If you’re alone this Valentine’s Day and you find yourself fantasizing of a love affair in the Mediterranean — don’t. While Italy is well known for its food, art, and scenery, it’s not exactly a secret that Italian men have a reputation for being some of the most romantic in the world. Well, don’t book your flight yet, ladies, because there are some things you should keep in mind before falling for the first Valentino you meet when you step off the plane. date an Italian man
How do I know? Two years ago, I spent the summer in Italy, and, like most single ladies on a three-month trip abroad, I thought I might meet a handsome Valentino or two in my travels. Turns out, my summer love was not as tall, dark, and handsome as I imagined– most days he more closely resembled a bottle of vino or a plate of pasta carbonara.
Even my mother was convinced I would come home in three months with an Italian boyfriend in tow. As her chronically single last daughter, I can understand her disappointment when the only thing I brought home from Italy was an extra 5lbs around the hips and a statue of David keychain.
What did I learn of the Italian male variety after spending three months living and working in the Umbrian countryside? I have seen the best–and the worst– of what Italy has to offer when it comes to men. Here are five reasons to fall head over heels for the first Valentino, Giuseppe, or Francesco you meet and five more to stay the hell away.
Disclaimer: **Entire groups of people can’t be summed up by ten generalizations. I have very limited experience with Italians guys. There are exceptions to every rule, and I’m only speaking from my own experiences, being an American tourist in Italy.**
Italian men are good looking. Even the ones who aren’t blessed with a greek figure or a chiseled face know how to put on a show for the ladies. In Italy, being handsome isn’t an attribute, it’s a way of being. When Italians leave the house for the day, they dress to make a bella figura (a good impression)– and they don’t disappoint. From the gel in their hair to the polish on their shoes, Italian men look like they’re headed for the runway even when they’re just taking an evening walk around the piazza.
If you let an Italian man come onto you, you will soon feel like you are the only woman in the world. He will take you for romantic walks, make eyes at you all evening, call you pet names within minutes of meeting you, and sometimes, even, profess his love to you before you even know his last name. He will buy you flowers, take you for a candlelit dinner, then for a moonlit walk around the piazza. He’ll insist that he never truly experienced life until he met you. He is full of shit. You won’t believe a word of it, but he will (at least for the evening). Italian men are intoxicating (and overwhelming, exhausting and relentless–but more on that later).
He likes to have fun
Italian men like to enjoy themselves, laugh, and not worry too much. He will take you on mini trips to the coast or take you to concerts in the piazza. He loves to eat, drink (not too much) and spend time in the company of his friends and family. His dates will always be exciting. Netflix didn’t even exist in Italy until this year, so chances are, “come over and chill” isn’t something you’d ever hear from your Italian man for date night.
He is passionate date an Italian man
The passion doesn’t end there. Italians have been known to be some of the best lovers, and from what I know from my own limited experience and the experiences of my friends, this isn’t far off– but not in the way you think. While American men are sometimes known for despicable behavior of how they treat even a one-night-stand, Italian men pull out all the stops.
A one-night-stand could turn into a day-and-a-half-stand. He will look at you like you are the most important woman in the world, shower you with kisses, take his time, and make you feel special. He won’t ask you to leave in the middle of the night because he has to “work early”. You won’t have to sneak past his roommates in the morning with heels in hand while he snores. He will make you coffee. He will bring you home. And he will treat you with the same respect and interest he did when he was courting you.
Free tour guide and language coach
Coming from a girl who downloaded dating apps in Rome for the sole purpose of getting restaurant recommendations, this is by far the greatest benefit of going out with an Italian man. While he takes you for ice cream around the piazza, he’ll teach you how to swear in Roman and tell you the historical significance of the nearest Bernini statue. You may not be in love with him, but who can resist a free tour guide and language coach? Not this girl.
Now, here’s the bad news. date an Italian man
He’s beautiful–so you have to be, too
Italian men are so vain. They take pride in their appearance, but they also take time. They will likely spend more time in front of the mirror than you getting ready. His eyebrows will be perfectly combed and he will smell like he just bathed in a vat of cologne. He will expect the same level of perfection from you and will criticize you at every opportunity, for example, if your shoes don’t match your bag. I once went on a date with an Italian man, and the first thing he said when he greeted me was “Wow! You must have gained five kilos since we last met!” At first, I thought his candor was refreshing, and then I realized he was just a jackass.
Going on vacation in Italy and want a little romance? No problem. Looking for a husband? Try literally any other country. An Italian man will tell you that you are the love of his life and there is no one more beautiful than you. Part of his charm is that in that moment he’ll actually believe it himself– even if for just one night. Don’t fall into this trap! Of course, there are exceptions, but in my experience, they’re rare. Enjoy yourself, but protect your heart–and don’t expect Mario to put a ring on it.
He’s a mamma’s boy
You’ve heard of someone being close with their family, but Italians take it to a whole new level. There are few things in this world stronger than the bond between an Italian mother and her son. HALF of Italian men still live at home with their mothers— a phenomenon known in Italy as ‘mammone‘, which is a not-so-polite way of saying ‘big mommas boys’.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting the parents, but the Italian mother-son bond is borderline weird. When a 35-year-old man still eats most his meals at Mom’s kitchen table and she comes over once a week to do his laundry and tidy up his apartment, you’ll know something is not quite right. He’ll want you to love his mom as much as he does, and the worst thing you can do is get on his her bad side. And get ready for her to be around all the time.
Think I’m exaggerating? In Italy, THREE OUT OF 10 marriages end in divorce because of the close bond between Italian men and their mothers.
When mom’s not around, you’re expected to play house
You might breathe a sigh of relief when his mother finally goes home and gives you some privacy. Don’t rejoice quite yet. Italian men like to be taken care of. When mamma’s out of sight, you’ll be the one attending to your bae’s every physical and emotional need. You’ll find yourself cleaning up after him, making him food (that will never compare to his mother’s cooking) and lending an empathetic ear for hours on end when he complains to you about his day.
He is intense
Many foreigners in Italy are often unfairly perceived as ‘cold’ or ‘dry’ because they are a bit more reserved. This is because Italians are ruled by emotion. He is passionate in everything he does, thinks, and says, which can go from endearing to exhausting very quickly. He will exercise the full range of his emotional spectrum at every opportunity and will seem theatrical when expressing himself. A true drama queen. Every word that comes out of his mouth is supplemented by a hand gesture, and sometimes you’ll wonder if he’s angry with you or just really interested in what he’s saying.
He runs hot. In an argument, he is relentless. He will put up a fight and try to make you see things from his perspective. He will never admit fault. He’s stubborn and will persist in changing your opinion long after you’ve lost the energy to keep going. Be careful when you joke with him. He won’t react kindly to insult, but he has no problem telling you about your flaws. He is jealous and possessive of you, and he’s never wrong.
While Italian men have become some of my best friends, I wouldn’t be quick to commit to anything serious. Here’s my advice for women traveling to Italy and looking for love. Be cautious, take your time, enjoy yourself, and above all, make sure he gives you a tour of the city!
Check out this story, modified and published on Elite Daily.
Have any fun dating stories from your time in Italy? Tell me in the comments below! And Buon San Valentino! Date an Italian Man