La Festa Degli Innamorati - Festival of Lovers (That's Valentine's Day to us Americans)
OK, so you're in Rome on Valentine's Day and you want to make the best of it. The balmy weather (with typical temperatures around 50F or above) helps make this a great choice for a romantic getaway. But visiting the Colosseum, with thoughts of lions eating slaves isn't a great place to inspire passion, so.... where to go?
First how about a spot with magnificent views of Rome and St. Peters Basilica? That would be the Giardino Degli Aranci--the Orange Gardens behind the Basilica of Santa Sabina. It's free (if you're a cheap date) but the views are unparalleled in all of Rome. You can walk up to it from the Circus Maximus or take a taxi. Try to plan it around sunset... the colors will enhance your romantic time spent there.
The next spot is classical in its beauty--the Villa Borghese. Most tourists go for the art in its museum (much of which can inspire passion), but I suggest you stroll around the incredible garden and find your own special spot. There are hidden paths, great views at sunset, fountains and loads of benches to settle in and wrap your arms around your lover.
One of the prettiest bridges to take your amante is the Ponte Sant'Angelo with fantastic views of St Peters and Castel Sant'Angelo. At night, the lights reflecting off the waters will reflect in your amante's eyes. It's been called the Kissing Bridge because of all the lovers smooching it up there.
The Trevi Fountain is my next suggestion. Sure, it can get crowded. Of course, it's an overdone cliché to toss a coin over your shoulder guaranteeing your return to Rome. But it is romantic, especially if you visit after a late supper when it's lighting has full effect. Go ahead... toss a coin to hedge your bet that you'll both return to Rome someday where you both fell in love. But there is another, lesser known small fountain on the left corner, just as Piazza Crociferi opens up, that offers another magical legend for lovers: Couples that drink from it are said to remain together for a lifetime. Well worth a sip with your lover.
If you are already engaged and are Roman Catholic, are are already attending your Marriage Preparation courses with your parish, consider a "private" audience with the Pope himself on Valentine's Day held in the Paul VI Hall. This event is called The Joy of Yes is Forever, will take place on February 14th: at 11:00 AM. Not exactly a "private" audience (thousands attend), it still would make a memorable Valentines Day for you and your intended to share. You can register by writing to email@example.com
Strolling along the banks of the Lungotevere in Rome is something that lovers--young or old--can't miss. At one time, there were muddy beaches along the river that always flooded the city, but the construction of the Lungotevere's massive massive walls changed all that. Today the Lungotevere used by joggers, picnickers and people taking their evening passiaggiata (stroll). The Tiber River reflects the lights of Rome and offers a romantic atmosphere best at sunset or twilight. I suggest a stroll near the Isola Tiberina alongside the Trastevere neighborhood. You can a great dinner in Trastevere (my favorite Roman area) and go for a stroll afterwards. Or for daytime, pack a picnic lunch and lay out for hours at the point of the Isola with views of Ponte Rotto, the ruins of the oldest bridge in Rome.
If you consider your Lady Love as being akin to the goddess Venus herself, perhaps you'd like to propose to her in the Temple of Venus. This ancient temple sits in the open on the Velian Hill at the east side of the Roman Forum. This is considered to be ancient Rome's largest temple with one side being for Venus, the Goddess of Love, and the other side for Roma Aeterna--Eternal Rome. It's a fantastic place to make your own history by pledging your love to your Venus for as long as Rome lasts.
Love. Even the Italian government has a heart... If you and your other half are both enamored by classical art, then you can save some money thanks to the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and its annual Innamorati dell’Arte, or In Love with Art offering for romantics who need visual stimulation for their Valentine's Day interlude. On the 13th and 14th of February each year, lovers can visit the national museums and archaeological sites in Rome and get a two-for-one price.
Lock your love and throw away the key into the eternal Tiber River. The Italian author, Federico Moccia started this craze with a scene in his novel Ho Voglio di Te (I Want You). In the story, lovers tie a chain and a padlock around a lamppost on the north side the Ponte Milvio and throw the key into the Tiber River below. Although Rome authorities keep removing the hundreds of thousands of padlocks (fearing the bridge would collapse), lovers are still writing their names and messages on padlocks and locking up their love in defiance.
After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do... live and love to the fullest!
Dammi la tua mano e corriamo uniti per tutta la vita
Give me your hand and we will run together our whole lives.
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