan sun, this 12th-century relic appears oblivious to our inquisitive presence. The other villages dotting the Montalcino settlement are similarly medieval Roman in form; remarkably, each has managed to maintain its historical character. As our local guide explains, “You can’t even change the window of your house without the permission of local authorities. We have been asked to protect and keep things as they originally were.”
ON HER Gown, Georges Chakra; Jewellery, Red Dot Jewels, London and Nikita Ladiwala; prices on request.
The magnificent Cappella della Madonna di Vitaleta is further proof of how beautifully historical structures are preserved in the valley. The stone chapel is visible from miles away, rising like a lone man-made wolf from among the area’s natural bounties.
We choose to spend our evening in the fields, strolling and taking videos of the gorgeous drowning-sun-and-rising- moon moments before dusk settles. We eventually move on to San Quirico, where the long shadows of tall cypresses cast a spell on us.
ON HER Lehenga and jacket, Aikeyah; Belt: Sabyasachi; Jewellery: Red Dot Jewels, London; prices on request.
Our hotel is not far from there. L’Olmo Podere a Pienza is a grand Tuscan villa promising to be your ultimate getaway. And so it is. Dating back to the 17th century, this former farmhouse is where pilgrims stopped for the night on their way to Rome. In 2014, under the guidance of owner Tonino Cacace, L’Olmo was converted into a swanky, five-star hotel, with expansive grounds and plush suites. It has since become popular with couples looking for a quaint, intimate wedding. “The lights and colours of the landscape change constantly,” notes Cacace. “It’s a very romantic sight.”
ON HER Lehenga, Anamika Khanna at Ensemble; jewellery, Red Dot Jewels, London; prices on request.
The next morning, we head out to Montepulciano, a Renaissance hill town nearby, known for splendid 14th-century buildings and great restaurants. We return to L’Olmo by dark and find it glittering like a jewel. It’s a gem worthy of its place in this Tuscan crown.
Produced & Styled by Nisha Kundnani (Bridelan) | Photographed by Aziz Khan (Muse Motion Pictures) | Models Shivani Sharma and Erim Serinoglu | Fashion Assistants Shubhangi Ladiwa and Preethi S | Location L’Olmo Podere a Pienza, Italy