Things to do in Rome

10 Perfect Valentine’s Day Date Ideas in Rome

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As the season of love rolls around this year, if you happen to find yourself in the Italian capital with your special someone, you may feel bewildered when trying to dream up the perfect day. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you certainly can’t experience it in just one. But you and your partner can definitely make the most of Valentine’s Day in the Italian capital. Whether your relationship thrives on exploring new cuisines and decadent dishes, or you’re both proud connoisseurs of art and like to indulge your creative side - Rome’s offerings will fan the flames of all kinds of love.

The History of Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia


The widely known lore of Valentine’s Day is usually understood to originate from the Christian celebration of the martyrdom of St. Valentine on 14th February in the 3rd century, A.D. However, the true origins of this sappy holiday are grisly indeed. The festival of Lupercalia could be summarized as a violent celebration of sensuality and fertility, including a strange mix of blood sacrifices, goatskin, a sex lottery, and even a feast. And if that weren’t strange enough, the festival had an aspect of match-making to it as well, whereby some couples entered into matrimony. Now that’s a long leap from the killing of Saints, isn’t it? Regardless of which origin story you may choose to believe - the connection of this day to Roman history is undeniable. So, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by enjoying the intimate attractions of Rome whilst arm-in-arm with the apple of your eye?

Valentine's Day in Rome
Feast of Lupercalia by Andrea Cammasei

Lupercalia

The widely known lore of Valentine’s Day is usually understood to originate from the Christian celebration of the martyrdom of St. Valentine on 14th February in the 3rd century, A.D. However, the true origins of this sappy holiday are grisly indeed. The festival of Lupercalia could be summarized as a violent celebration of sensuality and fertility, including a strange mix of blood sacrifices, goatskin, a sex lottery, and even a feast. And if that weren’t strange enough, the festival had an aspect of match-making to it as well, whereby some couples entered into matrimony. Now that’s a long leap from the killing of Saints, isn’t it? Regardless of which origin story you may choose to believe - the connection of this day to Roman history is undeniable. So, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by enjoying the intimate attractions of Rome whilst arm-in-arm with the apple of your eye?

The Truth About Valentine’s Day

Named after the 3rd century Roman saint who was beheaded on 14th February in 269 AD, Valentine’s Day commemorates the martyrdom of this patron saint of lovers and commemorates his passion for the survival of love. He was beheaded for assisting Roman soldiers to marry their lovers, despite their being forbidden to wed by Christian faith of that time. But this transition from martyred saints to red candies, mushy cards, and romantic roses, was actually brought about in the aftermath of the actions of Pope Gelasius after he abolished the festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on 15th February. Eager to replace such a crass festival with the noble memory of St. Valentine, the date of 14th February was chosen to mark his efforts towards promoting love. Shakespeare also linked love and St. Valentine’s Day when he wrote of it in a romantic context in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Valentine's Day in Rome - Top Picks


1. Explore the Ruins of an Ancient Wonder!

valentine's day in rome

If Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is your idea of the perfect date-night movie, you and your partner will have a wonderful time exploring the historic outdoor arena - Colosseum - on Valentine’s Day. What was once the stage for grisly games and fights in Ancient Rome, is now a profound structure that has grown to become synonymous with the city of Rome itself. Walk through the ruins of this landmark site with your significant other and relive your favourite moments from the 2000 hit movie, or take a guided tour to understand the historical events that unfolded in this grand arena. You could also stroll through the Roman Forum and then visit Palatine Hill for an unparalleled view of the city. Immerse yourself and your partner in Ancient Roman life as you witness the remains of what is believed to have been constructed as a gift from the Roman emperors to the general public.

2. Romance, but Make it Horror.

valentine's day in rome

This is the perfect date-night activity if horror is your comfort genre. The underground network of catacombs under the Italian capital are a thrilling exploration site for the adventurous couple that doesn’t scare off easily. Touring the Roman Catacombs is an intriguing way to learn how Rome has developed through the ages, and offers a new perspective from underneath the city - a view not many can brave. You and your partner can take a guided tour to see the historic sites hidden below the Eternal City. Take care to prepare your partner beforehand for the sight of the Christian Catacombs and the spooky Capuchin ‘Bone Chapel’. The Capuchin Crypt holds the skeletal remains of around 3,700 bodies that were believed to be Capuchin friars buried by their order. These remains were preserved as a reminder for the monks who decorated the walls of these crypts, that death could come at any time.

3. Indulge in a Romantic Superstition at the Trevi Fountain

valentine's day in rome

If you’re someone who fawns over tradition, the famous Trevi Fountain is guaranteed to be a romantic spot for you and your partner. This iconic landmark has forever been a favourite destination for tourists visiting Rome - superstitious or not. It was also an iconic filming location in the 2009 blockbuster Angels and Demons. Make a stop at the beautifully carved fountain and follow the custom of tossing a coin into the fountain as you make a wish for everlasting love. You could take things a notch up and make it a truly memorable Valentine’s Day by choosing to pop the big question at this gorgeous fountain, symbolic of hope and dreams. While the Trevi fountain is certainly unique for its intricate Baroque style carvings as well as the fantastical lore which surrounds it, the fountain was actually built from the same material that was used to create the Colosseum, known as pure white travertine stone.

4. For Those Who Find Art in Romance, the Borghese Gallery!

valentine's day in rome

The Borghese Gallery is a must visit for the art-loving couple with a true appreciation for the creative spirit. Spend Valentine’s Day at this landmark site, admiring works of artists like Raphael and Caravaggio. What could be more romantic than being surrounded by art and sculptures that have been lovingly crafted centuries ago by the likes of Bernini and Canova? These notable names have changed the way the world perceives art. Some iconic works (paintings and sculptures) you must see are David with the Head of Goliath, David, The Deposition, and Boy with a Basket of Fruit. Once you and your partner have satiated your creative inclinations, take a romantic stroll through the gardens of the Villa Borghese, sprinkled with blooming flowers and lush lawns. End your visit to the Borghese Gallery in the gardens as you admire the breath-taking view of Rome in the company of your beloved.

5. Explore the Wonders of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel with your Partner

valentine's day in rome

Nothing says “romance” like Michelangelo’s breathtaking rendition of the scenes from Genesis on the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel. These profound scenes and the exquisite attention to detail are a testament to the artistic genius of Michelangelo. The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel are well-known and significant sites for religious and historic reasons. If your partner is a history or art nerd, they will certainly be thrilled to visit the galleries that house an array of classical sculptures and paintings by some renowned Renaissance names. View the displayed works of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Salvador Dalí, Bernini, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso, to name but a few. You can choose to have breakfast in the beautiful Pinecone Courtyard, and customize your visit further by deciding between early-morning or an after-hour entry to the Vatican Museums. Given the holy significance and serenity of these places, it would certainly be the perfect opportunity for a proposal. .

6. Explore the City at a Romantic Time of the Day With Your Partner

valentine's day in rome

When in Rome, do as the Romans do! And what better way to celebrate your love for your partner on Valentine’s Day, than to show them Rome at the romantic hour of dusk? Rome at Dusk Walking Tour is the best fit for couples that like to workout together or enjoy long walks. As the golden hour bathes the city in warm shades of bronze, stroll through the city on this walking tour and see its iconic monuments from the lens of a true local. This tour takes place at the perfect time for a romantic evening, as the city’s hustle-bustle is dying down. When the throngs of tourists start heading back to their hotels, commence your tour from the grand Piazza Venezia with an expert local guide. Keep your ears open for the legends and stories about Rome’s history that the guide may share. You’ll also get to see some hidden gems of the city, such as Galleria Sciarra.

7. Take a Day Trip to the Stunning Amalfi Coast

valentine's day in rome

Here’s a fun option for the globe-trotting couple that rarely stays in one place for long. Pack your bags, load your cameras, and take your nomadic spirits on a day trip to Amalfi Coast for a quick getaway from the hustle-bustle of Rome. This Valentine’s Day trip is going to be one for the books, complete with breathtaking views of the Amalfi coast and souvenirs from the resort town of Positano. What’s more- this is your chance to visit the historic buried city of Pomepii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour guide will be able to share all their insight about the historic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that sadly sealed the fates of the citizens of Pompeii in 79 AD. Nothing reinforces the power of love and the will to make the most of the present, more than the reminder of life’s unpredictability.

8. For the Musically Inclined: Spend a Spectacular Evening Watching Opera

valentine's day in rome

For all the musically inclined couples with an appreciation for classical arts, this spectacular tribute to The Three Tenors is made all the more impactful with the masterful performances of Alessandro Fortunato, Francesco Fortes, and Stefano Sorrentino. You will be transported to a world of melody and pure, raw emotion, as you experience the lilting strings and piano, accompanied by 3 classical dancers. The show exhibits a few of the most famous opera arias in history. Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of emotions that will stun you regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with opera. You will be transported to a world of melody and pure, raw emotion, as you experience this celebrated craft through the masterpieces of Vivaldi, La Traviata, and Rigoletto. Slip into your evening wear and make a romantic night of it with an intimate candle-lit dinner afterwards. The best part? You get to customize your opera experience by choosing from a range of innovative locations such as ruins, cathedrals, or even museums!

9. Take the Specifically Curated Authentic Italian Wine Tour with Your Partner

valentine's day in rome

Eduardo Galeano wrote: We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine. The Frascati Wine Tour is sure to make you feel the same way. This specifically curated walking tour will fulfill the soul of every indulgent, curious, food-loving couple. Meet the expert tour guide who takes you through a day filled with hearty food, delicious wine, plenty of sightseeing opportunities, and memorable moments to cherish with your partner. You can happily skip breakfast because otherwise - we doubt you’ll have any space left to sample the most popular street foods of Rome and sip the local wines, savouring some choice Frascati favourites like porchetta, biscotti, and jug wine. In a fitting celebration of Valentine’s Day, you and your partner will get to visit a quaint vineyard for a glimpse into the culinary history of Frascati. Round out your visit with a delicious Italian lunch afterward!

10. Explore Stunning Ruins of the Roman Pantheon with Your Partner!

valentine's day in rome

It would be considered heresy to visit Rome and to not drop by the iconic Pantheon. And what better way to see this stunning ancient Roman temple, than to do so arm-in-arm with your significant other? As one of the best preserved monuments of ancient Rome, visiting the Pantheon on Valentine’s Day would be the perfect symbolisation of love that outlasts time. You can impress your partner with some historical facts about the temple such as the nifty drainage system in place on the floor of the site - which surprisingly still works today! It can be seen in action while visiting the Pantheon on a rainy day. Through the guided tour, you’ll be able to spot the famous elephant with its obelisk which was designed by Bernini. Also present at the site is the tomb of Raphael. Be sure to see the 'Eye of the Pantheon' and ask your guide to share the stories behind the Basilica of Neptune.

FAQs


What was Valentine's Day originally called in Rome?

Before it evolved into what it is today, Valentine's Day was called Lupercalia in Rome, and was celebrated distinctly differently from how it is today.

Where is Valentine's Day celebrated in Italy?

All over Italy, and especially Rome, of course. However, Florence and Venice are considered among the most romantic cities of Italy. Celebrations are vibrant here, but Verona, really, is the place to be. The location of Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Verona celebrates Valentine's Day with a 4-day celebration, called 'Verona in Love'.

What can you do in Rome on Valentine's Day?

The very air in Rome permeates history. Be it strolling through the city to admire it's ancient monuments are indulging yourself in Italian delicacies, Rome has plenty to offer. Some of the most romantic spots in the city are the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and the Ponte Milvio Bridge.

What does Italy do for Valentine's Day?

Traditionally, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a Spring Festival in Italy. Outdoor events, musical evenings and strolls through gardens are among the many ways Italians celebrate Valentine's Day apart from the traditional fine-dine dates, chocolate exchanges and confessionals.

What season is February in Rome?

With the onset of spring and the withdrawal of winter, the air will be slightly chilly but the weather will remain generally pleasant. The maximum temperatures in Rome in February are around 14°C and the minimum temperatures reach 3°C. It may occasionally rain.

Valentine's Day Rome Guide