Italy Blog


Woo-ed By Italy On Valentine’s Day

valentine's day italy

Valentine’s day – the day of love. Italy – the country of love. Valentine’s day in Italy is surely a match made by Cupid himself. Each city in Italy is a heart that beats amore; from the cobbled streets to the crumbling terracotta walls, from the gilt altars to the golden spires. No-one can spend time in an Italian city without being charmed, feeling their senses slip, and falling, just a little, in love with their surroundings. Its not just the place, but the people – and Italians are undoubtedly and unrefutably the masters of wooing. We’re not just talking Romeo and Juliet romance, we’re talking passion for food, for wine, for their traditions, for their heritage. But what is the Italian art of wooing? 

My observation and experiences have given me plenty of material from which to identify their techniques. Here is the three stage process that I’ve deduced: 

1) Catch the eye

2) Draw the attention, swoop the subject along

3) Seal the deal with a declaration of adoration

So lets use this formula and woo like an Italian in two of Italy’s most well-known and well-loved cities – Rome and Florence.. For each city I’ll give you two itineraries of where to go and what to eat..


couple in love rome italy
Photo credit: Andrea Matone

Itinerary 1 

1) Be up with the lark and literally catch the eye with a view of Rome from one of the city’s remaining five hills (for those of you who didn’t know, Ancient Rome was built on seven hills). Once you’ve seen a sleepy Rome bathed in soft light as the sun begins to rise, you’ll be grateful you dragged yourself out of bed. Depending where you’re staying in Rome, there are two spots I’d recommend – Gianicolo is the second highest of the hills and overlooks the Vatican and Trastevere areas; the view is magnificent and you will be flanked by a huge statue of Garibaldi on horseback, proudly surveying the city. Alternatively, on the opposite side of the river, by Circo Massimo, Giardino degli Aranci offers a stunning view across the city and towards St .Peter’s basilica. Whilst you’re up there you can also have a sneak peek through the Malta keyhole (and avoid the queues at that time!)

2) After the early start, let’s be swept through Rome’s historical centre and find some hidden gems. Head to Baccano which is a beautiful brasserie steps from the Trevi Fountain and reward your early start with croissants and coffee. Watch the city start to warm up; bleary eyed tourists emerging from hotels, shop keepers unrolling shutters and opening doors to the world, street stall workers meticulously arranging their wares. This is a great chance to get up close and personal with the fountain before the crowds set in. At this point, as with all good love stories, its time to let things evolve naturally.. I want you to lose yourself in the side streets of Centro Storico. My loose suggestions are this; wander to the Spanish Steps then back down towards Campo dei Fiori, passing Piazza Navona and/or the Pantheon. For a late lunch, try Osteria della Fortunata in Campo dei Fiori for a pasta experience you’ll never forget, or just down the road is Roscioli where your heart will melt for the cheese and meat selections.

3) And now for the unforgettable declaration of desire that Rome so effortlessly yet powerfully provides. We’re returning up high again for a breathtaking dinner in one of Rome’s many rooftop restaurants. A personal favourite is Casina Valadier in Villa Borghese which was renovated a few years back and whose interior rivals the beauty of its hill top panoramic views. Or Les Etoiles, the restaurant of the Hotel Atlante Star whose intimate, unadulterated view of St. Peter’s Basilica will blow you away. Note that many of Rome’s hotels have roof terrace restaurants but all will require booking in advance for Valentine’s day.

love couple rome italy
Photo credit: Artur Jakutsevich

Itinerary 2

1) Catch the eye and the stomach with a breakfast with a view to start your day of discovery. Either relax on the roof terrace of one of the many hotels in the centre – Hotel Forum for example has a gorgeous view. Or grab yourself a croissant to go and head to one of the hills recommended in itinerary one.

2) And now its time to discover the other sides of Rome, to delve deeper into that which makes so many fall in love with the city.. Its attire; the gems just outside the centre. If you fancy feeling like a Count or Countess then take yourself on the train up to Tivoli. A hillside town from whose very cobbled streets and ancient buildings, romance seeps. Villa d’Este’s magnificent terraced gardens and fountains will transport you back to its 16th century original splendor. Stop for a bite in any of the cafes that take your fancy. Alternatively, take the train to Ostia Antica, Rome’s intimate and characterful answer to Naples’s Pompeii. It’s the perfect place to take a picnic and get lost amongst the ancient ruins. If the weather isn’t picnic friendly (it has been known to be warm enough in Rome in February) then grab a bowl of pasta in one of the village’s eateries.

3) Lets finish the day with a true Italian declaration: food! Italians spend the majority of their time thinking about the heart or the stomach, in equal proportions. The expression ‘the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach’ rings true loud and clear here. And so lets end with a cute and cosy dinner like a local. Allow the flavours, textures and passion of the chef satisfy your stomach and warm your heart. I’d recommend Trattoria dal Toscano for a restaurant that balances food with atmosphere. Alternatively why not jump right in and celebrate your day in the busy bubbling Trattoria Vecchia Roma in whose vibrant atmosphere you can enjoy, arguably, one of Rome’s best Pasta Amatriciana.


valentine's day in florence

Photo credit: The Blonde Abroad

Itinerary 1

1) Lets be honest, there really is no better way to catch your eye than with a sunrise view, and Florence is a chocolate box perfect city to view from above. The colours, the rooftops, the tiles.. Will woo you in the orangey glow of sunrise from Piazzale Michelangelo. It’ll be totally worth the early alarm, particularly as you could be some of the only people there to soak up the panorama.

2) And now to fall in love (with Florence) in a day. Start in the cute and characterful Vivaldi for breakfast sustenance while you remind yourself that love is never easy and that today will be no easier on the feet as you walk the historical centre of Florence. But, like all good romances, it will be worth it! Allow yourself to be swept along – starting with Ponte Vecchio, wander past the Duomo, pop into churches, perhaps admire Botticelli at the Uffizzi if you feel like some art to wow the senses. Pick up some street food and sit on a bench in a piazza and feel the heart and soul of the city beating through the bricks, cobbles and tiles.

3) This evening experience Florence’s real Italian declaration at the restaurant La Giostra – feel special, unique and yet part of the family here. You’ll struggle not to be won over by the romantic yet vibrant atmosphere and the food. Enjoy. Nothing says romance like a sepia lit nighttime city stroll, so save time and energy for some refreshing night air. 

valentine's day in florence italy

Photo credit: The cablook

Itinerary 2

1) Start the day with a street view that will satisfy all your senses; grab a freshly baked croissant and sit in Piazza del Duomo on a bench. The perfect place to meditate on what can only be described as the glorious Duomo exterior as the piazza slowly fills up with tourists bustling and photo-taking, and locals powering past enroute to work.

2) Florence is undoubtedly a city that wins hearts. However, why not allow yourself to be woo-ed by its neighbouring towns too? The Renaissance walled town of Lucca is a pocket-sized gem that you cant help but fall for. Stroll the tree-lined leafy ramparts, weave in and out of the maze of streets within the walls, stop on a side street and have a glass of wine and snack.

3) Returning to Florence, be re-reminded of how stunning the city is and have your breath taken away in a rooftop restaurant, As with Rome – the Italian hotels know how to wow guests and visitors alike with their panoramic restaurants. I’d recommend the Westin Excelsior for an unforgettable dining experience; expect to go weak at the knees for the enclosed rooftop garden setting and the top quality cuisine.

Of course these are all just suggestions and perhaps you’ve got your own insiders restaurant recommendation, however, the structure of these itineraries is based on my magic amore formula. Even if you’re not looking for romance, follow these ideas to fall more in love with the city, the food, the people, the country. Woo like a local this Valentines Day.

Written by: Holly Streader
If you liked this article, read also “THE BEST MEDIEVAL TOWNS IN ITALY”

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