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Image via Yarra Valley Lodge

A Romantic Winter Weekend Away – 48 Hours in Yarra Valley

Whether it’s a honeymoon destination, lover’s weekend getaway or perhaps a reconnoitre trip to plan your dream wedding, the Yarra Valley – and Yarra Valley Lodge provide the best backdrop to explore, eat and drink your way around! 

Friday Afternoon:   Check into the Yarra Valley Lodge

Check into your accommodation in the luxurious Yarra Valley Lodge, perfectly situated within the picturesque Yarra Valley wine region. Snuggle up with your partner and relax taking in the stunning views and watching the sunset over the rolling hills from your balcony with a wine in hand.

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Image via Yarra Valley Lodge

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Image via Innocent Bystander

Friday 6pm: An early dinner at the Innocent Bystander

Enjoy an early dinner in the cozy ambience of the Innocent Bystander with attentive staff and exceptional service. You will enjoy the paella and pizza options, tasting the local beers, wine and delicious cider made on site. The live music creates a great atmosphere and it will be difficult to drag yourself away, however with an early start planned for tomorrow it’s best to make it an early night.

Saturday 6am: Hot Air Ballooning

An early wakeup call is worth it to experience the breathtaking views of the Yarra Valley in a hot air balloon. Watch the landscape awaken as the sun rises over rolling hills, farms and vineyards and even take home an inflight photo of the two of you flying high in this truly memorable and unforgettable experience.

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Image via Yarra Valley Lodge 

Saturday 8:00am: Yarra Valley Permaculture Organic Market

Enjoy a tasty breakfast washed down with an aromatic coffee using organic coffee beans when you arrive. Then explore the local stalls and fresh seasonal produce – try picking up organic breads, meats, fruits, chocolates and more at the Yarra Valley Permaculture Organic Market. These will all come in handy for your adventures tomorrow!

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Image via Yarra Valley Permaculture Organic Market

Saturday 10:00am: Enjoy a private Yarra Valley winery tour

It’s a romantic escape, so drop off your goodies from the market, leave the car keys behind and enjoy a private tour with an experienced tour guide from Wild Wombat Winery Tours and spend the day exploring the incredible Yarra Valley.

Saturday 10:30am: First stop – Domaine Chandon!

Domaine Chandon offers the closest experience you will have to experience true French Champagne-making in Australia.   Chandon is the only Australian sparking with genuine French heritage which began over 30 years ago when a team of Chandon’s wine experts in France struck gold in finding the perfect home in the Yarra Valley. Chandon has the same blood line as the Moet & Chandon, Domaine Chandon and combines its French heritage with Australian expertise to create one of Australia’s best bubbles. The well-manicured vineyards and gardens are also worth exploring. If you are not a fan of bubbles, then there are some lovely reds to enjoy as well.

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Image via Chandon Winery

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Image via Chandon Winery

Saturday 11:30am: Wine tasting and Lunch at De Bortoli

After tasting incredible wine at the DeBortoli cellar door, it’s time to enjoy a seasonal tasting plate followed by something a little more filling from their Italian influenced menu as you continue to enjoy the wine you enjoyed the most taking in the ambience and the breathtaking views. Enjoy a coffee but hold off on dessert there is more to explore this afternoon.

Saturday 2pm: Discover hand-made farmhouse cheese at the Yarra Valley Dairy

While you have had a long leisurely lunch, there is always room to taste the incredible offering of fresh cheeses at the Yarra Valley Dairy. The cheese factory uses locally sourced milk from the Yarra Valley Dairy farms and goats milk form the neighbouring Victorian region of Gippsland and if you like something a little spicier you cannot go past the ‘Firey’ marinated cheese, if chilli isn’t your thing, the Persian Fetta is delish and the ashed pyramid is mouthwatering. Make certain you stock up on a few items before you leave!

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Image via Yarra Valley Dairy

Saturday 3:00pm: Round off your tour with a Gin Tasting

Finish your tour with a visit to the Four Pillars Gin distillery. At the distillery cellar door, you will learn how to taste gin properly and really feel the flavours appear. The flavours on offer are distinctively Australian, with Eucalyptus, lemon myrtle and Tasmanian bush peppercorn being only some of the ingredients you will be able to recognise in the four varieties of gin. While you are there you can look through the glass windows at the three copper stills in the distillery itself.

Saturday 7.00pm: Dinner at The Stables

Dinner at The Stables at Stones is the perfect location for an intimate and romantic dinner. Originally built in the 1800’s as stable hand quarters and beautifully restored and converted into a stunning restaurant retaining its historic feel with red brick walls, manicured gardens and a quaint outdoor terrace area with the most incredible views.   Here you can enjoy an exquisite five or seven course degustation tasting menu with matching wines from the region making this a night to remember.

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Image via The Stables at Stones

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Image via The Stables at Stones

Sunday 9am: The Perfect Buffet Breakfast at Bella Restaurant

Enjoy a Sunday sleep in followed by a leisurely buffet breakfast at Bella Restaurant at the Yarra Valley Lodge. Here, you can enjoy an abundance of fresh regional produce and continue to take in the stunning views as you watch kangaroos, birds and other wildlife that call this area home.

Sunday 10:30am: Check out of the hotel and Check into nature

It’s time to check out of the hotel – but the romantic weekend is far from over! So, lace up your walking shoes and gather up your locally sourced cheese and goodies you purchased yesterday (and your favourite wine purchase) and its time to set off and explore a different side of the Yarra Valley.

Sunday 11:30am: Redwood Forest Tree Art

Where else in Australia can you walk around a California Redwood Forest?? Yarra Valley that’s where! Some of these trees stand nearly 180 feet tall. The forest is filled with art installations made from nature and plenty of walking tracks and wildlife.

Image via Visit Yarra Valley

Sunday 1:30pm: Picnic Lunch at Coldstream Winery

Coldstream Hills winery allows you to BYO a picnic on their balcony and land (you only need to purchase a glass or two from them!) … so fold out the picnic blanket, unpack all of your gourmet locally sourced goodies, open up that nice bottle of wine, and after all that exercise its time to enjoy a relaxed and romantic picnic together enjoying the surrounds and watching the wildlife.

Sunday 3:00pm: Homeward Bound … After a stop at Yarra Valley Farm

These guys source fresh produce from around the Yarra Valley region, so you won’t go home empty handed! Plus they have not only produce, but homewares, handmade jewellery, freshly pressed Yarra Valley olive oils, cordials and more. It’s right next door to Yarra Valley Lodge so easy swing by en route home!

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Ms Zebra Says: Talk about a heap of amazing activities?! I’m literally booking this right now! What an amazing weekend getaway – so much glorious food, wine and exploring!!! 

About Yarra Valley Lodge: Beautifully appointed and set at the foothills of the stunning Yarra Ranges, Yarra Valley Lodge is positioned in an area of outstanding natural beauty surrounded by superb manicured gardens and rolling green hills. Yarra Valley Lodge is a perfect destination for your wedding  – whether it be boutique and intimate or large cocktail celebrations – featuring magnificent reception venues with an idyllic natural backdrop all within a comfortable drive from Melbourne.

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When dreaming of an Italian honeymoon, Venice immediately comes to mind. Undoubtedly one of the world’s most visited destinations, it exudes old-world allure and is blessed with a sun-drenched, pastel patina. This beautiful canal city comprises around 100 small islands within the Venetian lagoon. Culturally rich and achingly beautiful, it offers the perfect mix of big city sightseeing with unplanned exploring – in fact half the fun is getting a little lost in Venice’s famously hard-to-navigate streets. Plus, it’s car-free, so you can take your time and wander at will.

Of course, Venice’s popularity means it’s also extremely busy and during the peak spring-summer months, the city is absolutely heaving with tourists. So, if navigating through crowds doesn’t sound romantic to you, perhaps consider travelling in early spring or late autumn when it isn’t quite so hectic.

Aside from considering the best time of year to travel, another top tip to optimise your trip is to be up and about before the crowds. Although early morning wake-up calls may not sound super appealing, you’ll be glad you got out of bed when you have the Piazza San Marco (nearly) to yourself! Aiming to be up and about at around 8am will likely see you ticking off the sights minus the crowds – blissful!

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The all-important arrival

If you’re flying in to Marco Polo airport, then naturally, you’ll be taking a boat transfer to the city. But not just any boat. Forgo the jam-packed ferries and instead make your way to the private water taxi docks. Oozing Bond-esque glamour, these zippy private taxis are undoubtedly the chicest way to arrive. With retractable roofs and luxury seating, you can sit back and relax while making the scenic trip into the city.

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The view

For a dreamy drone-like view, ascend the San Marco Campanile, the bell tower of the Saint Mark’s Basilica. Boasting panoramic vistas of Venice, it’s the perfect way to acquaint yourself with the city and to see it in all its terracotta rooftop splendour. Beat the queues and arrive just as it opens to be the first up to the top.

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The must-do

Mention Venice and it instantly conjures images of gondolas criss-crossing the canals with their black hulls gleaming in the sunshine. Helmed by a fully trained gondolier, a gondola ride is undoubtedly a romantic and quintessential part of your Italian itinerary. Embark on a 30-minute ride and experience canal life from a different perspective, all while soaking in the scenery. Although it’s definitely touristy, it really does live up to expectations and is likely to be a trip highlight.

The canals tend to get busier throughout the day, so try opting for an early morning cruise to avoid the crowds. Another tip is to choose a gondola in one of the smaller canals rather than the grand canal as this can get heavily congested with ferries and water taxis. It’s also worth noting that evening cruises cost more, so if you’re contemplating a sunset ride – just note you’ll be paying a premium.

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The hit of history

Delve back into Venetian history by taking a tour around the Doges Palace to seek out its grand staircases, opulent halls and ornate details. Infusing gothic architecture with renaissance elements, this historic centrepiece has served as everything from a political and administrative powerhouse to a prison. From the vast central courtyard to the famous Bridge of Sighs and extraordinary paintings, there is so much to see at this Italian icon.

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The day trip

Loved for its gelato-hued houses and winding canals, Burano makes a delightful Venetian day trip destination. Accessible via ferryboat, this bright and breezy isle is bursting with authentic eateries serving up just-caught seafood (including the renowned lagoon fish) and stores stocked with the island’s famous lace. Enjoy taking a leisurely stroll along the bustling streets and intimate lanes, take time for a relaxed lunch in the sunshine and finish off the afternoon with a scoop (or two!) of gelato.

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All images by Anika Reynolds.

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Ms Zebra says: There is no place more romantic than Italy and especially Venice! Taking a gondola ride with your special other half sounds like an absolute must. Wonderful tips from Anika to avoid crowds when in Venice and make the most of your time!

 

About the author Anika Reynolds: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

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Wedding by Anna Ambrosi photography
Photo by Anna Ambrosi Photography

We have loved celebrating all things Italy for The Italy Issue and we knew amongst it all, that we needed to get to the legal  requirements for those of us jetting off on a jet plane to wed in the sunny country. Chic Weddings In Italy, who plan many, many stunning Italian weddings for Aussies stepped up to fill us in with their expert knowledge!

Civil Weddings

Two main documents are required for Australian citizens to marry in Italy. These are the Atto Notorio and the Nulla Osta.

1. “Atto di notorietà per uso matrimonio” (also known as Atto Notorio): this should be obtained from the Italian Embassy or nearest Italian Consulate in the state where you reside before leaving Australia.  If you are unable to obtain the Atto Notorio from an Italian Consulate in Australia, you may obtain one from a Tribunale Civile (Civil Court) in Italy or from the civil registrar (ufficiale di stato civile) of the marriage office of the city where you plan to get married.

Unfortunately despite this is the procedure required, our agency has encountered several problems in obtaining the Atto Notorio from an Italian Tribunal, requesting our agency to wait for months due to the long waiting lists.

For these reasons, we had to send our request to smaller Tribunals, in smaller cities of Italy.

Italian Destination Wedding Anna Ambrosi photography
Anna Ambrosi Photography

We, therefore, alert Australians wishing to get married in Italy that this process is long and frustrating and will require them to travel to Italy several times before their wedding day.

If you are requesting the Atto Notorio from the Tribunale Civile, you must attend in person together with two to four adult witnesses. If either spouse or one of the witnesses does not speak Italian, it is necessary to provide an interpreter, in addition to the two witnesses.

  1. NULLA OSTA: In addition to the above-mentioned Atto Notorio, an Australian citizen intending to marry in Italy will need to make a Sworn Declaration (Nulla Osta) at the Australian Embassy in Rome or the Australian Consulate-General in Milan. Make sure you travel with your Australian passport as this has to be presented to Embassy/Consulate officers when signing the Nulla Osta.
    A Nulla Osta states that there is no impediment to marriage and must be signed, whether you are single, divorced or widowed, in the presence of an Australian Consular officer at the Australian

The Nulla Osta (Sworn Declaration) is valid for six months so you don’t need to do it too much in advance from the date of your wedding. 

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Photo by Anna Ambrosi Photography

Religious Weddings

Where can religious weddings can be celebrated?

Catholic – The Catholic rite can only be celebrated inside the Catholic church and it is the only one in Italy that can bear legal validity if the relevant bureaucratic procedure will be followed.

If you have been married already for the civil law in your country, you can still marry inside a Catholic church, showing the civil wedding certificates which state your wedding details and validity.

Please note that due to the high demand from foreign couples to get married inside Catholic churches in Italy, has brought many Italian churches to close their doors to NON-residents, therefore, the search for availability of a Catholic church is not obvious and the permission will depend from priest to priest, from town to town.

Anglican – The Anglican rite can take place in an Anglican church or at the venue, and it doesn’t bear any legal validity in Italy.

Orthodox – The Orthodox rite can take place in an Orthodox church and it doesn’t bear any legal validity in Italy.

Jewish -The Jewish rite shall take place in a Synagogue or at the venue with the presence of a Rabbi.

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Photos by Lissa Poggi

Italy & Its Location

You should take into account that if you choose to get married on an island or on a remote village you won’t have access to all the facilities and services you would usually get in a bigger town. Flexibility, in this case, is important and you should appreciate the beauty of the place accepting the constraints it brings along.

 

Italian Food

Italian food is yummy and Italians are famous for their culinary ability, their simple recipes and the freshness of the ingredients they use.

If you are looking for a French style nouvelle cuisine, Italy might not be the right place unless you pick a venue with a Michelin starred restaurant or you hire a gourmet chef for your special day. Italian products are presented according to our history and experience on food. Some chefs are more open to experimenting with new ways of presentations of their dishes but this is the exception and not the rule. Our food culture is simple, fresh and of seasonal quality.

 

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Chicweddingsinitaly is an international team of eclectic, extravagant, dedicated, passionate, energetic experts in wedding production, creative experiences, unique trends and everything Italian with an influence from remote inspirational places around the globe.

Constantly travelling between London, Amsterdam, Bali, Italy and other similarly amazing spots in the world, they work with a suitcase in their hand and their phone in the other, struck by the beauty of life and by the importance of celebrating it.

The founders and creative directors, Clara & Eva, are obviously Italian. They head two event production agencies and consult in styling and strategies from private properties that want to make a statement in the world of private celebrations.

Ms Polka Says: A big thank you to this talented team for sharing the ins and outs for Aussies wanting an Italian celebration. We can’t wait to see the magic weddings set to unfold!

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