TerniImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Officials in Terni say they want to find another romantic city to pair with

The Italian birthplace of Saint Valentine is looking for a “romantic” new sister city in the US.

Officials in Terni, in the Umbrian hills, told the BBC that they already have twin cities elsewhere in Europe.

“But we have never had a sister city in the US, so we thought, why not see if we can build a relationship,” Omero Mariani, Terni’s head of tourism, said.

US cities will be able to apply from 14 February, and the winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day next year.

The city is working with translation app company, Babbel, on the project and has invited its US-based CEO to be on the judging panel, alongside the Mayor of Terni, Leonardo Latini.

Mr Mariani told the BBC that their future partner doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic – they just need to show they have something in common with Terni. A nearby waterfall, for example, would be similar to Terni’s Marmore Falls.

But either way, he hopes more people will link Valentine’s Day to Terni.

Image copyright

Image caption

The tomb of Saint Valentine is in the Basilica di San Valentino in Terni

“Every year the whole world celebrates Valentine’s Day, but nobody is linking Valentine to his hometown Terni,” he said.

Saint Valentine, it is believed, was a third century priest who became the Bishop of Terni at the age of 21.

He was known for secretly conducting marriages that had been banned by the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who is said to have claimed that married men made poor soldiers.

Valentine is said to have been martyred in Rome on 14 February, 273 AD, and his relics are now kept in Terni’s Basilica San Valentino.

Mr Mariani said the city holds a month-long festival every year around Valentine’s Day, and that they are expecting about 100,000 people to attend this year.

“Every year, cities across Italy claim they are the most romantic, or that they are the city of love,” he said. “But actually, Terni is the real deal – it is the birthplace of Saint Valentine.”