When a nation’s scientists conclude that the best way to lose weight is to fall in love, and the former Prime Minister himself scribes an album of love ballads between governing duties, you know you’re dealing with a culture that doesn’t kid around when it comes to amore. Where else but Italia would a common priest dare to ask the Pope to change Cannon Law because he had fallen in love and doesn’t want to hide it? Where else would a 71 year-old woman be in hot demand to pose nude for the classic Pirelli pinup calendar? The aforementioned figures are those of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Monterosso parish priest Don Sante Sguotti, and the actress who defies age and says she owes it all to spaghetti, Sophia Loren. Even Roma spelled backwards says “amore”.
Renowned Italian journalist Luigi Barzini once described his birthplace as a land where foreign men “lose all power of coherent speech and judgment”, so bewitching is the way an Italian woman sways, dresses, or smiles cryptically to herself in a crowed café’. And foreign women put Italy on their list of places to see before they die, not so much for the chance to visit yet another museum, as for the hope of coming under the spell of an Italian man’s charm, tenderness, boldness, and notorious capacity to please.
So what makes love come so easily to Italians? And how can you connect to the Italian archetype that will make love come more easily to you? Simply put, Italians make romance a priority. Amore looms everywhere in the Bel Paese. Just try walking past the café’s on the periphery of Rome’s Piazza Navona without being swept into the energy of lovers’ gazing intently into each others’ eyes over a crisp morning brioche and steaming cappuccino. See if you can avoid the electricity that courses through the coastal village of Praiano, where airborne pheromones mix with innocent flirtations to give its emerald framed beaches a magic beyond mere aesthetic charm. In every nook and cranny along and atop the cobble stone roads of the ancient Roman Empire is the immutable dynamic of boy gets girl, girl keeps boy, and love blossoms eternal.
When was the last time you filled your life with romance? If it’s been a while, start by making each day a sensual experience. Italy’s preoccupation with the senses delighted Stendahl, whose philosophy held that passionate people derive their happiness from the emotion of their sensual experiences. Our Italian forefathers were just as emotional about the colors, smells, texture, and tastes of simple daily pleasures as they were about our foremothers—a clue that true romance starts from within. So set a fragrant flower on the table tonight. Let the flavor of a drop of wine linger on your tongue. Whisper Ti Amo, Amore mio to that special someone in your life. You have the stuff to make romance happen.
(this post is adapted from a column I wrote for The Italian Tribune)