Kaid Benfield, Sustainable Cities and Smart Growth Director for the NRDC, answers this question in his annual Valentine's Day must-read post on the intersection of smart, sustainable urbanism, livable streets, and romance:
Prague. Venice. Rome. Paris. These are some destinations that perennially make "ten-most-romantic cities” lists. I just looked at three such sites, and all four cities were consensus picks. Vienna and Lisbon each made two of the lists.
What are some of the things they have in common?
- Strong sense of place anchored by historic preservation
- Lively, walkable, diverse downtowns
- Compact development patterns
- Extensive and well-used public transportation
- Great public spaces for lively human interaction
- Parks and quiet places mixed in with urbanity
- Great traditional neighborhoods with a strong sense of community
- Welcoming to people of diverse cultures
On this most romantic (or most Hallmark, at least) of days, it's interesting to note that we love—and fall in love in—cities that engender all the main elements of smart, sustainable urbanism.