Surviving Valentine’s Day in the City of Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today at Dialogue, we’ve got an exclusive interview for you with our very own, Arianna Esardi – our wonderful project manager and talented linguist who was born and raised in the same city as Romeo and Juliet  Verona, the city of love. Having spent the last 8 or so years going back and forth between the UK and Italy, Arianna is our in-house expert on the differences and similarities between Italian and British culture. So read on for some top tips on how to survive Valentine’s Day in Italy and some interesting facts about the Italian language and romantic traditions… 

What traditions do you have in Italy on this day?


Well, something that has always been a tradition, but it became more and more popular after a particular film came out in the 2000s, are the locks with your name on. The film was called 3 metri sopra il cielo and the meaning is the equivalent of your ‘cloud nine’ expression – that you’re really, really excited or happy and it translates literally to ‘three meters above the sky’. So that’s a classic romantic gesture that couples often like to do on Valentine’s Day – attaching a padlock with your names on it to a bridge and then throwing the key away into the river as a sign of love.


But it’s not that straightforward! If you take a look at the picture of Juliet’s courtyard in the picture above, you can see that there is a gate to the left of her statue. This was once a favourite spot for attaching locks to, but over time, it got covered in so many locks that it wasn’t possible to even open the gate anymore! So, they have all been removed and now, it is actually classed as an act of vandalism to attach locks to any historical monument, including the city centre bridges – which are from the medieval or Roman era. So, if you want to celebrate your love in this way, best to find a more remote place that isn’t going to damage or weigh down any historical monument! You’ve been warned!

Do you think Italian is a romantic language?


I like to think so… I like to think so! We have a lot of poets and authors… it’s quite a nice and melodic language. It sounds really beautiful as are the sounds of many of the words as well. I think we have a wonderful vocabulary and you can say and create wonderful things with our language.


What do you think are some of the most romantic Italian phrases? Let’s start with ‘I Love You’. That must be a romantic one…


That is actually an interesting one. So, there’s two ways of saying I love you in Italian; one is more directed towards your partner or your loved one. You’ll find people occasionally saying it to their parents, but it tends to be really a romantic kind of I love you, which is Ti amo. And the other one is more directed towards your friends or your family, the people that you love in a different way, which is Ti voglio bene.


Another phrase that I personally really like, which comes from La Divina Commedia (Dante), is the phrase l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle, which means the love that moves the sun and the other stars. It conveys the idea of love being the driving force behind a lot of what we do – our motivations, emotions and actions.


Do you think English is a romantic language in comparison?


I love English poetry and I love literature. So, I think you have a really nice language that you can do a lot with as well. I love the British accent and I might be biased because my partner is British, but I think it sounds really nice! Um… a part of me wants to say no though; it’s certainly not as romantic as Italian, because you know, my language comes first! But I think you definitely have ways of saying things and idioms that are brilliantly descriptive and can be so delicate at the same time, so the language can be romantic when you want it to be!


Speaking of idioms, Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so what’s your advice on how to survive Valentine’s Day today in Italy?


There’s going to be a lot of love hearts about, lots of couples going round, especially in Verona and in the more touristic cities like Venice. You might see a few proposals as well; Valentine’s Day seems to be a great day for getting engaged. But as for surviving the day and the all too visible PDAs, I’d just say go and do something fun with your friends – it doesn’t have to be a day just for romance. Go and celebrate your friendships – have dinner, go for drinks, go to the cinema with the people you love – your family, your friends, on your own – why not? Just enjoy being in a beautiful place in a beautiful part of the world.

Are you interested in having cultural training classes with Dialogue? Then get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you survive any day, meeting or occasion in your language and culture of choice!

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