Valentine’s Day, or St. Valentine’s Day, is celebrated on February 14th by people all over the world.
Valentine’s Day in Italy is called San Valentino.
It’s celebrated in honor of St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, who was martyred in Rome on February 14th, around 270 AD.
No one really knows exactly what happened to him because most of the stories about him were written hundreds of years after he died.
There are various legends surrounding this tradition.
The most common story about St. Valentine is that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry (as well as for ministering to Christians).
The story has it that while in prison, Valentine tried to cure his jailer’s blind daughter, and on the eve of his execution, he wrote her a note and signed it “from your Valentine” (in Italian: “Dal tuo Valentino”).
Another legend suggests that Valentine’s Day originated from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia.
This was an annual celebration held on February 15th to honor Faunus, the god of fertility and agriculture.
The Romans also believed that Lupercalia would purify the city and make fertile those who were barren.
In 496, Pope Gelasius I converted this pagan holiday that was too sinful for Christian morality into a religious celebration, even moving it to the previous day, February 14.
It’s also stated that February 14th was chosen since it was the usual day for celebrating Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage.
So now that we know how Valentine’s Day came to be, let’s take a look at how they celebrate it today!
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is known as “La Festa degli Innamorati” in Italy, which translates as “The Festival of Lovers.”
It’s celebrated much like it is in other parts of the world.
However, there are some Italian twists that make it a truly unique experience.
Even though it’s not a public holiday in Italy, for the locals it’s a work day like any other. It’s a romantic day filled with passion and love.
It’s a time when couples express their love for one another with flowers, chocolates, and small gifts.
There is no doubt that romantic gestures on a regular basis are more meaningful than just one day a year, but Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for couples to spend some time together and enjoy each other’s company.
People can be seen carrying white roses, which symbolize purity and innocence, or red roses, which symbolize love and romance, all over the streets of Italy.
Many couples take the time to do something special together, such as a spa treatment, a romantic dinner, or a weekend away. (When possible!)
Young people and adults alike exchange themed chocolates, such as the iconic “Baci Perugina,” which comes in exquisite heart-shaped boxes.
They do make an extra effort to show their partners how much they care.
And, here’s everything you need to know about celebrating Valentine’s Day in Italy:
Eat Together on Valentine’s Day in Italy
There are many ways Italians show they care about their partners on Valentine’s Day, but perhaps one of the most popular ways to celebrate this holiday is through food!
On this romantic occasion, couples enjoy a romantic dinner together.
Many restaurants aim to create a romantic environment by using the proper décor and playing the right music.
Special meals are organized to the delicate rhythm of love songs and accompanied by a bottle of good Italian wine.
Some restaurants give the opportunity to rent an entire area for a couple who will dine in a reserved and intimate setting with waiters at their complete disposal.
Another option that has become popular in recent years is offering your lover breakfast at home with flowers.
Many people, particularly men, would order breakfast at their sweetheart’s favorite local bar (cafeteria) and have it delivered to her with a bouquet of flowers or a single, long-stemmed red rose.
Alternatively, you could be preparing breakfast for your sweetheart or cooking dinner at home and enjoy an intimate candlelit dinner. My Fave!
Gift-themed boxes of chocolates
There are many different kinds of gifts that Italians like to give on Valentine’s Day, but chocolate is always a safe bet!
If you want to show your love for someone in Italy on this special day, consider giving chocolates (Perugina, Lindt, and Venchi are some of the main brands of chocolate that are gifted.)
Perugina produces a limited edition of its popular bacio (kiss).
Special editions are filled with liquid cherry or sprinkled centers (rather than the traditional hazelnut) and red wrappers. Inside the wrapper of these baci are sweet love messages.
Get Engaged on Valentine’s Day in Italy
If you want to surprise your loved one with a ring, there are many countries where proposing on Valentine’s Day is frowned upon. But in Italy? It’s actually encouraged!
Many couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day in Italy.
The Best Places to Celebrate Valentine’s Day In Italy
So, now you know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Italy. But, perhaps more importantly, where should you celebrate?
With its beautiful canals and romantic gondola rides, Venice also makes for a great couple’s trip.
In these cities, you can find everything from romantic restaurants to luxurious hotels and beautiful sights.
You will find many places decorated with special heart-shaped ornaments, balloons, and flowers all over these cities for this special occasion.
Also, St. Valentine is the patron saint of many towns and villages in Italy, where on February 14th each year, St. Valentine’s Day is not just a personal celebration, but also a time of memory for the entire community.
To give you an idea, if you are in Italy on Valentine’s Day and wish to celebrate in a unique way, here are some of the major Italian cities and villages that celebrate this occasion:
If you would like to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day in the birthplace of this Roman Catholic Saint, then head to Terni, a city located about an hour and a half drive from Rome.
On February 14th, there will be a big street party with music and food stands in the main square.
In the province of Verona, the same principle applies to Bussolengo.
But, if you really want to impress your partner, head to Verona, where Romeo and Juliet are set.
Thousands of tourists flock here every year on February 14th because the city organizes an event full of romanticism called “Verona in Love,” featuring markets, guided tours, music, theater, exhibits, and romantic festivities. In my opinion, this is a fantastic way to spend a romantic Saint Valentine’s Day in Italy!
St Valentine is also the patron saint of Vico del Gargano, which is located in the province of Foggia. The town is decked with oranges for the day, as is the saint’s statue.
The traditional procession bearing the saint’s relics crisscrosses the town’s streets.
Thousands of visitors visit the old town center during the celebrations to view all of the stalls selling handicrafts and to sample the local gastronomic delicacies.
More Places To Celebrate Valentines’ Day In Italy
Roses and chocolates, candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach, a romantic getaway, all are wonderful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Italy.
But for a truly authentic Italian experience, nothing beats spending this romantic holiday in an Italian castle.
Italy is home to hundreds of castles and fortresses that have been converted into luxury hotels.
Many of these properties offer romantic packages for Valentine’s Day with the usual trimmings: champagne, flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, and candlelit dinners for two in their award-winning restaurants.
Whether you choose to take your partner or loved one out to dinner, attend a party, or enjoy a romantic movie at home, Valentine’s Day has many options that should help you have a great time.
I hope that you have a happy Valentine’s Day, filled with all the charm that only Italy can bestow on you.
While you are planning to head over to Italy, I wish you a safe and enjoyable journey.