(Written January 29th)
Apparently, I am una bella en Italia. (As is pretty much every young female, I’m sure). I had been warned about this, but mamma mia!
It’s like wearing a giant sign saying “I AM SINGLE AND COULD COOK DELICIOUS FOOD FOR YOU AND OUR FUTURE BABIES”—even when bundled in layers of clothing, walking quickly, and avoiding eye contact to a bitchy extent. I cannot go too far without a “Buona sera, singnora!” or “Ciao, bella!” or effusive stares. Usually I ignore them, because I don’t want to give off the wrong impression, and am honestly too occupied holding back a nervous giggle because I have NO idea how to handle this kind of attention. Occasionally I’ll greet them back as I keep walking, especially if it’s just a shop owner being polite. Sometimes I freeze up and can’t even produce a “Ciao” though.
I have not once felt threatened or harassed or offended by these Italian men, though, despite this shocking amount of attention. My housemates agree with this notion as well. Yes, these men will tell you that you are beautiful right to your face. They will flatter you, and they naturally will step down into the road while you pass by so that you can stay safely on the sidewalk. As my Literature teacher pointed out when we were discussing how Audrey Hepburn is praised by the Italian men in Roman Holiday, “They are direct, but in a respectful, romantic way. They will try SO hard!” And it’s true. No threats, no touching, no disrespect—just a shot at telling a girl she’s pretty.
If I am still single and lonely at age 30, I am moving to Italy 😀