04/16/2012 08:05 am ET Updated Aug 27, 2012

Alternatives To Italy's Romance Hotspots

Romance runs rich through Italy’s veins, with icons of amore to melt the hardest heart. But the most famous sight isn’t always the most swoon-worthy; find the real romance of Italy with a hot date at one of these alternative picks.

Romance icon: Juliet’s balcony. The dainty stone balcony at the 14th-century Casa di Giulietta is a magnet for lovers (and Shakespeare fans). Visiting romantics scrawl heart-rending graffiti in the charming courtyard and smooch on the balcony with their own Romeos. It’s all rather lovely, which means tourists generally remain untroubled by the lack of any connection between the fictional lovers and the Veronese noblemen who actually lived here.

The alternative: the Roman arena by night. If literature’s star-crossed lovers don’t inspire, spend a balmy evening at Verona’s 1st-century Roman amphitheatre. Find a space for two on the steep stone steps, and the evening is yours to sip wine, be dazzled by on-stage theatrics, and gaze at a starry sky. Take snacks, a blanket and most essentially, a pillow (those stone steps have seriously bum-numbing qualities). Thrifty lovers can snap up tickets for summer operas and ballets from as little as EUR10.

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