Chocolate lovebirds on display at a chocolate festival where lovers come to celebrate Valentine's Day in Terni, Italy.

Stories of how Valentine’s Day came to exist have a dozen different origins, and every place you visit will have a different version of the tale. But there is one town in Italy that can tell their story and believe that it is the truth (at least mostly). Terni, Italy is the town of great St. Valentine history: the saint was born here at the end of the 2nd century and is now buried within the Basilica of St. Valentine. As a result, Terni is called La Citta degli Innamorati or 'the City of Lovers'. See how to celebrate Valentine's Day in style—spend Valentine's Day in Terni, Italy.

The origin of St. Valentine’s Day

One origin story for Valentine’s Day goes like this: Saint Valentine was known for his love of flowers, and especially his love of roses. When young visitors would come through his gardens, he would give them the flowers to enjoy. One day, two such visitors were fighting when they entered the garden, and St. Valentine gave them flowers while helping them to reconcile. The two visitors fell in love and got married after receiving the flowers, and the story spread, forever linking St. Valentine with falling in love.

Another version of the story involves the same couple, who were fighting in St. Valentine’s garden, and instead of giving them flowers, he told them a story about doves, which led to them reconciling, falling in love and getting married. No one knows the exact story, but almost everyone agrees that this is how we came to use the term ‘lovebirds’.

Celebrating St. Valentine’s in Terni

Whichever story you prefer, St. Valentine’s loving spirit is alive and well in Terni. The saint’s ashes are a popular ‘must-see’ tourist destination and the Basilica that houses them is impressive as well. Every year, the town of Terni still celebrates its patron saint with a full month of activities and entertainment, including music, art, exhibitions, and more. A few components of the festival include jewellery-making competitions and the ‘A Year of Loving’ award, which honours a special act of love.

The locals really kick it up a notch on the traditional Valentine’s Day, February 14. Terni celebrates St. Valentine’s Day with a huge feast that is open to all, called the Feast of the Promised, around the basilica where the saint’s remains are interred. After the meal, couples are welcomed to come forward to be blessed in their union, with the same blessing that St. Valentine himself delivered all those many years ago.

The other February festival

If the feast doesn’t sound like your kind of event, don’t fret. There are numerous other things for visitors to do during Valentine’s Day in Terni. In fact, there is another festival that runs alongside the Valentines-themed events. It is called Cioccolentino and it translates to ‘chocolate and other small confectionaries’. It is a festival dedicated to chocolate and the many things you can create from it. Full of delectable treats and delicious chocolate creations, Cioccolentino is the perfect way to experience Terni without focusing solely on Valentine’s aspect of the town.

Whether you visit Terni, Italy with a partner on your arm, or are exploring the town with other travel companions, it is a great opportunity to learn about the history behind the holiday, and the little town that keeps the stories alive and celebratory festivals and feasts flowing. Be sure to protect your romantic holiday in Italy from any unwelcome surprises by booking online travel insurance with Cover-More.

Image courtesy of Spaziohoreca