Having met my now husband in Italy of all places, I yearned for a wedding reception location that had that flair of Italy without making all of my loved ones head over an ocean to get there. In Colorado, this was no easy task as the wedding venue market mostly caters to mountain and ranch style weddings.
Instead I was forced to get creative with my location and transform it into la dolce vita in the middle of the wild, wild west. I drew inspiration from celebrity weddings that I had seen set in Italy. I found a location where we could feast outdoors on long tables as they would in a small Italian village somewhere in the boot.
It is no wonder that many celebrities have selected Italy as their wedding location. Italy exudes romance from its olive groves to hilltop castles. I am not alone in my quest to find rolling Tuscan hills and grand Italian villa architecture for the wedding day, even if Italy is far, far away.
You don’t have to make your friends and family head to the boot shaped country for an Italian style wedding and reception. One of the best spots to find a regular gold mine of Italian style estates is appropriately in the Golden State. California renders plenty of venues and estates that upon first glance very well could be Italy in its truest form.
Fit for the wedding of a Roman emperor and empress, Casa Leoni brings Italy to Orange County. The estate provides a rich look, similar to those along the Mediterranean coast of Italy, where the more columns and statues, the better. Couples have 10,000 square feet to use of the outdoor event space.
In addition to the pool with its swim-up bar, Casa Leoni offers the opulence of a grand Italian villa through its terraces with Roman inspired columns, ceramic tiling and plenty of stone statues scattered about the site. While Italy might be hard to reach for some of your guests, Casa Leoni is just 15 miles from John Wayne Airport. In such a location, you can practically see Roman royalty mingling around the turquoise pool.
The Flood Mansion
Located in Pacific Heights in San Francisco, Flood Mansion boasts not just a grand location in California but also that Italian flourish throughout its interiors and exteriors. Weddings and events take place in the former family home of San Francisco’s captains of industry. For couples in search of Italy in California, the Flood Mansion yields a decidedly 16th century Italian High Renaissance feel without need for much of a lengthy airplane ride.
The architecture of the mansion reflects a classic Italian Renaissance design. Touches of Italy cover the building such as hand-turned Italian inspired tile, Italian Sforza lamps at the entrance and a courtyard that very well could be tucked away in some small Italian hamlet. Wedding ceremonies can take place in this space surrounded by stained glass and an enclosed garden. Such a location lends couples that Italian opulence without mandating all friends and family fly to Italy. It could be a palazzo in Florence upon first glance.
When Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake tied the knot at their exclusive Italian resort in the Puglia region, they created a space where friends and family could truly feel as though they were on vacation. Couples seeking for this feel but within California can find such a spot in Villa Costa. Located in Carlsbad, Villa Costa provides an intimate yet resort like feel for a wedding reception. The luxury Italian style villa mirrors those in Italy with its style and furnishings. The site appreciates an outdoor entertainment space, an infinity pool and manicured grounds for weddings and events.
Villa Costa is not unlike the resort in Italy selected by Biel and Timberlake in that guests can feel transported to a time of relaxation and vacation. The space enjoys full panoramic ocean views and only with a little context do guests know they aren’t in an Italian villa on the Adriatic coast.
For most couples visualizing an Italian style wedding site, they seek a location with vineyards, olive groves and a charming villa. Luckily California’s wine country is littered with properties that seem to have fallen right from the rolling hills of Tuscany. Viansa in Sonoma is no exception with its Tuscan architecture and views of wine country. Weddings can take place in a number of locations on site including on spacious lawns, the wine cellar and the courtyard. The courtyard in particular is popular for ceremonies as it mirrors those in Italy. The property’s vineyards and olive trees frame the wedding ceremony space.
The working winery even has roots to Italy. Its foundation drew inspiration from the early Italian immigrants who brought winemaking traditions to the Sonoma Valley. Brides and grooms can create the feel of vineyards in Tuscany at such an estate that brings Italian atmosphere and Old World architecture in one location.
With a name like Pienza Estate, it is no wonder that many couples select this location for their Italian style wedding in California. Set up in the El Dorado Hills, the estate appears old world and rustic mainly due to its architecture. For the high-powered couple seeking privacy for their big day, they don’t necessarily need to find a remote estate in Italy. The Pienza Estate lends the privacy of a villa in the far reaches of Italy without the need for frequent flier miles to get there.
Usually couples looking for an Italian style reception location are of Italian heritage themselves, with the massive amounts of family members to prove it. While some locations can be limiting in the amount of people you can have, Pienza Estate offers room for the whole Italian family up to 300 guests. Dinners can be held Italian style, out on the spacious lawn, as it would be in the old country.
For the couple that has visited the palazzi of Florence, Venice and Rome, it can seem difficult to recreate such extravagance and elegance half way across the globe. In the Camarillo foothills of Southern California, the Constantine Estate proves positively palazzo with its wood beamed, chandelier studded interiors and refreshing ocean breeze just outside.
While only just completed in 2008, Constantine Estate invites guests to step back into the past throughout various elements of its design. It also affords a more convenient location for guests as it sits close to Santa Barbara, Venture and Los Angeles.
Recreating a feel, culture, architecture and atmosphere that a certain country lends is no easy task when you find yourself far from it. While the idea of throwing a wedding in Italy might move you, those couples looking for a touch of Tuscany and a dash of Roman rule can turn their sights on California as a pleasant alternative.
Which estate would your pick for your Italian style wedding on the Pacific coast? Share your pick with us below.
About the Author
Suzy is a freelance writer, largely penning travel and lifestyle pieces for a number of online publications including the Estate Weddings and Events blog. With a redheaded temperament she travels the globe in search of sarcasm, stories and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. You can connect with her via LinkedIn or Google+.