There are no firm figures immediately available, but unconfirmed reports would have us believe the price of red roses went up substantially this morning. Expensive chocolates were also in short supply and booking a late table for two became all but impossible.
The reason behind all this is the celebration of Valentine’s Day, the annual date reserved for true love and romance named after an obscure saint – some even argue that the name of two of them – which no authority can pinpoint, is his name and that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia, close to the Ponte Milvio, to the north of Rome on that day.
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished and flowers and gifts were exchanged.
The only concrete link with the Catholic church today remains Saint Valentine’s Church in Rome, built in 1960 for the needs of the Olympic Village, which continues as a modern, well-visited parish church.
Sufficient to say, the Valentine we recognise might well be a legend, but it is one that has endured. Pass the pink Champagne, please.