In Italy, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day is also a celebration of love called San Valentino.
Italy’s February 14 traditions share both surprising similarities and differences with Valentine’s Day in the USA. Both countries share a common bond of sweethearts professing their love, and couples often celebrate with a romantic fine dining experience.
Are you looking for a romantic and unique way to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? Here is the inside scoop on history and traditions that will get you ready for San Valentino. Impress your special someone by making the holiday just a little different this year.
San Valentino: From a springtime festival to a day of lovers
In Italy, San Valentino began as a multi-day springtime festival where lovers would tour ornamental gardens and listen to poetry. Over time, the festival began to take on traditions that weren’t very sweet, and the holiday fell dormant for centuries.
Both San Valentino and Valentine’s Day eventually became more romanticized after Shakespeare’s writings became popular in the 17th century. The best traditions carried over from England to other countries, changing and reviving the celebrations. Much of the culture from America’s Valentine’s Day has informed San Valentino in the past. Despite the similarities, though, Italy’s San Valentino is still truly unique, offering a fun alternative to explore.
Italy’s February 14 now officially recognizes San Valentino, a 3rd century Roman Catholic saint who represents love. Unlike in the United States, though, where children exchange Valentines, San Valentino is strictly for lovers. In fact, the day of San Valentino is also known in Italy as the festa delgi innamorati, or the day of lovers. It is mainly celebrated by couples and sweethearts as a day of declaring their romantic love through gifts and attaching padlocks to local landmarks. Of course, the day is usually topped off with a romantic dinner of fine Italian cuisine.
A celebration of (food) lovers
The USA and Italy definitely share a common love of fine dining on February 14. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest restaurant day in the USA, and one of the top restaurant choices in America is Italian food. It seems that many Americans are celebrating San Valentino without even knowing it!
One type of food that marries both the Italian and American traditions is chocolate. In Italy, the prestigious chocolate maker Perugina produces special edition Baci chocolates featuring a red wrapper and a liquid cherry center for San Valentino. Americans display their love of chocolate on Valentine’s Day by purchasing 58 million pounds of chocolate. While the two cultures might differ a little in quality and quantity of chocolate, both can agree on the enjoyment of indulging desserts that satisfy both cultural curiosity and a celebration of food.
This year, make February 14 special by celebrating San Valentino with fine Italian food and wine. Share your love (and knowledge) with your foodie sweetheart by experiencing the culture of Italy through a San Valentino meal.
From Il Giallo: We want you to have the opportunity to experience our multi-day San Valentino menu for February 11-13 and February 14. Place your reservations here to ensure the best San Valentino fine dining experience.