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The Most Romantic Night of the Year in Italy

June 18, 2019
Romantic Night balloons in Follina (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

For many, being a tourist in Italy is synonymous with romance. Whether you’re on a gondola in Venice; taking a passeggiata around the shores of Lake Como; visiting Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet; or watching the water glisten in the moonlight off the Isle of Capri, evenings in Italy tend to be dreamier than they are in most other places.

But, without a doubt, the first Saturday after the summer solstice (which falls on June 22nd this year), La Notte Romantica (Romantic Night) promises to be the most romantic night of the year of all in Italy, both for locals and visitors. Last year, more than 1 million people participated in these festivities.

Romantic Night In Italy - July 22

Romantic Night In Italy

Traditions of Romantic Night

On this night, for the fourth year, the Association of I Borghi più belli d’Italia (Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy) will once again be sponsoring “Romantic Night.”

This national event takes place in many of the 294 small villages the Association has recognized and certified as “most beautiful” in Italy. Make no mistake. These aren’t the large, iconic cities that are frequented by tourists. Instead, they are carefully curated, off-the-beaten-track destinations that are amazingly rich in terms of their history, traditions, art, architecture, culture and natural beauty.

 

Tremosine in Lombardy (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

Tremosine in Lombardy (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

From the north to the south and east to west, each of the participating borghi (small villages) interprets Romantic Night in a unique way befitting the character of its setting and citizenry. Illuminated by candlelight and fireworks, scheduled events often center around film, dance, music, theater, concerts, playful competitions and more—all themed around love and romance. There are also organized mini-events geared to singles and those looking for love.

However, two traditions, intended to unify the villages and bring them together, are adhered to by all the participating villages:

1- Each year, one chef is chosen to create a special dessert recipe that is shared with all the other villages. That recipe is then prepared in each of the village’s restaurants on Romantic Night. This year, Michelin-star Chef Donato Episcopo of Villa Abbazzio in Follina (a beautiful village in the region of Veneto) created an appropriately named dessert, Pensiero d’amore (love thought).

Chef Episcopo's Pensiero d’amore (Credit: Mauro Milan)

Chef Episcopo’s Pensiero d’amore (Credit: Mauro Milan)

2- At midnight, everyone participates in the tradition of the “midnight kiss,” at which time 1000 balloons are launched into the sky culminating a special evening.

Lovers in Lugnano n Teverina, Umbria (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

Lovers in Lugnano n Teverina, Umbria (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

A special opportunity for tourists

This year, events similar to the Romantic Night will simultaneously take place in Spain (Los Pueblo Mas Bonitos de Espana), France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France), and Wallonie, Belgium (Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonia). The organizers hope that the Romantic Night will one day embrace all European countries.

Tourists traveling to Italy (or one of the other participating countries) during this period of time will have a unique opportunity to enjoy these small-town festivities and interact with locals while enjoying new foods and sharing new customs.

The Association website lists each of the small villages in Italy that will be participating in Romantic Night this year.

A bucket list for Italophiles

Celebrating small villages in Italy

Celebrating Small Villages in Italy (Credit: I Borghi più belli d’Italia)

Is your curiosity piqued to see these charming small towns with stone walls, cobblestones streets, castles, villas, true farm-to-table restaurants, farms, craftspeople, wineries and sweeping views of the countryside? Places that have been preserved or restored since the Middle Ages or the Renaissance?

Those who can’t arrange travel to Italy in June to coincide with this once-a-year event may want to plan a trip that takes them to one or more of these beautiful villages that are waiting to be explored throughout the year. Organized by regions, the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy website describes every village and provides links for further information.

My recent article on Forbes.com describes five of the small villages we have personally visited (Montefalco (Perugia), Dozza (Emilia Romagna), Locorotondo (Puglia), Montaione (Tuscany) and San Leo (Emilia Romagna) and, hopefully, offers a sense of how much they have to offer.


Watch the Association’s video on YouTube to get a feel for the ambiance of these borghi:


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La Notte Romantica

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    June 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Oh my. Could a romantic celebration even be more charming? Whatever kind of Brexit, the UK does (or, hopefully, doesn’t do), I hope they’ll join this movement. The summer solstice definitely deserves some type of acknowledgement, especially in those places that have long, dark winters. Finland?

  • Reply
    Carol Colborn
    June 18, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Wow a night to compete with the traditional Feb 14! 294 most beautiful borghi participating with balloons set free at midnight. I should schedule this for us!!!

  • Reply
    Jade
    June 19, 2019 at 2:04 am

    This looks so charming! What a wonderful experience! I’d love to witness it in person some day.

  • Reply
    Lori
    June 19, 2019 at 11:03 am

    We’ve only read about this and have never been in Italy at the right time. Off the beaten path towns away from the over touristed destinations really makes the event sound special. We’ll add the list of villages to our future trips. Thank you for this article.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 19, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Lori,

      Do check out the Association website because they sponsor other equally interesting events in the villages throughout the year~

      Best, Irene

  • Reply
    Kemkem
    June 20, 2019 at 11:47 am

    I used to love notte bianca in Rome whenever we visited my husband’s family (the whole city decorated with gazillions of white balloons) but they no longer do it. Not feeling too badly about it since knowing that balloons are not good for the environment. It’s nice that there is a notte romantico being practiced in Italy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Irene S. Levine
    Reply
    Irene S. Levine
    June 20, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    There is also a “pink night” in Rimini! Colored nights are another interesting type of festivity!.

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    June 21, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    I love the “midnight kiss” and balloon launch for Italy’s Romantic Night, which is tomorrow night! Also, all the hearts throughout the images in your post. Coincidentally, I just updated my LOVE + Heart Sculptures photo gallery. You might enjoy viewing it, https://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/Photo-Galleries/LOVE-HEARTsculptures/love-heartsculptures.html

  • Reply
    Jackie K Smith
    June 22, 2019 at 7:33 am

    How perfect to be only hours away from The Most Romantic Night of the Year and be reading this post (while sweltering on what is promising to be the Hottest Night of the Year in Greece – and that is hot as in weather, not romance!) and to see mention of one of our favorite Italian villages, Folina, and its magical Villa Abazzio. . .such incredible memories of our stay there. The villa and the village still rate as among our favorite stays anywhere. A most interesting post, Irene!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      June 22, 2019 at 9:37 pm

      Don’t fret. I heard that southern Italy is also experiencing a heat wave:-)

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