Romantic Travel Done Right
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La Dolce Vita in Italy
The fantasy: The cinematic romance of Venice: wandering hand in hand through the old-world elegance of La Serenissima's alleyways, cuddling on a gondola ride along the canals, dining by candlelight in ancient piazzas.
The reality: Your overpriced gondola will be stuck in a traffic jam of canned romance, likely because the gondoliers are too busy texting to watch where they're rowing. That candlelit dinner of scallops and tagliolini on a piazza will probably set you back twice the price of a meal elsewhere in Italy for food that's half as good. And what's that vaguely putrid smell wafting up from the canals come summer?
Perfect match: Although the magic of Venice often manages to outweigh its hassles, couples looking for la dolce vita should cross the boot and head down south to the Cilento Coast. Its sleepy coastal towns are the perfect setting for picnic lunches under the shade of Aleppo pines and nights spent noshing on freshly caught seafood on the waterfront to the lilting music of Italian lovers conversing at tables nearby. Reserve a room at the Palazzo Belmonte (pictured) in Salerno, a former 17th-century hunting lodge perched among lemon trees on a bluff by the sea.