11 THINGS ITALIANS CAN TEACH US ABOUT ROMANCE
I recently moved from New York City to a small medieval town on the Roman Coast…propelled by love. Watching Italian couples from teens in a gelateria to great grandparents sitting on a shaded terrace, has provided many beautiful lessons about how to demonstrate love and keep romance alive. Anyone can apply these simple yet meaningful acts, gestures, and words from one of the world’s most sensual and emotive cultures—one that has been passionately expressing love and romance for centuries and still does today.
1. Abbracci e baci (hugs and kisses) are gestures of affection that foster closeness whether given in the privacy of home or openly bestowed while out in the piazza. Not only do partners enjoy each other’s touch, hugs and kisses claim each other as their own and provide a special sense of tenderness from the sweetness of being in physical contact.
2. Un po’ di gelosia (a little bit of jealously) is culturally accepted as a means to further enhance a couple’s fidelity by creating a strong bond of protection and care. “If someone truly doesn’t want to lose you, he or she will hold onto you tight. It’s not about taking away one’s freedom, but demonstrating that you’ve become a part of them,” explained Lucina, 75, married 53 years.
3. Le passeggiate mano a mano (walks hand in hand) are one of the most valuable ways couples spend time together engrossed in conversation or simply walking in silence while observing their surroundings. Whether crossing through a piazza, walking on the beach, or strolling along the cobblestones there is a unity created step by step.
4. Prendi il tuo partner per la gola (take your partner by the throat) is actually one of the most important ways to obtain and maintain his or her affection. “My wife is an excellent cook and all that she makes keeps my heart and stomach happy,” explained Giuseppe, 56, married 25 years. Cooking and eating in the Italian culture are revered as one of the most important sensory and nurturing experiences—even more so when shared between lovers.
5. La musica, la poesia, i capolavori dell’arte (music, poetry, and artistic masterpieces) serve as a rich documentation of aesthetics, heartfelt sensitivity, and emotion as experienced through the ages. “Beauty awakens the soul to act,” wrote Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, one of the greatest works of Italian literature.
6. Lo spazio sacro (the sacred space) of the home and the lives created in it are what Italians value so very much and are quite protective of. Especially when it comes to the most intimate of times, the bedroom door locks and couples take each other with great ardor as they “fare l’amore” (make love).
7. La bellezza (beauty) is one of the cornerstones of Italian living. Sculptures, fountains, fashion, works of art, cars, food, sun-drenched landscapes, and winding streets all reflect this sentiment. Maintaining a good appearance, dressing with pride, and being well groomed are ways that couples signal their sense of personal well-being and keep each other attracted as a gesture of love and respect.
8. Il brivido della caccia (the thrill of the chase) is what instigates the connection between couples. Once the love interest is captured, passion and commitment only continue to grow for years to come. “It’s all about conquering, but then you realize to value what you have found within the person you love and there is no more hunting,” describes Luca, 33, engaged.
9. Le conversazioni intime (intimate conversations) are some of the most important exchanges between couples. Whether discussing the events of the day, the beauty and suffering of life, sweet nothings, or sharing names of affection such as “amore mio” (my love), Italians understand the importance of verbal communication as means to strengthen their bonds.
10. I segreti dell’amore (the secrets of love) are described by Ester, 53, married 25 years. “The secrets to creating a long lasting relationship are founded on creating a loving home through patience, understanding, and constructing each day together. It’s about having full trust within each other.”
11. Ti amo e ti voglio bene (I love you and I want well for you) are two expressions of “I love you” that can have two very different meanings. “Ti amo is said for the woman or man of your life. It’s a profound and unbreakable love. “’Ti voglio bene’ can be used both romantically and platonically to express sincere affection to someone dear,” explained Ezio, 76, married 48 years.
Advice: instead of saying “I love you,” try whispering “ti amo” in your loved one’s ear and see what happens.