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  • Why Are Italians Unafraid of Going Naked in Public?
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    FEBRUARY 29, 2004 -- Italians -- and other Europeans -- are laughing at Americans as they continue to watch the many aftershocks of Janet Jackson baring her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show nearly a month ago. Much more comfortable with sexuality and the human form, Italians don't mind a little nudity now and then. Here are the top 5 reasons why:

    5. Italy has a long history of revering nakedness. From Botticelli babes to Michelangelo's David, Italian artists have always paid tribute to the human form. Italians are unashamed of their naked bodies and, in fact, see them as God's greatest masterpiece. Amen!

    4. Bare breasted women are beautiful but not bold. In a country where the beloved mammas breast feed in public and topless sunbathing is commonplace, bare breasts just don't shock people. Italian version of People magazine often feature photos of women celebrities on the beach without bikini tops. Once a woman's shirt comes off, other things might come off, too. And Italian men, for the most part, aren't complaining about that. The exception: Soccer player Christian Vieri, who reportedly was upset with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis for modeling in the nude.

    3. Sex sells. Canalis says taking her top off helps her career, and even her man Vieri can't stop her. She knows that nudie pictures drive the sales of calendars and even fashion. (Many of the models in the fashion shows wore only bottoms on the catwalk recently.) Calendar girls like Canalis and movie star Sabrina Ferilli have made lots of money taking off their clothes. And a woman's bare skin makes men think of sex, which apparently makes them willing to buy things. Even Italian airline Alitalia has an advertising campaign featuring a man's suit-covered legs and a woman's bare legs under a table inching toward one another to suggest that travelers might have some fun with natives. The Italian motto, "sex it up and you'll make a sale," is not really new, even to Americans. What is refreshing and different is that Italians are more honest about their agenda.

    2. Beloved soccer players set the standard. Vieri may have had a problem with Canalis stripping for the camera - but he didn't mind doing it himself. A quick Google search of your favorite Italian soccer player's name is likely to turn up a naked picture of him from a calendar, a magazine photo spread or, in the case of Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, the locker room. With the exception of the locker-room candid, the pictures are usually quite tasteful and even artistic. For goodness sake, you can find entire indexes of these shots at fan sites and sometimes even on a player's official Web site. (I only know this because I was doing research for this article - I swear!) Seeing famous athletes naked might be surprising for Americans, who can't even fathom asking the likes of New York Yankee Derek Jeter to be a Playgirl centerfold. Holy cow!

    And the final reason is the simplest of all -

    1. Italians look better in the buff. Or at least they think they do. And that is all that matters.

    What do you think? Send me your thoughts at


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