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  • Don't Be Blinded By Italian Men
    While many Italian men are handsome and charming, they are not all perfect
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    Years ago, I wrote a column for about why Italian men are so alluring to women the world over. And many people followed my courtship and now marriage to my husband Antonio Gerenini, an Italian, through my writing. Still today, women write to me about that article on Italian men, and they ask me how to snag an Italian native. But some readers have the wrong idea about Italian men and my expertise, and I'd like to set the record straight once and for all.

    Many women already have an Italian man in mind when they write me, and they share intimate details about their feelings for these men with me. While I'm honored that they think I somehow have some sort of magical powers that brought an Italian man to me, I honestly don't. My husband and I met during one of my vacations to Italy; he is one of my cousin's best friends, and we all broke bread together.

    Then, my Italian man did all the chasing. He started e-mailing and calling, and he made the first visit to the States to see if our relationship could turn into something more than friendship. I was myself, and he liked me. I believe that my Italian language skills and Italian heritage certainly helped us communicate better and meant we shared certain intrinsic values. Less than five years later, we married in Italy and had a vow renewal in the United States. For the moment, we're basically living half the year in one country and half in the other. It's stressful and hard but also kind of fun and exciting.

    I'm no expert on Italian men, however. We still have cultural differences that we have to address at times, such as the fact that American women don't spend all their free time ironing, which seems to be a national pastime for Italian women, or my husband's desire to eat a big meal at lunch, instead of dinner, when we are in the United States. Our marriage is far from perfect, and living in the other's country is trying at times to say the least.

    What a lot of women who write to me seem to think is that Italian men are gods among us mere mortals. That's simply not true. Yes, all of the things I wrote in that original article about Italian men are true - many of them are sexy and romantic and they make you feel special. But they are still men. Once you have them to yourself, you'll have the same challenges as any couple in any country - from who left the cap off the toothpaste to how much money to put in the savings account each month to keeping alive the passion.

    The point I'm trying to make is that I don't want readers, especially women, to get the wrong idea. Just because you found yourself a handsome, charming Italian man doesn't mean he is going to be perfect. In fact, some women who write to me scare me because they seem to overlook red flags just because the man they've fallen for is Italian. There are good and bad people in every group, even in Italy.

    An Italian man who is jealous and possessive at the start of your relationship will likely not change. He might even get worse and he could get violent. An Italian man who is close to his mamma is nice, but if he's too close - he still lives with her, puts you second to her always, shares finances with her - you might want to run out of the relationship. Some Italian men step over the line when it comes to their relationship with their moms, and this will not get better for you in time. In fact, a couple of years ago, the Italian media came out with lots of stories about how Italian divorce rates were rising, in part, because wives were fed up with their mothers-in-law and husbands.

    Stereotypes about the Latin lover who woos a different woman every night might be exaggerated, but if your Italian man is cheating on you, he doesn't deserve you. And he probably won't change either. Those of you who have written to me about men who do any of these rotten things should try to find someone else who treats you well and loves you in the way you deserve. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't warn women everywhere that you can just as easily find an Italian frog as an Italian prince. If your Italian man is not treating you well, and especially if he's abusing you either physically or emotionally, you should leave him. You can get professional help and support at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. No one - not even an Italian man - is worth your own safety, health, or life.

    Di Meglio is the guide to Newlyweds for


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