I hear different reviews from various sources on the same topic: Italian men. In fact it’s almost silly to address it that way due to my hatred and distrust of generalizations, but let’s get to the point; my unique myth-busting experience.
Paulo and I had a difficult time communicating to begin with; as with many of my interactions so far, it involved a mixture of Italian, French, and English. Unfortunately for us, neither of us spoke a common language well. It’s amazing how much you can get with mannerisms. Anyway, I was very unsure what to make of the first time we met. “Americana?” “Si, sono Americana, studio giouralismo.” After some clumsy attempts at finding more information, we arrived at my sole connection to the Italian life, my relatives who live “2 hora di Urbino, dans le Marche, si chiami Sarnano.” We had something in common or so he says, the once again very skeptical me thinks. Of course, he’s going there the same weekend and has a car.
I wanted to trust him because he seemed so genuine, but all of the typical red flags were going up. Once again, my mind reverted to my predetermined notions of European interaction.
Maybe two nights later I had a very satisfying experience veering away from going out with the whole group of us. Instead, I stayed with Delaney and two of her Italian friends. Satisfied with the feeling that I was really in Europe and not at journalism camp, I continued the night out with the three of them at about 1am. Clearly this was later than my usual time to start the louder, more social portion of the night and I lost steam for the dancing/bar scene a lot sooner than expected. I rounded a corner in the bar in search of a friend who might interest me, or maybe I would find nothing which might be the final nudge to just walk back alone. Then I ran into Paulo. He seemed a little lost himself, so we teamed up. Once it was clear there was nothing left for us in town, we headed back.
This could easily be a red flag situation for some, but I followed my instincts that he was harmless and maybe even interesting. He proved me right. The first thing he said, after walking with me for maybe three minutes involving very limited communication was, “I’m so happy you aren’t drunk, people aren’t themselves.” Definitely not something I’m used to hearing from a guy in his early 20s, not to mention the fact that he had to have some kind of intuition if he got my level of sobriety from, “come va?” and a bunch of unofficial sign language.
I remembered he always talked about writing so somehow, I asked him what type, I’m pretty sure it involved, “che genre di scrivo?” and, “pourquoi…che?” Luckily he understood. How we got the following points across only God knows, but I found out that he was a published author, working on a second piece, with a strange train of thought type of writing. Of course poetry was included as well. At this point we hit a wall, but before I knew it he had me reciting Italian poetry which I realized after the fact once he mentioned the author’s name. We had really maxed out on what we knew how to say so we looped back around to small talk. Once he told me he was only 21, I instantly thought, I could take him, and was officially comfortable. Apparently he was too because he called me an old lady, clearly appropriate as I’m a whole two years older. After he took me around to see a lofty view on the way home, he politely said goodnight and wished me safe travels to Florence for the weekend. Once again, generalizations and typical notions were squashed.