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  • Italian Lovers - The Best in the World
    A close look at Italian couples throughout history proves that Italy knows how to love big
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    Descendents of Casanova, the Venetian author and philosopher famous for his contributions to the art of seduction, Italians are known as lovers full of passion, raw with sexiness. That's why the world has been fascinated by Italy's love stories throughout history - from the fictional (think Francesca and Paolo) to present-day hotties adored by the paparazzi (think George Clooney, who lives in Como, Italy, and Italian TV host Elisabetta Canalis).

    The one thing all these Italian couples have in common is that their relationships - even those that don't pass the test of time - are dripping with romance. Sometimes, the lovers' stories are downright scandalous. The fictional Francesca and Paolo, come from Dante's Inferno in the second level of hell. Francesca's husband killed her for having an affair with his brother Paolo. Modern-day lovers (real ones), such as Albano and Romina Powers, Gigi d'Alessio and Anna Tatangelo, and Luciano Pavarotti and Nicoletta Mantovani, have kept up the tradition of drama.

    There was Toto' with his Malafemmina, which is part of classic Italian pop culture now. Apparently, the song about a bad woman was about his wife who got revenge on his cheating heart by doing a little cheating herself. Tit for tat apparently goes way back. Albano and Powers made beautiful music together before breaking up at the height of their success, much to the chagrin of the Italian public, who appeared to always be rooting for them.

    Older Italian men, much like older men the world over, seem to have a penchant for younger women (hello Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi), which never ceases to shock people. Wooing his much younger protégé Tatangelo, d'Alessio broke up his first marriage to his childhood sweetheart. He and Tatangelo now have a child together. They're making beautiful music together, too, but their relationship definitely has its critics. Some people feel that d'Alessio took advantage of a vulnerable young girl; others think the young girl used her sexuality to get in with her mentor and create a power couple. Maybe it was just an undeniable love.

    Pavarotti, before d'Alessio, paved the way for older musicians taking younger women into their hearts when he broke up his longtime marriage. In his case, Pavarotti left Adua Veroni, his wife of 35 years, for Nicoletta Mantovani, a thirtysomething student who worked for him. Pavarotti and Mantovani later had children together and remained married until his death.

    When love stories aren't scandalous, they are either sweet or tragic. Italy has a little of both. It is, however, home to the most tragic love story of all time - Romeo and Giulietta. Anyone who has read of Shakespeare's young Italian lovers know that they fight their families to remain a couple (which is also very Italian of them), and end up committing suicide when they mistakenly think they can no longer be together.

    Probably the most famous story of unrequited love in the world also comes from Italy. Dante himself was enamored with Beatrice from the time he first saw her when he was nine and she was eight. Although he would not speak to her for another nine years, and they both married others who were chosen for them by their families, Dante's dreams and thoughts of Beatrice were a constant in his life. She inspired both his poem La Vita Nuova and La Commedia, in which only Beatrice could guide Dante to Heaven.

    Some Italian couples are simply sweet. They don't have to bring with them scandal or tragedy, nor does their love have to be unrequited. Many of them tend to come from the world of sport. There's the ex-captain of the winning Italian national soccer team Fabio Cannavaro and his childhood love Daniela, who are often photographed holding hands on the beach, playing with their children, and making googly eyes at one another years after the start of their relationship.

    One of the most darling couples in Italy is soccer star Roberto Baggio and his wife Andreina. He often tells the story of the 1994 World Cup, when he was not playing to his potential, the critics were on his back, and Italy was about to go home after only the Second Round. His wife was going to stay in Italy, but she came to the games, after all. When she walked into the stadium during that Second Round game, he finally scored and saved Italy's chances. He would outshine all the others until losing to Brazil in the World Cup final. But he wouldn't have pulled off all the previous heroics without his wife's presence.

    While it's true the Italians are charmers and sometimes that means they'll flit from hive to hive like a bee, they know how to love good and hard. These beautiful couples of Italy, both real and fictional, have been putting on a grand show for us for thousands of years now. At the center of these performances is love. They put love on a pedestal. Even fleeting affairs are filled with loving moments and tons of passion. We should all borrow that heat from the Italians and use it to pump up the passion in our lives. I suppose that is what the real dolce vita is. 

    Di Meglio is the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com, and you can read more about her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 1/10/2011

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