By Ana Connery
Whether you prefer to stroll historic cobblestone streets, powder-white beaches or rolling vineyards, the following are five of the most romantic destinations for celebrating love.
In Tuscany’s remote Serchio Valley, couples can explore medieval villages and travel within one or two hours of well-known destinations such as Florence, Pisa and Cinque Terre.
Best for: Foodies and history buffs.
Stay: At Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, a private chef takes you to a market to pick ingredients for a menu you design yourself. A cooking lesson and a romantic meal enjoyed overlooking the Apuan Alps follows. ilcioccoresort.com
Play: The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a short drive away, as are some of Tuscany’s most famous landmarks, including Verrucole Castle and Museo Casa Pascoli. There are also several biodynamic wineries, such as Podere Còncori, where visitors can stomp on grapes during the harvest season. podereconcori.com
Eat: Truffle hunting is offered at Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa just 15 minutes outside Florence. The property’s park offers hidden spots for picnics and Champagne toasts with views of the awe-inspiring Duomo. salviatino.com
Travel Tip: Don’t miss a visit to the hilltop town of Barga, with its cobbled lanes, steep stairwells and 12th-century cathedral.
Colonial architecture, sprawling pineapple plantations and pink-sand beaches set the stage for experiencing the tranquil, sophisticated spirit of this Bahamian island. Only 1 mile wide and 90 miles long, Eleuthera is home to one of the most picturesque harbors in the world, Cupid’s Cay.
Best for: Island romance.
Stay: French Leave Resort is home to gorgeous seafront cottages, each with British-colonial interiors. Spend the day by the freshwater pool, set sail from two megayacht slips, and dine in one of the island’s best restaurants, 1648 Bar & Grille. frenchleaveeleuthera.com
Play: Adventurous travelers will want to go scuba diving, while those looking for a more laid-back experience can opt for horseback riding on the beach or kayaking in quiet coves.
Eat: Island specialties include cracked conch and succulent Bahamian lobster, which locals call crawfish. Sample them at Buccaneer Club, a mid-19th-century farmhouse-turned-restaurant surrounded by fragrant bougainvillea, hibiscus and coconut palms.
Travel Tip: Stroll through Governor’s Harbour, one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas, which has an abundance of shops and cafés. Visit on a Friday evening to join locals for the weekly fish fry.
Colorful Cusco and its surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas is ideal for travelers looking for a rich dose of culture. Bounded by mountains, rivers and forests, the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with romantic Old World architecture, historic sites and bustling streets.
Best for: A cultural immersion.
Stay: The JW Marriott El Convento Cusco is a 16th-century convent-turned-hotel and a designated national landmark where original Inca and colonial walls have been preserved. Marvel at the Andean tradition of textile weaving in the open courtyard, where artisans provide demonstrations. jwmarriottcusco.com
Play: A short train ride from the city center is the entrance to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, perched atop a mountain shrouded by a
Eat: For a culinary feast, enter the fantasy world of Fallen Angel, tucked away on the swanky Plaza Nazarenas. Chicha is another trendy spot known for its delicious rocoto relleno (Peruvian stuffed peppers) and pisco sours. fallenangelincusco.com; chicha.com.pe
Travel Tip: Head to Plaza de Armas, a massive square flanked by two 16th-century churches, to enjoy Peruvian music, dancing, shopping, dining and plenty of people-watching.
Clearwater Beach, Florida
For a quick romantic jaunt, head to Clearwater Beach, which lands on a multitude of “best beaches” lists every year. It’s easy to see why, given the incredibly clear water that gives the town its name and the dreamy Gulf of Mexico sunsets.
Best for: A weekend getaway.
Stay: Each guest room at Opal Sands Resort, a new luxury property perched on a rocky cliff (a rare occurrence in Florida), commands amazing water views from a private balcony. Lounge with a cocktail in hand on the sun deck next to the zero-entry pool, or take a self-guided tour of the resort’s incredible art collection. opalsands.com
Play: Join a cigar factory tour in Tampa’s Ybor City; visit the Salvador Dalí Museum across from the harbor in downtown St. Petersburg; or go parasailing over
Eat: Frenchy’s is a family-owned institution known for its frozen concoctions, fresh grouper tacos and beach views. frenchysonline.com
Travel Tip: Make sure you’re on the beach at sunset, when dolphins are often spotted close to shore.