If you’re like most of our customers, your Valentines day tradition consists of running around at the last minute for a card or gift so you aren’t empty handed when your spouse springs one on you. Or wearing out your dialing fingers trying to get a reservation that morning just to be squeezed into the 10:00 PM seating at at Gustav’s Borscht Emporium…

If you were hoping to take some inspiration from the origin of Valentines day, well sadly that is open to some debate. Evidence suggests that the day originated in in the Roman Empire as a holiday that celebrated the Queen of Roman gods and goddesses. The ancient Romans also considered queen Juno to be the goddess of Women and Marriage.

But another legend about the origin of Valentine’s Day refers to St. Valentine, a priest who lived in the first century AD. Legend has it that he was executed on February 14th in approximately 270 AD for illegally marrying lovers during wartime. This was against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II who much preferred his young men to learn how to throw a spear accurately and focus all their energies on war and conquest. Once these secret marriages were discovered, St Valentine had his romantic head chopped off on the day that bears his name, and was later named a saint by Pope Gelasius.

So What do they Do In Italy?

Surprisingly it is America that has exported many of its valentine traditions to Italy, not vice versa. Italians give each other flowers, have romantic dinners and exchange chocolates, just like here.

VeronaInLoveMost Italians consider Florence and Venice are to be two of the most romantic places in Italy. Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, celebrates Valentine’s Day with four-days of events designated “Verona in Love.” There is a contest for the most beautiful letter written to Juliet. In the center of Piazza dei Signori a giant red heart is painted on the street and illuminated heart-shaped lanterns are featured throughout the city. Many of the local hotels offer deals and the restaurants in Verona feature specially priced menus, just like Rosie’s!

Lucchetti dell’Amore (The Locks of Love)

locks-of-loveAnother recent tradition has to do with the phenomena of putting locks on bridges, symbolizing a couples enduring and undying affection for each other. The tradition of locking padlocks to bridges, railings and lamp posts began in Italy a little more than four years ago after the release of the best-selling book “Ho voglio di te” (I want you) by the Italian author Federico Moccia. A popular movie with the same name followed starring Riccardo Scamarcio and Laura Chiatti.

In the story young lovers tie a chain and a padlock around a lamppost on the north side of Rome’s ponte Milvio and inscribes their names on it, lock it and throw the key into the Tiber River below. Talk about water pollution!

Authorities agree: In Florence police removed more than 5000 locks from the Ponte Vecchio where it is a crime to attach these locks. Despite this they continue to appear anywhere and everywhere they can be attached. The phenomenon has spread to Turin, Bologna, Palermo and even into other European countries.

Our advice is simple: Whether you want to put a heart shaped lock at the top of Everest, or just want a nice meal at a local restaurant that knows how to treat lovers… plan ahead. It’s more romantic to know you spent time and energy preparing, than seeming like your v-day was an afterthought. And trust me, your partner will always know what bucket you fall into!