Single Woman in Italy? The Sicilian Housewife’s Guide to Italian Men

I spent years travelling alone among the men of Italy. I wish I had known all these insider tips, which I’ve now learnt from my own Italian Hubby!

Boundaries

Italian men will do things that overstep “boundaries” in your culture. Their boundaries are different.

One thing they will do, relentlessly, is chat you up in the street, in the middle of the day. Many a time I have been followed the entire length of a road by boys offering ice-cream, asking if I had a boyfriend, and congratulating me on having “two beautifuls blue eyes.”

Ciao Bellissima! You wanna licka me?
Ciao Bellissima! You wanna licka me?

In Italian culture it is fine to do this by day, as it is not considered intimidating. As soon as the sun goes down, the same behaviour is regarded as sleazy and desperate.

So if anyone tries to pick you up while you’re taking photos of some fountain, he’s probably a nice boy; but if someone tries to chat you up in a bar or nightclub, you should give him the brush-off.

Clothing

If the level of pestering that you get from Italian men is ruining your holiday, you need to ditch your shorts and backpack and put on a mini skirt, all the make-up that gravity permits and a pair of wedge heels that look like the plinth of a marble statue. (Be careful if you choose spiky heels like these; they can get jammed between cobble stones.)

Loriblu-scarpe-tricolore-2014
Yes

 

No
No

 

The sleazier Italian men try their luck with tourists whom they think are probably hard up for male attention; if you’re in Birkenstock sandals, that means YOU. If they think you are out of their league, they will leave you in peace.

 

Telling men to get lost

If you are feeling intimidated and want a man to go away, say “Mi lasci in pace?” angrily. It means “Will you leave me in peace?” and it always works. If it doesn’t, you need to start screaming at the top of your voice for help.

Touching

Italians are generally very tactile, but men don’t touch women unless they get signals that it is wanted.Β Your instant reaction to any uninvited touching should be to slap the man’s hand off you the same way you would slap a mosquito.

When a mutual acquaintance introduces two people, they usually give each other a Hollywood-style fake kiss on both cheeks. The man offers to shake hands and the woman decides if she wants to do the kiss thing – he follows her lead. Kissing is common among younger people but with older men, I’d stick to the handshake.

Sometimes men actually make their lips touch your cheek, which means they fancy you. If you have already been flirting then you asked for it. If not, show what you think of him by showily sanitising your cheek with an antibacterial wipe.

Swot it away! Swot it away!!!

 

Compliments

Italian culture is very beauty-oriented. Children get art appreciation lessons at school from the age of six.Β While courting you, Italian men are likely to tell you your eyes look like two stars that just fell from heaven, and that your beauty is so uplifting it has actually increased their IQ.

They are not saying these things because they think it will get you into bed. Italians will never say you’re beautiful if they don’t really think it: they can be brutally honest. They expect you to take compliments with self-confident poise, like an Italian woman.

In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t fizzle out after marriage. Italian men always notice when you’ve been to the hairdresser. They always have an opinion on your new dress. They always think your shoes are privileged to be allowed to touch your beautiful feet.

A Date?

If you do decide to go on a date with an Italian, you will be taken home and introduced to his parents, aunts, uncles and probably half the neighbours before going out for the evening. This is another way your Italian beau will reassure you that he is a nice boy from a nice family, with no shady secrets.

If you have been on more than five dates with an Italian man and still not met any of his family, you need to face the fact that he is married.

Your first few dates with an Italian man should look like this. Just go with it. You’ll get him to yourself eventually.

 

For a date, an Italian man may take you for dinner, or for an ice-cream and a walk along the seafront, or maybe to the beach. He may invite you onto the back of his motorbike to see a local beauty spot. He will not invite you to go to a bar and consume alcohol with him unless he thinks you are a woman of ill repute.

On the beach

Italian men like taking their date to the beach. Most Italian men wear a kind of swimwear which may remind you of a banana and two kiwis slotted inside a credit card holder. Don’t be scared! Just take a large sun hat which completely hides your face.

…. or take photos!

 

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51 thoughts on “Single Woman in Italy? The Sicilian Housewife’s Guide to Italian Men

  1. So funny! I think I’d have a hard time with all the fawning, pawing and compliments though! And meeting the extended family on the first date! I don’t think Italian men are for me – but then maybe I’m of ill-repute πŸ˜‰

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  2. I wish American men would realize the tremendous appeal of being called “Cara”. The young guys with their pants hanging off their butts and hoodies hiding their faces are about as unappealing as you can get!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those aren’t “American men,” they’re in their 20s or younger and their “ghetto people”, not “American men”. Americans hate their idiocy too.

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  3. You make me laugh as always! πŸ™‚ Unfortunately I have had some very sleazy encounters with Italian men, outside of Italy, in broad daylight. The worst was in Barcelona, lunch time. Two Italian guys came to me, map in hand. Excuse me they said. I assumed they were lost and needed to give them directions. Suddenly one started kissing me ON THE MOUTH! The other guy was flipping at his friend. I was trying my best to kick him in the balls. But luckily got myself out of his grasp before managing the kick. And went off….

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    1. Oh my God you poor thing!!! That’s nothing less than sexual assault. Totally against the rules in Italy like everywhere else in the world! Pity you didn’t manage to pepper spray him.
      How do you find Spanish men generally? I’ve only been to Spain on brief holidays but the Spanish men I met seemed a lot more restrained than most Italian guys.

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      1. Indeed they are way more restrained than Italian. If a man makes a pass on the street at a woman, he is probably not Spanish, or he would be a worker from a construction site….

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  4. One of your best posts of all time! Funny, yet truly beneficial. More truth than whimsy . Though not from Sicily, mi Nanu was from Bagheria. I can see it all throughout my relatives. I think CondΓ© Nast Traveler could use your help? Ciao Bella

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    1. Thank you – an endorsement from a (partly) Italian man means a lot to me!
      I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, because foreign women (including me) come to a lot of conclusions about Italian men which are wrong, just because the culture and rules are different. If they understand how it works here I think they can relax and enjoy the sweetness of Italian men!

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  5. You actually make this sound pretty alluring. I am so tempted to fly to Italy (again; last time I was with a boyfriend) and experience some of that, um…hospitality… for myself.

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  6. I’ve always loved Italian men and their compliments. Never understood why many women were soooo offended. Course the older I get the less it happens so don’t have to worry about it. LOL Fun read. I’ve always said, need a bit of attention? Go to Italy! I can’t wait to visit again – this year! whoopee!

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  7. OMG glad I found your site tonight –reliving my past ! Plan on returning to Sicily next year — distant cousins there. Where were you 40 plus years ago — what a laugh — like you I taught English in Greece and the Greek men were like the Sicilians — my fiance at the time (Greek with American relatives) always had the relatives with us, island excursion the Uncle, aunt, second cousins –Sunday drive same thing etc. Always concerned about my clothes and looks and always complimentary –it was great.

    Had a close call in Istanbul too on my first night in that city but not at gunpoint — by 3 Raki drinking drunks who were driving a dolmouche (taxi) and by the time I and a couple from the states got in it —well it was too late. We got them to take us to a restaurant where they joined us and were like 3 Turkish Zorbas (sort of wild). Soon I realized maybe I was in an awkward position as all three were looking at me like a baklava, lol. I gently slipped out and found my way back to the hotel.

    Found the Spanish men (and women) stuffy, what is with them ?

    I found the Italians to be the nicest of all the Med men — and Sicilians the best.
    Thanks for all the history and info –I sent it to some of my friends who are Sicilian Americans and are members of our Sicilian heritage association.

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    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and sharing the memories with me. πŸ™‚ And I hope some members of your Heritage Association join in with memories and knowledge of Sicily, as I love hearing stories from people with earlier memories of this fascinating island.

      I had all kinds of close scrapes in Istanbul – I put some of them in my novel set in Turkey (Evil Eye). I used to hate those Taxi Dolmus things, even though I never had any scary incidents in them I was always worried something would happen and they made me feel so ill at ease. But my worst experiences happened on the buses – stuff too rude to write about in public :-O
      Yes, the Spanish, stuffy indeed. Have you been to Marsala? That was a Spanish city and the buildings have a very Spanish look and the people there are all…. yep, stuffy just like Spanish people! Though I must say I’ve had some fantastic holidays and made good friends in Spain. They loosen up something amazing at about 1am after a few jugs of sangria, which is when the evening is really just beginning for them πŸ˜‰

      I’m sure we could share a story or two over a glass of Sicilian orange juice! Let me know when you come over to Sicily and if you are near me and have any free time we could meet for a chat. (I’m always excited to meet foreigners out here in the styx!)

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  8. I discovered your site about 2 weeks ago and i love it. I have upped sticks from London and have come to live in oritigia Syracuse on my own…… have been here 2 days and although a bit overwhelmed i love it….

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  9. I discovered your site about 2 weeks ago and i love it. I have upped sticks from London and have come to live in oritigia Syracuse on my own…… have been here 2 days and although a bit overwhelmed with what i have done i thinkin am going to love it here

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  10. sicilian housewife, you’re the best!!!

    i’ve been to italy twice, alone and with friends, but never to sicily, and I confess to be a little scared of how things could work out in the south… i’m brazilian, and on a quick trip to pompeii and capri I was already a bit oppressed about all that “you don’t need to pay for your coffee, bella” and by the middle of the trip I was telling everybody I as american, so they would keep looking me in the eyes!
    I find it bizarre that men follow you on the street, but hey, if you say it’s normal…

    congratulations again on your so easy and cheerful blog, I’ll be coming here more while planning next april in sicily! πŸ™‚

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  11. I just started to read all of your informational blogs. Love each and every one of them. You have a real talent for words. It reminded me when I came back to Porticello at 21 and I was a “real” beauty truly was. I remember young men coming to talk to my grandmother with their aunts, mothers, sisters and whomever they could bring along for my grandmother to introduce me to them. My grandmother would patiently explain that it would be a courting ritual but I told her I already had an American boyfriend that I was serious about than BANG!!!!!!! saw my husband and two weeks later we eloped. I had been back for a month vacation and ended up staying for 8 months. We married legally and then came back to the States with a husband and a baby on the way. We are still very much in love and three children. What a life.

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  12. What a brilliant article! So witty and I imagine, truthful. I was disappointed when it ended. More please.
    And I want myself an Italian man (with all the family). πŸ™‚

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      1. I will most definitely check that out. πŸ˜‰ Also, my family of five is trying to plan a trip to Sicily and an area around Rome and can not seem to find a good place to stay that would fit our large family (I have two younger siblings, ages 5 and 9). Do you have any recommendations that would be relaxing and good for younger kids? We are about ready to give up looking. Thanks a bundle!

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      2. Yes! Go to trip-tipp.com which has a link called Holiday Lettings. They have lots of family size villas and some of them have a back garden which is basically your own private beach. I cannot think of anything more relaxing or fun for a family holiday.

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  13. at 58, I figured I might be entirely safe in Birkenstocks…so although I am a fairly plain and distinctly plump middle aged woman, I will now stock up on antibacterial wipes and some feisty language just in case – thanks for the heads up πŸ™‚

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