Aside from wearing custom-made leather shoes; nurturing a secret love of 50s Neapolitan songs; and insisting on pasta for every meal, Italian boyfriends introduce you to novelties like bidets, inquisitive family members and the lost art of romance. Here are more signs you’ll be familiar with if you’re lucky enough to date an Italian man.
1.You know ALL the swear words.
You may still have absolutely no idea how to use those chameleon pronouns ‘ne’ and ‘ci’, but you can at least be proud of your ever-expanding vocabulary.
2. There are a lot of weddings.
And a lot of cousins. Especially if he is from the south. Apparently, third-cousin-twice-removed-Giuseppe would be extremely offended if you didn’t drive six hours down the Boot to celebrate his special day.
3. You know you’d have to knock him out in order to actually pay for anything.
A mixture of generosity and antiquated chivalry means Italian men have a knee jerk reaction to paying for women. While you know it’s well meant, that feminist voice in your head doesn’t like it. And you can’t expect any support from the cashiers. You can be waving your money in the barista’s face but he’ll still wait as your boyfriend leisurely extracts his wallet.
4. You go on holiday a lot … to Italy.
He may have odd paranoias about flying; refuse to visit any country which doesn’t have the bidet; or simply be of the mindset that, “Italy has it all so why go anywhere else?”
5. He’s convinced you that wearing matching Timberlands is cute.
Your winter couple staples are matching dark blue coats with fluffy fur around the hood, some designer sunglasses, and beige Timberland boots, which are probably the first requirement for Italian citizenship.
6. He never makes a perfect cup of tea.
But he does bring it to you in bed in the morning, accompanied by a cookie which you don’t really want because that’s clearly not breakfast food, but which you eat anyway because of the sweet gesture.
7. He knows how to look good for an occasion.
With at least 16 minutely-different shades of light blue shirts in his wardrobe, he’s always well equipped to wage war on your heart. Barely has the word ‘wedding’ been spoken, and he’s in an ab-hugging suit and applying the hair gel.
8. Your fridge is full of out-of-date food.
Because he believes that salmonella does not exist. Mold can be scraped off cheese; cream gone off re-named sour cream, and stale bread magically revived in the oven.
9. Your first date was a world class risotto restaurant, your second a stroll past some famous historic monuments and your third a ‘drive’ in a Fiat 500…
…if you know what I mean.
10. He’s happy to fulfill your Roman Holiday dreams.
Your request for a Vespa ride is met with boyish enthusiasm and nostalgic reminiscing about broken bones; day trips involve throwing away the guidebook and getting to know the locals over several glasses of wine, and dance lessons which bring out his Latin ability to move to a rhythm without causing painful embarrassment or laughter.
11. Cooking for him requires serious self-confidence.
At best, you’ll receive vague compliments like, “It’s strange but good.” At worst, you’ll get the damning put down, “It’s not how my Nonna makes it.” You’re better off sticking to making international dishes, as he usually hasn’t tried them before, so he can’t be picky about the amount of onion you use, or complain that the ragù only cooked for 2 hours.
12. You get a lot of food gifts from his Mamma.
Partly it’s because of her innate generosity, but mainly it’s because she’s convinced you’re not feeding him properly. You regularly receive kilos of homemade pasta when she ‘accidentally’ makes too much; a whole dish of meatballs she just had left over; and a spare roast chicken that was going to waste.
13. You’ve got a second family from week one.
You understand early on why the word ‘privacy’ doesn’t exist in Italian, but his family adopt you as one of their own immediately — whether it’s his Mum recording 23-minute-long explanations on WhatsApp of how to make baccalà; or his grandmother trying to stuff 50 euro notes down your top because your boyfriend has refused to accept them.
14. You know if you marry him, you’ll be marrying Italy.
His love for Italy is only trumped by his love for his Nonna, so you know you’ll have to get used to him fawning over every vintage Fiat he sees; welling up at the sight of a steaming bowl of tortellini in brodo; and becoming disgruntled with any ‘Italian’ products that are actually made in China.