Photo: Corbis

#12 (of 25)     NEXT >>

What you owe her is a week with you—and only you—in Santorini. Since ancient times, no adjective has been left behind in an attempt to describe the special quality of the light there: Pure. Delicate. Spiritual. And, of course, romantic. The island is a cliff-girt volcanic remnant whose sea-flooded crater, or caldera, was dug out by an explosion so powerful that it may have been the source of the Atlantis myth. Now the formation acts as a natural canvas on which every hue and shade is painted.

You want this to be perfect, so spring for one of the new suites at Astra, a whitewashed hotel that spills over the lip of the caldera, in the quiet cliffside village of Imerovigli. Its only drawback—as your wife gazes out at the sea from your private infinity pool, perhaps filtering the afternoon light through a glass of crisp, dry Nichteri—is that she may not want to leave the room.

Persuade her: Santorini’s real romance is in its walks. Stroll along the caldera’s edge to the village of Oia, whose perch on the cliffs at the western tip of the island makes for memorable sunsets—all the better when seen from atop the ruins of Oia’s sixteenth-century castle. Next, wander down to Captain Dimitri’s, the last taverna along the waterfront in the port of Ammoudi, and arrive, ideally, just as they’re putting a fresh round of octopus on the charcoal grill. Window-shop along the jewelry-store-lined maze of pedestrian passageways in the village of Fira, stopping in Franco’s Bar at sunset for an ouzo and more picture-postcard views. Don’t eat, though. Save yourselves for dinner on the water at Katina, where the owners cook up their own catch (calamari, mussels, swordfish) on a wood-charcoal grill, or, for a more gourmet meal, by candlelight (lamb with eggplant purée, tomato fritters, sweet-cheese pastry with honey) at Selene, the island’s most romantic restaurant.

No matter what month her birthday falls in, book your trip for May, June, or September, when the weather is best, the noisy-all-night revelers of July and August are crowding some other city, and the light—that light—is perfect.

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Astra (30-22860-23641,; from $209); Captain Dimitri’s Taverna (30-22860-82210); Katina (30-22860-71280); Selene (30-22860-22249).