What do you get when you pair Italy’s ultimate power saint with gorgeous breath taking urban Italian vistas? Romanza – and just in time to heat things up a bit before this frosty St. Valentine’s Day crosses the calendar. In ancient Rome there were actually numerous sainted Valentines and we’re fine with that, because the world never suffered from too much love. And love is what you’re bound to fall in when crossing the Ponte Sant’Angelo over the River Tiber in Rome. This pedestrian span is anything but plain: Hadrian’s Bridge in antiquity, and later used by pilgrims making their way to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Ponte Sant’Angelo is studded with ten statues of angels. From the marble-covered stone bridge there are fetching views of the Castel Sant’Angelo, the historic Borgo district and of course of the Tiber itself.
Ravishing views in Rome are frankly not hard to find: the view from the top of the Spanish Steps, the beautiful Baroque sweep of the Piazza Navona, the Fontana di Trevi and so much more. Moving north, the romantic plot thickens in Tuscany, where Siena’s Piazza del Campo and Florence’s Piazza della Signoria exude Renaissance glory in any season. And if you already know the Ponte Vecchio, mid-February is the perfect time to fall in love with this Florentine jewel all over again.
We’ve mentioned it before, but Valentine’s Day means it’s time to sing again the praises of Bologna’s understated urban charms. For Kodak moments (remember those?) we’re partial to the Piazza del Nettuno, home to the ravishing Fountain of Neptune. In sculptor Giambologna’s Renaissance tour de force, the god of the sea lords it over all he surveys – in this case, the luscious, ruddy cityscape of largely intact medieval Bologna with its miles of colonnaded arcades.
There may be no more romantic urban vision to behold than that of Venice’s Piazza San Marco. And unlike in the middle of summer, in the time frame of Valentine’s Day the perfect romance of the piazza is yours to enjoy with plenty of elbow room, too. The mystique of Venice invites wandering and you can’t do better than to make your way to the bridge that affords the most romantic Grand Canal views in the city: we’re talking, of course, about the Rialto Bridge. It was finished in 1591, and its two inclined ramps that ascend to a central portico have been a Venice classic ever since. On the San Marco side of the bridge, there are plenty of cozy cafes and lively shopping. There are little shops on the bridge itself, but the show stopper is the view down the Grand Canal from the top.
Milan might not be the first city in Italy that comes to mind when you think about romance, and for that matter, it probably doesn’t mind: there’s more than enough in the worlds of fashion, food and design here to keep the natives busy. However, if you find yourself on the roof the famous Duomo (easier to access than you might think), you risk falling in love with the views not only of the great white cathedral but of this teeming Italian metropolis in all directions. Isn’t it romantic?
Where in Italy would you spent your Valentine’s Day? Let us know with a comment.