Padlocks Of Love Removed From Bridge In Rome

Officials in Rome have removed the so-called “padlocks of love” from the famous Ponte Milvio, the BBC reports. This is the latest phase of an ongoing struggle between the city and romantic couples that we’ve been reporting on since 2007.

It all started when Italian novelist Frederico Moccia wrote “I Want You,” in which a couple put a bicycle lock around the bridge’s lamppost and tossed the key into the Tiber as a symbol of their undying love. It soon became a fad and the locks became so heavy they actually broke the lamppost. After that people started putting locks all over the bridge.

The bridge was built over the Tiber River in 115 B.C. and was the site of the famous Battle of Milvian Bridge, in which the Emperor Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius to take over Rome, a move that was the beginning of the end of paganism.

Officials say rust from the locks is damaging the historic bridge. Putting a lock on the bridge carries a 50 euro ($51) fine. This is the second time the city has removed the locks. It probably won’t be the last.

Putting locks on landmarks has become a trend in other spots as well. Near where I live in Santander, northern Spain, couples do this on a railing by a cliff overlooking the sea. Is there a similar custom in your local area? Tell us in the comments section!

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Survey Shows Travelers’ Top Dream Destinations And Experiences

Do you ever wonder how your travel dreams compare to those of others? To help find out where people most desire to travel to, Virtuoso Life Magazine conducted a “Travel Dreams” survey, polling over 5,000 people between January 5 to March 31, 2012. Some of their findings include:

Top Dream Destinations:

1. Australia
2. Italy
3. New Zealand
4. South Africa
5. French Polynesia

Top Trips Of A Lifetime:

1. Setting sail for a world cruise
2. Calling on all seven continents
3. Sailing the Mediterranean on a private yacht
4. Visiting all Seven New Wonders of the World
5. Photographing “the big five” on an African safariMost Wanted Island Escapes:

1. Hawaiian Islands
2. Greek Islands
3. Galapagos Islands
4. Fiji
5. French Polynesia

River Cruises That Capture Your Imagination:

1. French wine country canal
2. Danube
3. Amazon
4. Nile
5. Rhine

Most Romantic Cities:

1. Paris
2. Venice
3. Santorini
4. Rome
5. New York City

Top Family Getaways:

1. Hawaiian Islands
2. Italy
3. Caribbean
4. Galapagos Islands
5. Alaska

What’s your dream travel experience?

Study Shows Travel Can Increase Your Sex Appeal

According to a study done by Intrepid Travel using the online dating site, people who travel a lot are seen as more attractive than their non-traveling counterparts. The study found that daring travelers are seen as the sexiest, while 23 percent say adrenaline seekers make their heart race. Moreover, off-the-beaten-path travelers were most attractive to 22 percent, while culture buffs got 16 percent of the votes.

Says Intrepid spokeswoman Jo Stewart, “The attitudes of singles show that a bi-product of travel is that it adds to your sex appeal.”

The study also looked at the behavior of single travelers. Data showed that 96 percent of singles who were passionate about traveling, were also looking for a partner with the same interests. Many single travelers – 72 percent – also dream of meeting someone special on their trips. Ever fantasized about a romantic picnic in Tuscany? Twenty-six percent responded this was their perfect first date, with a sentimental stroll in Paris being their second.

[image via permanently scatterbrained]

The couple’s guide to Valentine’s Day hotel packages

It’s always fun to do something a little special for Valentine’s Day, and staying at a luxury hotel can definitely add an air of romance to the occasion. And because we know every couple has a different idea of romance, here is a guide based on your “couple personality” to help you decide where to spend this Valentine’s Day.

Nature-loving couples

Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Amelia Island, Florida

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, is a romantic hotel in general, with ambient restaurants and activities for couples like cooking classes, bike tours, wine tastings, and picturesque hikes. There is also a nightly “Beach Lovers Fire by the Dunes” where couples can snuggle with blankets, hot cocoa, and binoculars for star-gazing in front of a beach bonfire. For Valentine’s Day, couples can opt for the “Romance Package”, which includes accommodations, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries upon arrival, breakfast for two, a rose-petal turndown service, free parking, and late check-out. Rates begin at $379 per night. Call 904-277-1100 to book.Couples who love food and wine

Geneva on the Lake
Finger Lakes, New York

Geneva on the Lake is situated in the perfect location for those who love celebrating with delicious cuisine and free-flowing vino. The area is home to culinary trails, farm-to-table dining experiences, and over one hundred vineyards. During the month of Valentine’s Day, Geneva on the Lake is helping to enhance the wining and dining experience even further with a “Romantic Valentine’s Celebration” package, which includes accommodation in a suite that overlooks Seneca Lake and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, two elegant wine glasses, chocolates, a full breakfast, a bottle of locally produced wine or Fuji apple juice, a candlelit four-course dinner with live music, and, if you stay on a Friday, a wine and cheese reception. Rates begin at $330 per night. Call 800-343-6382 to book.

Eco-conscious couples

Shore Hotel
Santa Monica, California

The Shore Hotel is an environmentally-friendly, luxury property right on the beach. They are LEED-registered, use local materials for building as much as possible, and recycled 50% of their construction waste, among other initiatives. During the entire month of February, the property is offering a “Pink Goes Green” package that includes accommodations, two bicycle rentals to use for your entire stay, a 60-minute couples massage at Tikkun Spa, a bottle of organic champagne or wine, and a $50 credit to The Lobster Restaurant, the on-site seafood eatery. Rates for the package start at $469 per night. Call 310-458-1515 to book.

Couples who love public displays of affection

Affinia Hotels
New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

Affinia Hotels, a boutique hotel chain with multiple properties in New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C., is offering a “Kiss & Tell” package from now all the way until December 31, 2012. The package includes accommodations with upgrades (if available), a list of each city’s most romantic kissing spots, Affinia signature “Kiss Me” mints, a “Kisses Goodnight” turndown service that includes Hershey’s kisses, and a split of champagne. To make the package more fun, the hotel is asking couples to take kissing photos around the cities and post them to the Affinia Facebook page and the Affinia Twitter account. Prices start at $139 per night in New York and Washington D.C. and $149 a night in Chicago. Call 866-246-2203 and say the word “KISS” to book.

Wedding-obsessed couples

The Pop-Up Wedding Chapel at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada

Whether you’re looking to get married for the first time, renew your vows, or just trying it out for a day or two, The Pop-Up Wedding Chapel at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas offers a variety of wedding-inspired packages. Each includes a 20-minute ceremony, Molla Space eraser rings, and Sofia Coppola champagne poppers. Note that all packages are faux until you add a $150 legal binding fee.

For those who are looking to quickly seal the deal, there is the “Hitched in a Hurry Package” ($80), which includes the wedding ceremony, a photo booth photo, and a gift bag. Couples looking to get a little more out of the experience can opt for the “On a Whim Package” ($125), which will give you the wedding ceremony, a silk flower bouquet, two photo booth photos, six cans of champagne, party favors, a t-shirt, two cake tops, and a gift bag. And, for those couples who want to really go all out, there is the “Going to the Chapel Package” ($195), which includes the wedding ceremony, silk flower bouquet, a bottle of Sofia Coppola Champagne (swanky!), two photo booth photos, party favors, six cake tops, two t-shirts, Marquee Hotel nightclub guest list access for four people, and a gift bag. Call 702-698-7640 to book.

Couples with sex on the brain

Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa
Miami Beach, Florida

Let’s be honest; for most couples, romance isn’t just about chocolates and tropical sunsets. And because Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa understands this, they’re hosting a “Sensuality & Sexuality” week from February 13-18, 2012. Not only will you be able to relax on the beach with your partner, you’ll also be able to learn how to heat things up in the bedroom (don’t worry if you’re single, as there are solo tips, as well). Some of the classes guests can partake in include:

  • Get in Touch with Yourself- Learn how to bring back and ignite sexual passion and vitality
  • Swap the Blue Pills for Dumbbells- Learn how to use exercise to increase sexual performance
  • Position Yourself- Couples will learn strengthening exercises that will not only work your muscles but also help you achieve unique and pleasurable sex positions
  • Keep It Up (for men)- Dr. McGee gives the men insight into how things like nutrition, relationships, stress, exercise, and everyday activities can affect sexual performance
  • Forty Beads Talk with Carolyn Evans (for women)- The ladies will learn a new method that will help transform their relationships

Rooms start at $605 a night. Call 800-742-9000 to book.

Rustic and adventurous couples

Blackberry Farm
Walland, Tennessee

Blackberry Farm is a luxury resort housed in a renovated farmhouse situated in the hills of the Smoky Mountains. From February 10-14, 2012, the property is hosting an array of romantic activities, some of which include a romantic confections baking demo, horse-drawn carriage rides, aphrodisiac tasting menus, spa treatments for couples, private fly fishing lessons, and adventure sports like kayaking and white water rafting. Rates start at $695 which includes all meals. Call 865-984-8166 to book.

Snow bunny couples

L’Auberge de Sedona
Sedona, Arizona

L’Auberge de Sedona is a luxury property situated on Oak Creek as well as in the midst of picturesque red-rock mountains. Through March 15, 2012, the property is offering couples a chance to experience the natural beauty of the area by hitting the slopes with their “Snowmance” package, which includes two-nights accommodation in either a guest room or fireplace and private patio-equipped luxury cottage, ski lift tickets to Flagstaff Snowbowl for each day booked, and a $75 credit to use for food and drinks or the spa. Prices start at $265 for a guest room and $320 for cottage. Call 928-282-1661 to book.

High-roller couples

Fairmont Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

For couples that like to live life in the fast lane, a stay at Fairmont Chicago will give them the chance to spend this Valentine’s Day lavishing in expensive tastes. From February 10-14, 2012, the property is offering a $100,000 “Romantic Getaway Package”, which includes your own butler throughout the stay as well as a Presidential Suite featuring a rose petal trail from the foyer to a bed of six dozen red roses. The package also includes a $10,000 gift card to Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago that will give sweethearts access to their exclusive Fifth Avenue Club, allowing for personalized shopping, doting slaes attendents, and the ability to shop during non-regular hours. And if you’re not feeling like a baller already, you will also receive a Marshall Pierce & Company 18 karat white diamond and sapphire necklace. Back at the resort, the high rolling continues with a lavendar and rose petal-filled bath for two, strawberries, Cristal Champagne, a ninety minute in-room couples’ massage, breakfast in bed each morning, as well as two fine dining experiences, one being a Chef’s Table-for-Two at the on-site Aria and the other being at your choice of hotel in Chicago. Call 312-565-8000 to book.

Couples who can’t get enough chocolate

Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead
Atlanta, Georgia

From February 1 up until Valentine’s Day, the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, is offering a Valentine’s Day package that includes accommodations, breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, chocolate, champagne, a rose-petal turndown service, and overnight valet parking. Along with this, there is a calendar of chocolate-inspired activities for couples. Some sweet selections to expect include a Chocolate Afternoon Tea ceremony ($34), a chocolate desert-ladden brunch ($59), chocolate and wine pairing sessions (included), candy making classes ($125 per couple), and 50-minute chocolate spa treatments ($155-$290). Prices begin at $299 per night and the chocolate activities can be purchased a la carte. Call 404-237-2700 to book.

Five steps to a romantic New Hampshire getaway

Put the stress and pressure of the workday behind you. This is exactly what was on my mind a few weeks ago. I needed to get away from the daily grind for a bit, and the back roads of New England were calling. I wanted something quiet, remote and relaxing. New Hampshire came to mind immediately.

It had been a while since my last trip to New Hampshire – close to 20 years since my last visit to the White Mountains. So, I had to reacquaint myself with the local options. In the process of doing so, I found five crucial steps to planning a great romantic getaway to the Granite State.

When you’re planning your long weekend (or longer) in New Hampshire (or western Massachusetts, Vermont or Maine), keep the following in mind:

1. Invest some time in picking the right room: for me, this was probably the most important part of planning my getaway. I wanted to find an inn (not a bed and breakfast or a hotel) that had a fireplace and an in-room Jacuzzi. I wouldn’t compromise on these criteria … and I wanted them at less than $200 a night (all in). Since the New England Inns and Resorts Association website allows you to search member properties based on these elements, that’s where I went to do my homework and book, finding the Christmas Farm Inn, in Jackson, NH. It wound up being exactly what I was looking form.

2. Remember the New Hampshire state liquor stores: wine is not expensive! The state liquor stores have a wide selection of wines, and they’re a bit cheaper (in most cases) than they are in nearby Boston and not-so-nearby New York. Pick up a few bottles, depending on the length of your stay, for in-room enjoyment. Think about it: (a) wine by the fireplace, (b) wine in the Jacuzzi, (c) wine on the deck and (d) wine in bed. This really is a no-brainer.

3. Get a sense of the cuisine ahead of time: if you’re visiting northern New Hampshire from a city, be ready for some differences. The restaurants close a lot earlier, especially off season. So, hitting the local restaurant at 10:30 PM just isn’t an option – you’ll starve! Plan to eat earlier dinners, leaving more time for chilled wine in the Jacuzzi back at your room (there’s an upside to everything). While there are some interesting options in the area (such as Wine Thyme in North Conway, NH), upscale alternatives aren’t as common as they are in New York or Boston. Be ready to de-prioritize culinary and focus on the “romantic” part of “romantic getaway.”

4. Fight the urge to stay in your room: the whole point of a romantic getaway is to enjoy the person you’re with … which sometimes leads to longer mornings in bed and the temptation not to wander too far from the room (hint, hint). Keep the spirit without becoming a hermit by packing a lunch and a bottle of wine before heading over to Rocky Gorge in White Mountain National Forest. Sit on the rocks as the river rushes by, and sip on a glass of Pinot Noir if the air is crisp (Gruener if it isn’t). Circle the nearby lake for a bit of privacy; the trail is easy to walk and won’t draw as much traffic as Rocky Gorge.

5. Take in a sunset: for a fantastic sunset, head over to Cathedral Ledge. It isn’t far from the Conway, NH area, so you won’t lose much time to the drive. In summer, the later sunset might leave you scrambling to find dinner afterward, so choose a restaurant that’s nearby to make sure you aren’t scrounging after enjoying a bit of natural beauty.