You've dreamed of going to Italy a million times and currently you're finally ready to see the monuments, the churches, the beautiful landscapes and, oh yes … the men! As beautiful as the country itself, the Italian man is a phenomenon in his own right! Here's what you'll need to know about him before embarking on your trip.
Aside from being typically not bad-looking and super charming, the Italian man loves public displays of affection, otherwise known as "PDA." He loves kissing, hugging, holding hands, caressing, touching … If you're a bit shy in this department, you can give it some slight hints like slowly pulling away or keeping you hands in your pockets, but you should know that he probably will not back down. This behavior is part of his culture so when in Rome … (you get the picture).
The Italian man loves to show off, and the only thing he loves showing off more than himself is his woman. Instead of taking this negatively ("arm candy" comes to mind) think of it as being special. After all, he would not be showing you off if he did not think you were the best think since gelato! So enjoy it!
When it comes to romance, the Italian brings home the gold! If you need a reminder, just watch "La Dolce Vita," or "Il Postino." The Italian man is a hopeless romantic who loves being in love and does not think twice before saying "I love you" ("Ti amo"). Here's a little scenario for you-You meet a handsome Italian while dining alfresco. He asks you to dinner the following night. You say yes. You wait anxiously for him at the restaurant. (I'm skipping how many envelopes you tried on before leaving your hotel.) He shows up (Thank God). After eating one of the best Italian meals EVER, you decide to take a stroll in the piazza (re-read the paragraph about showing off). You're happy, he's happy. He kisses you, you get all giddy. Then he stares into your eyes and whispers "You're so beautiful. I love you." WHAT ?! OK, stay calm. As much as you'd like to believe him, do not. Let's remember 3 things: (1) You're in Italy on vacation which means you do not really know this person; (2) You live and work on another continent-do I need to tell you he's not geographically desirable? and (3) You're too smart to fall for someone who just wants to get into your pants. Enough said.
Yes, Italian men will say just about anything in the middle of passion, but keep in mind this is just part of the dance they do. They do not actually expect you to believe every word they say but rather dance along with them. My advice is to just take everything they say with a grain of salt and enjoy the flirtation. Having said that, you may want to make sure your Italian prince does not have a princess waiting for him back at the castle. Since Italians do not always wear marriage bands, you may have to look for some signs to verify his status-where did not one find him? Has he been ignoring certain calls on his cell but taking other calls? Has he developed a nervous tic? Do you see feminine items such as make-up or traces of long hair in his car? Is there a tan line on his ring finger ??? If you can say yes to any of the above, abort mission. If you still think he's single and you're daydreaming about your marriage, you should know that Italian men do not typically give engagement rings as we know them here in the States. Based on the region they're from, they sometimes give a simple band or nothing at all until the day of the marriage. If that is not enough to discourage you, you're hopeless.
Whereas the American tendencies to over-analyze, the Italian follows his instincts. He lives in the moment and relishes an adventure. Fun, right? Yes, if you know him well, but if you do not (and you do not since you're on vacation), then you should exercise some caution. It's one thing if he invites you to an impromptu dinner at a restaurant near your hotel, and another thing if he invites you to his apartment where you'll be at his mercy if something goes wrong. Then again, you might be just fine at his apartment since most Italians live with their parents until they wed! But what if you want to engage in some "indoor sports?" Well, that's when the car comes into play. Seriously. You'll see plenty of parked cars with foggy windows and newspaper-covered windshields … Did I mention that Italian men are creative ?!
One of my favorite hits about the Italian man is his fashion sense. Whether he's dressed up or dressed down, he always looks dashing. He does not wear sneakers in lieu of shoes and he does not confuse sweats for pants. He's also not afraid to wear bright colored skinny jeans or pastel-colored shirts. Whereas this may be considered feminine in the states, it's considered fashionable in Italy. You'll also see a lot of men with sweaters draped over their shoulders and the occasional man-bag (not my favorite look but hey they're not perfect).
They say love is an international language, and to a certain extent it's true. After all, who needs words when you're locking lips with an Italian? On the other hand, it can not hurt to know just a few words and phrases in the context of meeting a man in Italy. It immediately breaks the ice and shows him you're willing to take a test drive in his, um … car. Buon divertimento!