Postcards from Italy

Who Was St. Valentine? (and Why Italian Chocolate is the Way to Celebrate…)

Patron saint of lovers (also of epileptics and beekeepers), St. Valentine is a surprisingly enigmatic figure given the hugely popular holiday dedicated to his name. Though the Catholic church removed the saint from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 because there was simply not enough verifiable information about his life, Valentine is arguably the most celebrated saint in the world after, of course, jolly old Saint Nick.

The most common account is that Valentine was a priest (or, perhaps, the Bishop of the Umbrian city of Terni) in the late third century AD. The Roman Empire was ruled by Claudius II Gothicus during this time—also called Claudius the Cruel—who spent most of his reign orchestrating bloody military campaigns. His insatiable demand for new military recruits led to an edict outlawing marriage for young men, who would be more willing to serve in the imperial army without domestic ties. 

Enter Valentine (or Valentinus), who defied the Emperor’s decree and continued to officiate weddings in secret until he was discovered and executed by clubbing and beheading. While awaiting his execution, he is said to have befriended the prison warden’s daughter (and, according to some tellings, healed her blindness); he signed his final letter to her “from your Valentine”, a salutation that is familiar to romantics still today. He was put to death in mid-February and may have been buried on the Via Flaminia, where Pope Julius I later built a basilica. Relics of the saint are still visible in the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (famous for the “Bocca della Verità”, or Mouth of Truth) in Rome and in the cathedral in Terni.

Though the true history of St. Valentine is a mystery, the legend surrounding his life has enough elements of heroism and romance to spawn growing popularity from the Middle Ages until today. Often maligned as a “Hallmark holiday”, in truth the day has been marked by lovers since at least the 14th century, when Chaucer penned the lines “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”  in his poem “Parliament of Foules”.

Given St. Valentine’s Italian roots, there’s no better way to celebrate than with sweets from Italy (aside from, of course, a trip to Il Bel Paese itself). We’ve brought back our popular Collezione San Valentino, a bounty of artisanal chocolate shipped straight from Tuscany that will satisfy your chocoholic sweetheart. Made by the premier chocolatiers La Molina based in the small town of Quarrata just outside Pistoia, these luxury chocolates satisfy both the eyes and palate with their striking packaging and unparalleled quality.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Collezione San Valentino Italian Chocolate Gift Box

Collezione San Valentino

Heart-shaped Belgian-style pralines: Make your sweetheart smile with nine heavenly pralines, including three blond chocolate filled with salted caramel (3), three dark chocolate filled with mocha gianduja, and three ruby chocolate filled with raspberry.

Molisnack mini chocolate bars: Eight different flavors to please all palates in this package of 24 bite-size bars, including three each of dark chocolate gianduja with hazelnuts, milk chocolate gianduja with hazelnuts, salted gianduja with hazelnuts, white gianduja, pistachio chocolate, raspberry and white gianduja, and milk chocolate gianduja with salted almonds and peanuts.

Vintage-style cocoa tin: Warm up on a brisk winter evening with pure unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder (350 grams) packaged in an elegant tin for gourmet hot chocolate.

Classic dragées with a contemporary twist: A rich update on a timeless favorite, these certified Piedmont hazelnuts are covered in blond chocolate for 350 grams of heaven.

“I Love You”, “Love Flowers”, and “Love Child” Napolitains: These chic boxes of 12 napolitains each are a showcase for both La Molina’s sleek packaging and unbeatable quality. Bring some sugar to your honey’s coffee break with a mix of milk chocolate and cinnamon squares (I Love You), dark chocolate and vanilla squares (Love Flowers), and blonde chocolate squares (Love Child).

“I Love You” gianduia spread: If your boo turns up their nose at Nutella, they need to try this delectable gourmet hazelnut spread that cuts the sugar and boosts the fine cocoa and hazelnuts to new heights of flavor.

Order Your Valentine’s Day Italian Chocolate Gift Box

Order our select La Molina chocolates in a beautiful San Valentino gift box! Place your order by Sunday, February 6th and you can have this heavenly surprise delivered directly to you by Valentine’s Day. Just visit our dedicated page here to order online: Collezione San Valentino

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