Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Dating and Mating in Italy 






Sicilian Romance






Ruth Orkin's famous photograph, American Woman in Italy, from 1951. 


























































































 The poets Elizabeth and Robert Browning were famous Italophiles.  I describe them and some of their work on a page dedicated to them.  

But before marrying Robert and moving to Italy with him, Elizabeth wrote sonnets to him and eventually published them under the title 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'.  Robert called her 'my Portuguese', and she wrote the sonnets during their courtship for him.  

She is credited with moving forward the art of sonnet-writing in the English language with her moving, heartfelt, and thought-provoking sonnets.  You can read them online, and maybe borrow some to impress a lover.  Click here to go the Amherst University sonnet page.






This handsome devil is Petrarch who immortalized the object of his desire (Laura) by writing over 300 sonnets to her in the course of his lifetime.  Click here to my Petrarch page and perhaps read a few sonnets for inspiration.






























Foreign Women and Deceit

Foreign Men Dating in Italy

Marriage in Italy, the Data

Children in Italy

Getting Married in Italy

Romance and Big Talk

Love Poetry and Other Aphrodisiacs

Romance in the Workplace

American Women in Italy

Porn Warning

Romance Novels Set in Italy

Amore e Psiche




When in Italy, I used to joke that every Italian man was born with a slip of paper identifying his fidanzata.  That was because I never met a man without a woman he was promised to marry.  I learned later that many men tried to keep a woman in reserve, in case all their messing around turned up nothing better. 

I'm a woman, so I have much here about what is like for a foreign woman to date in Italy.  But I also have much here about marriage in Italy in general, and anecdotes about foreign men dating in Italy.


Foreign Women and Deceit

Dating in Italy can be difficult for a foreign woman.  Why is it that men have less respect for foreign women, and not just in Italy?  Why is it that most see them as a sport to enjoy while looking for the local woman to mother their children?  I don't know, and I won't speculate, but I will advise foreign women in Italy to beware.

I had one Italian man assure me that most Italian men are just looking for as many foreign 'adventures' as possible and nothing more.  

And there were the Italian men who asked me why most American women, specifically, moreso than other foreign women, were so naive as to believe all the lies the men told to get the women into bed.  They strongly suspected that most American women were slightly retarded, especially compared to Italian women, who knew better than to believe anything the men said.  

At no point did the men ever consider they might be wrong to use deception and deceit to attain their 'adventures'.  And never did they show any remorse for the pain they certainly caused the women who were not versed in Italian male conceits, and who mistakenly believed they were embarking on a beautiful romance. 

Having said that...the latest data shows that 1 in 10 Italian marriages these days, is between an Italian man and a non-Italian woman.  Most of these marriages are to poor Eastern European or Russian women, for reasons we can only guess at.


Foreign Men Dating and Mating in Italy

As for foreign men's experiences with Italian women?  I'm a woman, so what I can say comes from what foreign men have told me.  Their first impression is generally that Italian women seem to take great care in their appearance, and dress sexily.

Later understanding leads them to realize that is often a sign that women expect financial security from a marriage, moreso than in a country where women have a higher participation in the workforce than in Italy, and earn wages closer to men's wages, and where wages are generally high.

I've met men who thought they were in a loving relationship only to discover they were seen primarily as a good financial catch, and expected to support the Italian woman for the rest of her life, on his own, and that much of what she said to him and how she behaved was deceitful.

And I met an Italian woman who set her sights on marrying an American man studying medicine in Italy (there are many), so she could live a comfortable life in America as a doctor's wife.  She eventually did catch one, and is living, last I heard, as his wife in Boston.

I've met others who forged loving relationships with Italian women who wanted desperately to leave Italy behind and to move to a country where they could use their education to earn a decent living, and where they didn't feel they had to play a part with the man they loved.

I've met men from developing nations who thought they were in loving relationships with Italian women, only to find out they were adventures, and never considered serious matches because they were perceived as poor, with poor prospects.

I've also met men from developing nations who married Italian women who wanted to be dominant in a relationship and had decided it would be easier to do this with a man who probably wanted desperately not to have to return to his home country.

So again, to both men and women dating in Italy, and in any country where the culture is different from your own, beware.  Things many not be as you perceive them to be!


Marriage in Italy, the Data

What's marriage like in Italy?  A recent study asked people from the States and people in Italy 'What is the point of marriage?'.

In the States:  roughly 70% said:  companionship, and providing to the well-being of your partner.

In Italy:  roughly 70% said:  to have children.

Forewarned is forearmed!

Here are some of the data to give you an idea about marriage in Italy.

Married life in Italy is beginning later and later for mainly two reasons.  The first reason is that there is an affordable housing shortage so couples wait to marry  until they can find and pay for something suitable.  

The second reason marriage begins later now is anecdotally explained as many young men prefer to be spoiled at home by their housewife mothers, than to contribute housework in a working couple relationship, which is a growing norm, even in Italy.  (Italy rates near the bottom on the European list of women's empowerment.)

Another reason is the growing number of young women entering the workforce.  Many openly state for all to hear, their contempt for traditional Italian men who expect them to be their second mother, which often means being the couple's housekeeper, cook, baby-maker and bottle-washer.  

Once Italians marry, they are likely to remain married, for better or for worse.  Only 12% divorce, which is near rock bottom in Europe.  But like all countries where divorce is uncommon, infidelity rates are high (50% for men, 60% for women in a latest study).  It means serial infidelity is the norm for over half of married Italians, rather than serial monogamy, as is the growing norm in English-speaking countries.  

The three reasons divorce is low in Italy are:

  • the costly and timely nature of Italian divorce,
  • the poor regulation of child support by fathers leaving most divorced women and their children in poverty (in fact, the male-dominate law-makers objected strongly and vocally to a judge jailing a man in stable employment who failed to pay his court required child-support payments, on the grounds a that 'he may have had a good reason for it; we don't know what she did to him'), 
  • and the socially unacceptable nature of divorce (remarriage is relatively rare).  

Italian women appear to know intuitively what a Canadian study has shown, that women and children suffer in divorces because of the poverty they are often subjected to by bum-fathers, more than any other factor.

The latest statistics show that a change is occurring in the regions where women are very active in the workforce (north-central Italy). 

  • Half of all the new marriages in this recent period have ended in separation or divorce,
  • most often because the couple say they want different things out of life (out of the relationship, is more likely). 
  • Other studies show the young couples have trouble combining married life with two careers.
  • And like everywhere, divorced men are more likely to remarry than divorced women. 

For a sobering viewpoint on infidelity in Italian marriages, check out this BBC article.


Children in Italy

If a couple has a child (most do, but nowadays, only one, maximum 2), the child is usually prized and spoiled. 

Italy has very low rates of child abuse and childhood accidents.  Children are another reason divorce is rare.  For the good of the children, the couple will generally stay together, unhappily, and sometimes hostilely, at least until the child is 18.  

Use of birth control is very, very high, teen pregnancies low, and abortion legal and on par with England and France's rates. 

But despite a high use of condoms, HIV/AIDS is high on the European scale due to high numbers of IV drug users.

A recent study found some evidence that the low birth rates in Mediterranean EU countries correlated with their insistence on maintaining a traditional paternalistic society.  (Italy was recently singled out by the Financial Times newspaper as a country in Western Europe where feminism had lost the fight, and women's representations in society were on the low level of a developing nation.)

Women, it seems, would have the obligatory child in marriage, but were very reluctant to have more than one.  Many calculated that to earn social acceptance, they had to have the one child, but they could also maintain some freedom in a quite possibly loveless or unfaithful marriage by not having any more than one. And with only one child, it might be easier to continue working.

Actually, the latest evidence shows that healthy demographics (a birth rate at replacement level) depends on a modern economy paired with a modern society, modern in terms of making children and work compatible for women.  Italy (and Japan) has not yet been able to accomplish that.  Until it does, birth rates will continue to remain below replacement level.


Getting Married in Italy

If you are not Italian, but want to marry in Italy, one company offers just this service in romantic Venice.  Click here to go to the Venice Honeymoons site.  

And the Virtual Italia site offers an article explaining how to organize the wedding yourself.  Another company will organize your Italian wedding in San Gimignano, Portofino, or at Lake Como.

There are lots of Italian sites for wedding planning, in Italian.  Here are three:

Visit my Majolica page to read more about it and to see more images of the various types of majolica, the perfect wedding gift for an Italophile.


Romance and Big Talk

A recent survey conducted in Europe asked men how often they had romantic relations

Why the European Union's surveyors asked this, no one knows, but many suspect the Eurocrat who authorized it was trying to settle a bet in Brussels, the location of the European Union's civil service.  They seem to have too much time on their hands, and international competitiveness can sometimes get the better of them.

The results showed that Italian men claimed to have romantic relations more frequently than all other Europeans

But who believes a guy about things like that?  Forget the strictures against kissing and telling.  The survey proved only that Italian men are the biggest braggarts in Europe!


Love Poetry and Other Aphrodisiacs

A few years back, the central bank of Italy noticed lots of poetry written in pen on the worn out lira bills that were about to be destroyed.  An example of the innate Italian sense of art, they actually had employees sort through the poetry to select the best and published it in an anthology! 

It was a big hit, not just in Italy.  Most of the poems were love odes, but why they were written on bills, I'm not sure.  Unless the writers were inspired and could find no other paper to write on.

If poetry is not your forte, you could always try aphrodisiacs.  The Mangiare Bene site provides romance inducing recipes.  Click here to go to that recipe page.

Saint Pasquale de Baylon is the Saint Protector of all World Cooks.  He was sanctified partly because of the sexual potency a recipe of his gave men in his parish and beyond, helping them conceive lots of children.  

That recipe was for Zabaione, an egg, sugar and Marsala wine dessert.  Click here to read his story and to get the original recipe that he gave to his female parishioners, the 1-2-2-1, or the 'L Sanbajon, in the Turin dialect.  Or go to my Zabaione page for more information and a simple recipe that comes out great every time.


Romance in the Workplace

Italian men (and women) do like to flirt, even if they rarely expect anything to come of it.  

I read the comments of an Italian doctor working in Ireland who complained bitterly about the Irish women's lack of fun.  None of them were willing to join him in flirting in the workplace!  He was so disappointed he was considering quitting and returning to Italy.  

I, too, have had Italian bosses who, if they were working in the States, would have long ago been charged with several counts of sexual harassment.  

When I warned one of them about this (in case he ever worked for a U.S. company), I realized from his expression that it was and would remain a case of cross-cultural misunderstanding.  

He could not comprehend that a woman would not appreciate being desired.  Few women in Italy climb very high on company ladders, so he could not grasp the idea that his flirting could be construed as sexual blackmail.  Just a word of warning....


Americans in Italy

Of all the nationalities that visit Italy, I noticed more Americans than others, marrying and staying put.

I only met one American man who was with an Italian women, and she considered herself very lucky to have him.  All the others were American women living in Italy with Italian husbands.  The cultures were different, and there were difficulties, but when they were overcome, most felt they were enjoying the best of both worlds.  

The Italian men often said they felt a friendship with their American wife that they could not imagine having with an Italian wife.  The American women often said they felt more feminine and desired than they had felt in relationships with American men.

There was the ex-marketer who chucked it in and moved to Italy.  She fell in love with a businessman, they married, started several companies together, and then started a late family.  Her pregnancy and delivery were so easy that she almost regretted not starting earlier so she could have had more children.

There was a woman from New York married to an Italian Freudian psychoanalyst whom she had met in the States.  It seemed to be a good relationship, but then he hit on me, the jerk, when his wife was visiting her family back home.  Maybe it was just a Freudian slip.

And there was the American woman who collected Christmas trees from people after the holiday season.  In Italy they often sell the trees with the roots, so she planted them at their property in the countryside.  It was partly out of compassion for the trees, and partly to plant an inexpensive shield from their nosey neighbors.

There was also an American woman who had fallen, nearly upon arrival in Italy, for a male model-looking Italian man.  But when her Italian improved, and the allure of the dark looks wore off, she realized he was nearly illiterate and Neanderthal in his ideas about women.  The last I saw of her, she was engaged to marry a balding, blond, scrappy  Italian man who was charming, intelligent, proud of her success, and very successful in his own right.

I knew one American woman who was engaged to marry an Italian.  She told me she was going to have to take him back to the States to save her sanity.  She explained that another American woman she knew who had married six months earlier and remained in Italy, had spent an hour the previous afternoon explaining why you had to definitely, absolutely, positively mop every floor in your house every single day of the year!  To escape this sort of brainwashing, she said, she was ready to make a mad dash after the ceremony from the church to the airport with her man in tow.

There was also the woman who married an Italian thirty years ago, established a life together in Italy, brought up a family together,  and recently explained to their friends, with some embarrassment, that the husband had broken his toe in bed.  Her friends were very impressed, and wondered if the American woman - Italian man combination wasn't something special afterall.


Porn Warning

Italy has long been a capital of porn filmmaking, but now it's inundated with porn websites and counterfeit sex-drugs.  It become so bad that even the late-Pope made a special appeal to Italians to kick the porn habit.  

He stressed that the habit, or more precisely, the fetish, is based on the inhumane debasement of the sex act and of the women in most sex films and on most sites.  

The porn obsession is also the reason I do not link to more Italian sites.  Too often they are subverted to re-link to porn sites, or they advertise hard-core porn on unrelated sites, or hide links to porn in innocent-looking links.  

I was re-linked to one and my system infected with a computer virus, so be careful when roaming through Italian cyberspace, especially when roaming with your children! 



Romance Novels Set in Italy

Sometimes the fantasy is better than the real thing, so if you like reading romance novels, I've put together a page of romance novels set in Italy