So you are a female and new to Italy, right? How long you have been already staying on Italian land? Couple of hours? Days? Weeks? I think it is enough some hours, if not minutes, well, maximum one day to get first portion of the attention from Italian men. Have you already received your portion? It made you smile, right? Or may be you got angry? Or confused? In any case, it seldom leaves you indifferent.
Why do I write this article? To help to foreigner girls- newcomers to Italy to get used to the local “unspoken” rules as fast as possible, and to help them to avoid negative experiences. And my dear men, I am not a feminist and neither I am lesbian, before you ask 🙂 If you are reading this article and found there some tricks which you tend to use – then may be it’s time to stop and think, and may be to check your tactics and become more honest, what do you think?
Here are the seven main strategies the men in Italy tend to use:
1. “Sei belissima!” [you are very beautiful] The most common phrase. You will hear it almost as often as “ciao”. After a while you get used to it. No matter whether you consider yourself pretty or not, whether you put make-up or not etc, you will hear this phrase time to time, just because you are a female. Just learn to react to this calmly.
2. Directions, time, help. Often you can be stopped on a street by a man asking you for a specific street, time or other kind of help. It is actually hardly possible to know in advance whether this person really needs help or is just trying to hit on you. After you helped out (showed the street, told the time etc.), there are two options: person thanks and goes further (less likely). Or he will try to continue the conversation by asking personal questions (more likely).
3. “Parli bene Italiano!” [you speak Italian very well]. It does not matter what is your level of Italian, whether you are complete beginner or fluent in this language, you will definitely hear these words. Well, it is a nice compliment if your Italian is actually quite good and you had a discussion with the person. But usually happens the following: a man sees a girl walking on a street, and starts conversation:
Man: Ciao! / Buongiorno/ Buonasera (depends on situation)
Man: Sono Marco/Francesco/etc. Come ti chiami? Or come stai? (or some other very simple question)
Girl: gives the response
Man: Di dove sei?
Girl: Gives name of her country
Man: Wow! Ma parli bene italiano!
– well even if this girl is really fluent in Italian, it is clear that you might need some more sentences to understand the actual level.
4. Actress. “Hmmm I think I have seen you somewhere…ah, yes, that movie/show etc.” and then comes the name of an actress. Most of the girls would like to be similar to a beautiful actress or a singer, so often this trick works well.
Here I can tell you funny story: there was one man, who told me the same story – that he thought that I am an Italian actress, TWICE, in the same place – in a bookstore at Termini. 🙂 It was completely wrong tactic for me, as I do not know any actresses at all.
5. “We have met somewhere”. This is similar to the actress trick. Man comes and tells you that you have met somewhere, could even provide the name of “a friend” (there is quite a big likelihood that you know someone called Maria or Alessandro). You try to remember where you could have met, when in reality you have never met before.
But be careful, sometimes, in an international circle, you really could have met the person previously, even in different town/country,
6. Tandem. “Could you, please, teach me your language?” Men will try their best to find an excuse to see you again. As an option, it could be an excuse to learn your language. Works especially well if you are native English/French/Spanish speaker.
7. “Sei italiana?” Usually foreign girls in Italy see this as a compliment, as they think that it means that they have integrated into society so well, and that they now look/behave like Italian women. Be careful here, this question has nothing to do with your look, especially if you are tall blond girl with blue eyes 🙂
To sum up, men in Italy are using tactic of compliments. Why? Because it makes the person forthcoming, wanting to continue the discussion. This is neither negative nor positive, just be aware of it 😉 Compliments are nice and positive if they are appropriate. So before melting like an ice-cream after being praised, think twice whether what they actually say is the truth and think what are their the real intentions.
For men the most important rule is to make you talking. So if you do not like the person and do not want to talk, just do not answer. Yes, be silent. Even the negative response will make them to continue the conversation.
To conclude, I should tell, there is nothing bad in meeting new persons, including men in Italy. They are actually quite nice and can be very helpful. But it is always better to control the situation and to know the water in which you are going to get in. Good luck!
I would like to thank all my friends whose experience and interview answers helped me in writing this article! If you know some other tricks, please share them in the comments 🙂