Italians are the quintessential romantics. They’re famous for it. Especially the guys who, if pop culture is to believed, can make a woman swoon from an early age.
My Maremman husband may have missed out that romance gene, but that’s a story for another time.
If you’re spending the sappiest day of the year in the Maremma – lucky you -and aren’t like my husband – convinced that Valentine’s Day is a commercial scam – then you’re in for a real treat.
Dinner and dancing is romantic, as are heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and stuffed toys, but considering that we are in the country of love, I thought I would step it up a notch with a few Valentine’s Day activities that are out of the box and uniquely Maremman.
Midnight romp in the Cascate del Mulino
This one is a no brainer. The forecast for Friday night is a clear and chilly 11°C (51°F). That’s not exactly beach weather, but the hot spring will warm you up in no time.
There are no floodlights at the Cascate del Mulino, so if you prefer not to break a leg before the romance starts, bring a torch. The hot springs are free and open 24/7 and there are plenty of car parks.
There is simply no experience like the hot springs at night – just watching the steam rise into the starry sky and breathing the fresh air is so good, it’s almost cliche.
A feast of Maremman classics
If you’re staying in a apartment or somewhere with a kitchen, why not show off your cooking skills with a traditional Maremman feast? In my recipes page, you can find easy and delicious dishes and desserts.
My top pick is Caldario – a seafood soup that is a staple on the Argentario Coast. You can pick up incredible seafood from the market stalls that line the port in Porto Santo Stefano. While you’re there, buy an oyster or two. They’re a bargain €1 each – if that’s not an aphrodisiac, I don’t know what is.
The perfect match for any seafood dish in the Maremma is our very own Ansonica Costa dell’Argento – a robust white with scents of exotic fruits.
If you don’t feel like making dessert, pick something up from your local pasticceria – a cream filled bigne or anything with chocolate are always winners.
A Tribute to Bob Dylan
This event is technically on the 15th, but I couldn’t resist. It’s a tribute to the one and only Bob Dylan in Monterotondo Marittimo. The free concert will be held at the old frantoio in town. As the Swedish, of all things, tribute band plays, you’ll be surrounded by photographs and other memorabilia of the rock god. There will live painting, drinks and dinner.
Picnic in the Parco Faunistico dell’Amiata
There is nothing unusual about a Valentine’s Day picnic, but the Parco Faunistico dell’Amiata isn’t your average park. In one word it is breathtaking.
With comfortable shoes, you are free to wander through open meadows, forests of alberi monumentale (thousand-year-old trees) and mountain tops. If you can make the 30 minute hike, you can get all the way to David Lazzaretti’s utopia.
You can understand why this self-styled second coming of Christ chose Monte Labbro. The view is breathtaking. You can literally see all of Tuscany without a house or building to spoil the view. Pick your way around the ruins of David’s stone church or find a nice spot away from the donkeys and cows that roam the park.
If you don’t feel like packing a picnic, there is a small, but sweet restaurant inside the park. While you’re there, look out into the sanctuary of the majestic Apennine wolves.
And… the best restaurant for a romantic dinner
My top pick for a Valentine’s Day meal is Bracali. This Michelin-starred restaurant is simply one of the Maremma’s best.
The dishes are happiness on a plate, made with pure elegance and the absolute finest ingredients around. It’s a bit pricey, but Valentine’s Day comes around once a year.
I’ll be spending this Friday dreaming of their scampi and ricotta stuffed ravioli, or maybe their chocolate flan with sour cherries.
You can book for lunch or dinner on their website.