Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year, the day of lovers.
The celebrations have their origins in the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius I substituted Saint Valentine’s day for the ancient fertility rituals dedicated to the Roman God Lupercus and practiced by the Romans until then.
Christianity transformed Lupercalia into a day dedicated to Bishop Valentine of Interamma, patron saint of young lovers, martyred under Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelianus. Tradition has it that his remains can be found in Terni in the basilica that carries his name.
3 things to do on Saint Valentine’s Day for free
- Nothing is more romantic than taking a walk in a beautiful place. And it’s free.
- A walk at Le Piagge in Pisa. Le Piagge is a park along the river Arno, just outside the immediate city center of Pisa. It’s a very quiet place, with plenty of benches to sit and watch the river flow by. It’s closed to car traffic, so it’s very peaceful.
- A walk in Piazza dei Miracoli after dark: spectacular. And very, very romantic. When the crowds have left, you might be the only ones there. The Field of Miracles at night is impressive, thanks to the contrast between the bright green lawn and the white marble buildings lit by purple lights. So beautiful!
- A walk in the countryside in Southern Tuscany. There are many beautiful minor country roads that are perfect for a romantic walk. I have recently written a guest post for the Velvet Escape Blog about a beautiful walk near Casina di Rosa, along the Via Leopoldina.
- A walk along the “Vie Cave” near Pitigliano, in the Southern Maremma. Mysterious and beautiful! They were ancient Etruscan roads, carved in stone. See this picture of one of the “Vie Cave“. Pitigliano itself and the “Tuff area” are beautiful and perfect for a day trip in Tuscany.
- A walk on the beach in winter: is there anything more romantic than walking on the beach with your significant other on bright winter’s day? The stretch of coast between Marina di Grosseto and Castiglione della Pescaia, in the Maremma, is ideal. There is a large pine wood forest which keeps the noise of the cars away and the beach is large, sandy and there are beautiful dunes. It’s just spectacular. Another really beautiful place is the beach at Marina di Alberese, part of the Maremma Nature Park. A third option is Marina di Vecchiano, in the National Park of San Rossore, near Pisa. And if you prefer more dramatic, rocky coastlines, Il Romito, near Livorno or the rocks on the Isle of Giglio are perfect for your very romantic Saint Valentine’s walk.
- Enjoy the natural hot springs in Petriolo or Saturnia. Yes, it’s free, and sexy!!!
- Visit the Abbeys and small country churches that dot the Tuscan countryside.
- The Abbey of San Galgano is mysterious and charming. It’s connected with the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone, which is said to have originated here. A sword in the stone is venerated in the Monastery of Monte Siepi. It’s possible to walk from the village of Monticiano to the abbey crossing fields and woods. Very romantic: it’s a magic place.
- The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. This abbey still houses a Benedictine community. It’s located in the spectacular landscape of the Crete Senesi, quintessential Tuscany.
- The Abbey of Sant’Antimo, near Montalcino, where you can listen to Gregorian chants. Perfect location for a walk in the surrounding countryside as well.
- Pieve ad Lamulas, a beautiful and ancient church immersed in a chestnut grove near the village of Arcidosso on Monte Amiata. Ideal location for a walk in the chestnut groves of the highest mountain in Tuscany. It’s off-the-beaten-path but definitely well worth it.
- The chapel of the Madonna di Vitaleta, probably the most photographed chapel in Tuscany.
- The Abbey of San Piero a Grado near Pisa.
- The ancient Ardengheschi Abbey near my home village.
5 inexpensive romantic things to do in Tuscany
- Climb to the top of some famous tower and tell your significant other you love him or her.
- Visit a garden.
- Pisa Botanic Garden, the most ancient in Europe (2,50 euros)
- Gardens of the Mansions near Lucca or Ville Lucchesi (5-10 euros)
- Rent a tandem bike and bike around Lucca city walls (5,50 euros per hour or 12 euros per day)
- Visit Pisa and the Park of San Rossore, down to the coast, on a horse-drawn carriage (9-15 euros). Similar prices for the same type of activity in Lucca, or Florence.
- Visit a chocolate factory: I can recommend De Bondt, much appreciated chocolate producers from Pisa. I believe the visit to the laboratory itself is free but it’s practically impossible to get out of there without buying some of their delicious chocolate.
- Visit a winery or an olive oil producer: the choice of wineries to visit in Tuscany is huge. Some of the wineries, such as Perazzeta in the village of Montenero d’Orcia are very inexpensive (approx 10 euros per person). We organize low-cost wine tours and inexpensive olive oil tours for our guests and can help small groups (2-6 people).
- Enjoy a relaxing day at a spa center. As with the wine and olive oil tours, spa treatments can be very expensive or very inexpensive. A great place to go for an inexpensive and romantic St.Valentine’s Day is Podere Santa Maria. Book their indoor hot jacuzzi pool just for the two of you (15 euros per hour + 10 euros for a robe and slippers if you need them), and try their restaurant afterward: they serve hearty Tuscan food in a beautiful and inexpensive countryside restaurant. Their specialty is the “antipasto”, a full meal in itself.
5 more pricey romantic things to do in Tuscany
- Enjoy a romantic meal in a beautiful restaurant
- Go to a top-scale spa center
- Take a hot-air balloon trip over the Tuscan countryside, and for a very exclusive experience you can also have a champagne breakfast (approx. 250 euros).
- Take a cooking class for 2: there are many options for a cooking class in Tuscany. We offer low-cost cooking classes to our guests but there are many other options.
- Go shopping for that perfect Saint Valentine’s Day gift! Take a shopping tour in Florence (from 5oo euros per person)