VALENTINE'S DAY IN ITALY - OR RATHER NOT?

Cultural and culinary options abound if you need to spoil somebody for Valentine's Day in Italy. You're not in love? It may be worth pretending you are, even if you happen to travel in company of your grandma or a gay friend. This year, Italy's state museums will open their doors for love birds interested in Renaissance art and archaeological finds by offering one free entree for every two visitors. The two tickets for one initiative is valid on the 13th and 14th of February for the national museums all through Italy. Should you want to take advantage of the deal in Siena, visit the biggest collection of Sienese art at the PINACOTECA NAZIONALE. In case you're not in the city of the Palio on Valentine's day, check the Beni Culturali  (the ministry of culture website) for a complete list of museums adhering to the initiative in Tuscany and the rest of Italy. 



Restaurant Mille Vini in Siena's Medici fortress
Waiting for the love birds:
Restaurant Mille Vini in Siena's Medici fortress



Once you've renewed your wedding vows in front of a Duccio or Lorenzetti painting, move on to the more down-to-earth aspect of love with the Valentines' program at Siena's medieval fortress. Entrance is for free, so access is no issue even if you just had a major argument over breakfast and decided to split up for the day. The impressive wine shop in the fortress hosts an exhibition on the history of wine in Tuscany, which provides a lot of interesting info between two glasses of Tuscan red. To deepen your understanding of the show you may want to stay on for the candle light dinner at the fortress' beautiful Mille Vini restaurant. The menu starts off in best medieval tradition with some honeyed wine, and is further accompanied by San Gimignano's white Vernaccia and a red wine produced by the monks at Southern Tuscany's stunning Monte Oliveto abbey (that should do for the blessing). Check the Mille Vini restaurant website for menu and pricing.  

The 14th of February being a Thursday this year, vegetarians looking for a stylish Valentine's Day option should check out restaurant Tre Cristi's gourmet dinners for vegetable lovers which are a new entree in Siena's night life (not in town on the 14th? Check them out any other Thursday night of the year).  

You really don't care about Valentine's day? Skiing on Mount Amiata may be an option for you then. I don't know of a better place in Italy to escape heart shaped pizzas and pink desserts. It's where I can be found on the 14th of February - which happens to be the date of my birthday. Because honestly, would you want to celebrate your big day in the company of starry-eyed couples, who exchange romantic gifts and really just want to be back in their hotel room? I am much better off with downhill skiing in a sleepy Tuscan winter resort. 


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