I snapped the above photo in the Coop supermarket in Sansepolcro, Italy the day before Valentine’s Day, February 14th. It combines the Italian penchant for love and whimsy. This ad sits above a variety of floral arrangements on sale. The phrase L’amore non ha età translates roughly to “love knows no season.”
In Italy, Valentine’s Day also means flowers, chocolates and romantic dinners.
I wish my snap had been more in focus but these are a few of the Valentine’s Day floral arrangements for sale.
The Real St. Valentine – We Think
St. Valentine, a Roman Catholic saint, was born sometime in the third century in Terni, a city in southern Umbria. He became the Bishop of Terni and eventually a martyred Roman Catholic saint. St. Valentine lore is murky and always a bit different, depending on the source. His story could evem be a composite of two or three different men. He was supposedly dedicated to converting pagans to Christianity and battled persecution of Christians. The pagan authorities in Rome were not amused and San Valentino was beheaded on the Plaminian Way during an era of persecutions ordered by the emperor Aurelius. Today, his relics rest in the Basilica di San Valentino in Terni and every year on February 14th, engaged couples congregate there for a civil benediction ceremony called Festa della Promessa (the Festival of Promise).
Somewhere along the way, he became the patron saint of lovers all over the world. Legend developed that he would give a rose from his garden to people, two of whom fell in love and married. Other stories maintain that he married Christian couples, which was forbidden at the time. These stories carried forward to the point that one day out of the year, February 14th, is dedicated in his name to the benediction of matrimony. And to romantic love in general.
Write to Juliet
While a special day was set aside for lovers in the name of San Valentino, the real epicenter of romance in Italy can be found in the town of Verona, thanks to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. They say if you are in love or want to be, then visit Verona. La Casa di Giuletta (Juliet’s house) can be found in the center of town. The courtyard of the house, under the famous balcony, is routinely mobbed with tourists snapping pictures of themselves caressing the right breast of the bronze statue of Juliet. It is particular disconcerting to see 9-year old boys doing this…but they do. You can see how shiny they’ve polished this part of the statue.
The courtyard is also home to a riot of graffiti-covered walls, particularly a kaleidoscope of stuck-on band-aids with colorful inscriptions of romance. My daughters were surprised to find there were no niches in the bricks into which one could nestle lovelorn letters, as seen in the movie “Letters to Juliet.”
However, all hope is not lost. You can pour your heart out to Juliet in a letter and send it to Verona here: julietclub.com
She may not answer but at least you can unload.
Even a Potato Has Heart
A propos of nothing, here’s a heart-shaped potato I found at the grocery store. It saw its shadow which means there’ll be six more weeks of Valentine’s Days.