How celebrate Valentine’s Day in Rome? The Eternal City offers some of the most romantic locations in the entire world, so it won’t be hard to find a proper way to spend the night with your beloved. However, before taking a candlelight dinner and walk down the romantic alleys of the city centre, let’s discover the history of Valentine’s Day in Rome and the legends linked to this celebration.
In fact, the 15th February was the day of one of the most ancient and mysterious rituals on Rome: the so-called Lupercalia. The name comes from the legendary she-wolf (lupa) that saved Romulus and Remus by taking them to her grotto, the Luperca. The feast of Lupercalia began right here, in the morning, with the immolation of two (scape)goats and a dog (in place of the wolf). Then two young men (the Luperci) were put in connection to the knife used for the sacrifice, still dropping blood, and dressed with the skin of the just killed goats. They had to run around the Palatine Hill while whipping as many women as possible with stripes made of goatskin. It was meant to bring fertility and fecundity for the all city.
Thereafter, a procession started on the Via Sacra (the main road of the Roman Forum). Let’s get to the 15 February 44 B.C., one month before Julius Caesar will be killed. The procession stops before him (named dictator for life the day earlier) and someone from the crowd lays the crown of king of Rome at his feet. He ignores it. Then Cassius (one of the future killers) lays it on his knees. He ignores it again. At last Marcus Anthony (probably drunk) put the crown on the head of Caesar. He turns it down and throw it away, stating that Rome has only one king, Jupiter. Nonetheless, this savvy behavior won’t spare him the life a month later.
This Roman holiday then changed to Saint Valentine’s Day in 496 A.D. by the will of pope Gelasius I, one of the frequent appropriation made by Christianism of the Roman folklore and heritage (with a slight change in the date too, put forward to the 14th of February). Back to present time, Valentine’s Day is worldwide known as the Holiday of Lovers. Well, what to do in Rome for Valentine’s Day?
Let’s start with some flowers! The best place in the centre to buy flowers is certainly Campo de’ Fiori, that also features a lovely street market. All the flower stands are on the same side, and the prices are quite reasonable. A great and fun way to explore the amazing sites Rome has to offer is taking one of our Segway Tours. Our pick is the Classic Rome morning tour (to have plenty of leisure time in the afternoon) or the Panoramic Tour, departing at 16.00. This way you will meet a fantastic sunset from the Orange Garden. But if you are up for a late dinner and a romantic night experience, the Evening Special is what you are looking for, our Segway Tour focused on the best lit up monuments. For Valentine’s Day, you get 10% discount on all our tours with the promo code LOVETURTLES
As for the night, our recommendations go to two completely different experiences: the Tramjazz, a vintage tram turned into a restaurant, where you can enjoy a good dinner accompanied by live music. And the classy, Michelin starred restaurant Per Me Giulio Terrinoni, with a special Valentine’s Day menu.