Some six out of ten Italians will celebrate Valentine’s Day, with spending up around 14 euros on last year, said the survey by market-research institute IPSOS for retail group Confcommercio.

But higher prices will hit the dinner table as one out of five dinners will be prepared at home instead of eating out, a rise on last year, said the report.

More younger Italians (66 per cent of under 34s) than older ones (57 per cent of over 34s) will mark the feast.

Some 73 per cent of the 1000 consumers polled said they would be having romantic dinner while 61 per cent said they will be giving a present as token of their love.

Flowers are proving recession-proof in Italy as nearly 13 million bouquets and arrangements are expected to sell by the end of Wednesday, according to Italian farmers group Cia.

Despite the struggling economy, couples are still eager to buy flowers, mostly roses, with over 10 million expected to burst out of flower shops.

Bouquets are sure to be abundant throughout St Valentine’s birthplace at Terni in Umbria, where each year locals swear their undying love in the cathedral that houses the saint’s head.

Each year, couples also flock to the small Sardinian town of Sadali near Nuoro to ask the saint to look kindly on them and bless engagements.

The ritual has been going on for centuries in the town’s 15th-century church, only the second in Italy to be devoted to St Valentine.

In local dialect the saint is affectionately known as Su Coiadori (he who betrothes) and many of the couples expect their pilgrimage to bless their marriage (coias in dialect).

As well as saintly enterprises, Italy boasts other romantic rites for St Valentine’s Day.

The small southern town of Vico del Gargano, for instance, has a 300-year-old tradition of garlanding a lovers’ lane for couples to cuddle and exchange love’s promises.

Other places, like Leonardo da Vinci’s birthplace in Tuscany, have a more practical bent.

There, the council has turned their sports centre’s car park, popular with courting couples, into a Love Park with dim lighting and handy receptacles for litter left by love-making.