In the footsteps of history's most famous lovers along a 2000-year-old road, the Via Flaminia is a trip that never gets old.

The Catacombs of Saint Valentine

Under the Via Flaminia leading out of Rome is an unassuming door. What could be a drab maintenance hatch it is given away only by a cruciform siglia marked on the outside.

Once a year this door is opened – conveniently on the 14th of February – to reveal the catacombs of St Valentine. Be sure to bring a date. You certainly don't want to go alone, it's a little creepy down there.

Catacombs under the Via Flaminia, Rome. Photo / Getty Images
Catacombs under the Via Flaminia, Rome. Photo / Getty Images

Excavated in the third century AD, it holds the remains of early Christians - including the remains of the man himself: Saint Valentino of Rome.

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Arguably the world's most famous saint, this underground necropolis will help earth the legend that surrounds the martyr.

A visit to the Roman remains is certainly more memorable than a box of chocolates.

Ponte Milvio

The Feast of Saint Valentine on February 14 has been observed at the Ponte Milivio since 496 AD.

Federico Moccia's book is damaging Rome's Milvio Bridge. Photo / Getty Images
Federico Moccia's book is damaging Rome's Milvio Bridge. Photo / Getty Images

At this point, where the Via crosses the Tiber, might be Rome's most romantic bridge.

In 2006, the bridge spawned another romantic tradition as the focus of the book I Want You ('Ho Voglia di Te/Tengo ganas de ti') by Italian author Federico Moccia.

Couples have taken to clamping padlocks onto the bridge's lamp posts as an iron-clad commitment to their love.

Love-locks: Ponte Milvio, Roma. Photo / Getty Images
Love-locks: Ponte Milvio, Roma. Photo / Getty Images

One lot of people who weren't in love with the idea was Rome's city council. They started charging €50 ($84) fines to sappy teens in 2007, after one of the bridge's metal lamps fell off.

Via Flaminia

What could be more fitting than a stroll through the Italian countryside, perhaps with a picnic in tow?

All roads lead to Rome: Via Flaminia in the footsteps of St. Valentine. Photo / Getty Images
All roads lead to Rome: Via Flaminia in the footsteps of St. Valentine. Photo / Getty Images

The hundred kilometres of Umbrian landscape between Terni and Rome are peppered by ancient remains and more Carpe Diem per square inch than an off-Broadway staging of The Dead Poets Society.

While you wouldn't want to cover the whole thing in a day, the remains at Carsulae or the archaeological park at Otricoli on the Tiber are great day trips. You can almost feel the sandaled legions marching the route along its 2240-year-old remains.

Carpe diem: The remains of Carsulae's twin temples, outside Terni. Photo / Getty Images
Carpe diem: The remains of Carsulae's twin temples, outside Terni. Photo / Getty Images

Archaeologists now believe there might have been two St Valentines, one in Rome and another in Terni.

Two martyrs sharing the same name would go some way to explain Valentine's prolific fame. You would need at least two to explain the number of basilica and churches along 'the via' claiming to hold part of the dead saint.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Of the more famous and scenic of churches claiming to hold part of the saint is the Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

Cosmedin: The Basilica's Romanesque tower. Photo / Getty Images
Cosmedin: The Basilica's Romanesque tower. Photo / Getty Images

The skull of Saint Valentine sits in the church under a wreath of flowers, giving the area its name "kosmidion", from the ancient Greek for adorned. Valentine is no looker, and a crown of roses does nothing to freshen up the 17-hundred-year-old saint.

The building, however, is beautiful. Its terracotta Romanesque tower with seven tiers is a marvel.

Perhaps the most famous addition to the basilica is its ancient Roman lie-detector.
La Bocca della Verità or the 'mouth of truth' is one of Rome's must-sees.

Lie detector: Bocca della Verita or The Mouth of Truth. Photo / Getty Images
Lie detector: Bocca della Verita or The Mouth of Truth. Photo / Getty Images

If you need to know your Valentine date's real opinion on something, simply place their hand in the open mouth. If they keep their fingers – you'll know you can trust it.

The legend of the statue that bites the fingers off lying children is best illustrated in the 1953 Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday.