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The Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (and where to go to relive them)

With February 14th just around the corner, a hot topic in the office has been our favourite couples of all time. And while some of the more modern twosomes came up (Bella and Edward, anyone?) the general consensus was that nothing beats the classics. Look back at these duos and see where you can go to recreate their magic this Valentine’s…

veniceRomeo & Juliet

Salt and pepper. Mickey and Minnie. Posh and Becks. Some things are just meant to be together. And Romeo and Juliet are a prime example. Shakespeare’s most famous play tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers with warring families, who eventually make the ultimate sacrifice. Forbidden love and long, romantic spiels – it’s got all the ingredients for a classic weepy, which is why it’s etched in our minds as the world’s greatest love story.

So, wherefore art thou meant to go to re-create the magic (if not the tragic ending)? Well, the tale is set in fair Verona, a beautiful city not far from Venice. Think narrow stone alleyways, terracotta rooftops and chiming clock towers. You can visit ‘Juliet’s balcony’ – one of the few sights dedicated to a fictitious character – and then write yours and your other half’s names on Juliet’s Wall – apparently it’ll make your love last forever.

Play at being star-crossed lovers at the aptly-named Hotel Milton Romantik in Lido di Jesolo – it’s within day-tripping distance of Verona. The hotel comes with a 4T rating, private beach, and a Secret Garden-esque pool scene.

casablancaRick Blaine & Ilsa Lund

With lines like ‘Kiss me. Kiss me as though it were the last time’, few films churn out iconic romantic quotes like 1940s’ classic, Casablanca. This love-fest tells the story of Rick Blaine, an American expat living in Morocco during the early years of World War II. After being abandoned in Paris by the love of his life, Isla, he lives a bitter, lonely existence. Until, that is, she walks into his Casablanca bar with her new husband…

We won’t spoil the ending, as the film is being re-released this February to celebrate its 70th anniversary – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Catch it on the big screen in all its glory, or, even better, see the place in Morocco that inspired it all. While you’re there, make sure you take your other half for a drink in Rick’s Café. Created by an American woman back in 2004, this beautiful piano bar features Casablanca memorabilia, a great menu and a soundtrack that includes classics from the movie. You’ll find it tucked inside the walls of the old medina.

Recreate Rick and Isla’s romance by joining our Western Discovery cruise, which calls in at Casablanca, Morocco.

aphroditeAphrodite & Ares

One of the best love stories from the age of Zeus is a tale of forbidden love. Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, was trapped in a loveless, unhappy marriage with Hepheastus, God of Craftsmanship. But Ares, God of War, was her true soulmate, and the two would regularly sneak off for trysts around Cyprus when hubby wasn’t around.

Visit Limassol over on the west coast of Aphrodite’s Isle and you can see the Petra Tou Romiou, or Rock of Aphrodite – thought to be the goddess’ birthplace. Legend says if you swim around the rock three times you’ll find true love. And if you do it by moonlight, you’ll never age – just like Aphrodite. If you can’t be bothered with all that, pack up a picnic and find your own secret hideaway among the island’s pine-cloaked hills.

Sneak off for an Aphrodite and Ares-style rendezvous at the 4T Hotel Atlantica Bay. This Limassol beauty looks out over the Mediterranean Sea, and has its own luxurious spa.

cleopatraMarc Anthony & Cleopatra

Unfortunately, this pair had a similar fate to that of Romeo & Juliet. Once upon a time, Cleopatra – the Queen of Egypt – fell in love with dashing Roman general, Marc Anthony. They lived happily together in Alexandria in Egypt until Octavian, a rival Roman, declared war against Marc. A battle broke out, and, after being wrongly told of Cleopatra’s suicide, the poor general fell on his own sword. He didn’t die straight away, though. Instead, he waited until he was back in his beloved’s arms to pop his clogs.The couple set up house in the city of Alexandria. But if you want something a little more peaceful, follow in their gladiator-sandaled footsteps down to the coast.

Re-enact Marc and Cleopatra’s affair at the Premier Le Reve Hotel & Spa in Sahl Hasheesh. This 5T hotel has five restaurants, a beachfront address and a no-children policy.

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