Relationships (with family, friends, crushes and spouses)
"Our Paesani" is a column written by Francesca Di Meglio. Its purpose is to help bridge the gap between Italians in Italy and Italians throughout the world.
3 Winning Tips from Latin Lovers
You can have the power of Zia Concettina -- and my other Italian relatives. Whether you are as inexperienced as Britney pre-Justin or knocking your head against the bed post a la' Sex and the City's Samantha, you can learn a trick or two from my people.
6 Lessons Learned: What Do Our Italian Friends Teach Us?
Any journey to another country is an education. I try to keep pen and paper nearby whenever I go to Italy, so I can keep track of all the things I am learning. Here's a peek - just a peek - at what my Italian friends and family have taught me so far.
20 Signs Your Italian Man is a Mamma's Boy
So, how do you know you're in the presence of an Italian mamma's boy? Well, if he's Italian and breathing, you can pretty much bet on it. However, in honor of Mother's Day, which Italians and Americans alike will celebrate on May 8 in 2011, I've come up with this handy and humorous - if I do say so myself - list of signs that your Italian man is in love with his mammina. After all, if we can't laugh at ourselves, then who can we laugh at?
Can't We All Just Get Along? How to Get to Know Your Italian Relatives Better
Since I started writing this column, readers from all over the world have been sharing stories of how they discovered their Italian roots. But a few too many wrote to say that they were disappointed because language barriers, cultural differences and stereotypes prevented them from developing a lasting bond. Here, some tips on what you can do to improve your own personal foreign relations.
Case Study: The Stubborn Italian Man
I've sung the praises of Italian men before. And many of you have written to me to do the same over the years. But nobody's perfect. Even Italian men - a group I collectively refer to as God's gift to women - have their flaws. Lately, I've been noticing one major one. Many of them, especially those from the south, are stubborn as the mules they once rode in the Italian hills.
It's easy to get lost in the arms of Italy - and an Italian. But modernity and a quickly evolving country are making l'amore downright complicated.
A Day in the Life of an Italian Mamma
Being a mom is hard work, no matter where you are. And women of every color, creed, and culture tend to put far too much pressure on themselves to do the impossible, be perfect and raise perfect people. I am no exception, and my type-A tendencies aren't helping matters. But being a mamma in southern Italy, especially when you come from somewhere else, is even more of a challenge.
Divorce, Italian Style
I have noticed more couples being "separato in casa" or "separated in the house." This means that the couple agrees to pursue other relationships and live separate lives but neither leaves the house. It seems grueling to me. In some cases, the one spouse has cheated and is already with another person, and the ex-spouse has to witness this unfolding newer relationship.
Expressing Your Love in Italian
So, when someone declares his or her love in Italian, you are likely to swoon. In fact, if you're looking for a way to conquer someone's heart, Italian wins. The first step, however, is understanding exactly what you want to say. The language is far more explicit about love than English.
How to Impress Your Italian Mother-in-Law
The Italian mamma has quite the reputation the world over. One mention of her name and you imagine a woman whose uniform is an apron, wielding a wooden spoon, and force feeding you pasta. Her children are her whole world and pity the fool who tries to come between her and them. Now, you find yourself in the position of being just that fool. You have fallen in love with an Italian, things are getting serious (or maybe you've already married), and you need to win mamma's heart next. Are you up for the challenge?
Don't Be Blinded By Italian Men
Years ago, I wrote a column for ItaliansRus.com about why Italian men are so alluring to women the world over. And many people followed my courtship and now marriage to my husband Antonio Gerenini, an Italian, through my writing. Still today, women write to me about that article on Italian men, and they ask me how to snag an Italian native. But some readers have the wrong idea about Italian men and my expertise, and I'd like to set the record straight once and for all.
Family Still Means Something to Italians
Some people say that the big extended Italian family seated around the table on Sunday afternoon is a dead cliché that might never have truly existed. But I'm here to say that the big Italian family that is always together is alive and well - in my home and in Italy.
Find a Good Italian Man
I just finished responding to yet another letter from one of you – readers of ItaliansRus – about Italian men. Seven years after writing an article about why so many women are attracted to Italian men, I'm still hearing from you about this topic. Most of you want advice on how to get an Italian man to fall in love with you. Most of you don't care if this Italian man is known to cheat on his girlfriend or wife or even if he's currently in a relationship or marriage. That's wrong. That's not the kind of Italian man I was revering and discussing in that article. I still wish you'd all look for GOOD Italian men.
5 Lessons from Your Italian Mammas
Italian kids get an education at home from their mammas long before they ever make it into a classroom. This is not the 2+2=4 variety of smarts. I'm talking about nitty-gritty stuff of life information. Here are 5 lessons your Italian Mamma wants you to have.
The Gift of Second Chances
Italy, especially the island of Ischia, which is off the coast of Naples and is the home of my ancestors, was once my happy place. I loved everything about it – the history, the sport (calcio), the people, the beauty. I socked away money to plan trips and came up with excuses to visit my relatives in the homeland. I couldn't understand why my grandparents on both sides (and my father, who was born in Ischia) would ever decide to leave. My grandfather Rocco told me he only ever returned to the island to see his mother and relatives, otherwise he would have never looked back. I was baffled.
The Greatest Italian Generation
Today I witnessed the greatness of old-school Italians once again. These are the people who went all over the world in the years after World War II, when Italy as a country was struggling to get back on its feet. They came from an economy based on agriculture or fishing. They could work the land, raise and kill livestock, and work harder than anyone you've ever known.
How Nonna Helps You Stand Tall?
Nonna Francesca - buon' anima - was fierce and spunky. She was our leader, even though she let her husband, Nonno Giovanni Battista, think he was in charge. Now that I am older, I can truly appreciate the presence she had when she walked into a room self-assured and all-knowing.
How to Be a Good Host to Italians
My husband never seems to travel alone. He brings friends and family to our American home all the time. In fact, we just returned from bringing yet another Italian friend to the airport after a weeklong stay at our place. My family jokingly calls our house the bed and breakfast. But many Italians, especially southern Italians, can be set in their ways. When they travel to other countries, things can get tricky. Now that I've become an expert in hosting Italian guests, I'm going to share my tips and tricks.
How to Be a Latin Lover
Not everyone is lucky enough to be born a decent Latin lover. But you can train yourself to be one. Here's a guide on how to be as successful courting women as any Italian man.
How to Date in Italy
While it's true that love is held in high regard in the land of the lovers, dating is very similar to what you'd expect from other Western countries, including the United States. There are, however, a few noteworthy differences. Here's what you need to know about dating in Italy.
How to Deal with Your Jealous Italian Love
I've written about the allure of the Italian man and woman, Italian beliefs on marriage, and even Italian weddings. But there's one dirty little secret that almost all Italian couples face: jealousy is often one of the biggest challenges to the Italian romance. Here, you'll discover why this is a problem for Italian couples - and what you can do about it.
How to Maximize Your Relationship with the Nonni
Grandparents the world over are special. But Italian grandparents – better known as nonni – have that little something extra. It's hard to pinpoint. But they have a sparkle in their eye, a way with a wooden spoon, and conserva in the cupboard at all times. Here's what you need to do to maximize whatever time you have with the nonni.
Ischia, Italy: With My Ancestors
Discover how one Italian American is getting through the summer living in Italy where her family was born.
Is the Latin Lover Lost?
Cassanova gave Italian men a reputation for being able to court and woo women like no other group. Along with other Latin men, Italians became known for their sensuality and sexiness. Women the world over fell in love – or at least in lust – with them. In fact, I wrote a story about why women love Italian men for this column many moons ago, and I still get letters about once a week from women who couldn't agree more. Still, Italians in Italy are wondering whether the Latin Lover is a relic. They are starting to see a young generation that is not nearly as smooth as those Italians of the past. A recent television program in Italy posed the question, "Is the Latin Lover dead?" Here is an outline of the reasons some people are offering for believing the Latin Lover is gone forever.
Italian Family Feuds
Discovering the root of what causes these fights is one way to either seek solutions or at least understand the heart of the fire that is flaming your feud. Here are the major reasons most Italian families feud.
The Italian Guide to Parenting
My nearly 3-year-old son and I have lived in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples in Italy, periodically during his short life. And I regularly hear from those strangers in the strada. I could write a book of rules based on their comments. But I won't bother. I'll boil it down to the most important, so you know what to expect. Keep in mind that this is meant to be humorous so I'm exaggerating. Sort of. Not really.
An Italian Love Dictionary
Italian is a romance language and there are few things more romantic than whispering sweet nothings to your beloved in Italian. It sounds like poetry even when you're saying something mundane. Speaking in Italian can make you feel more sophisticated and a hell of a lot sexier.
Italian Lovers - The Best in the World
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).
Italian Men: Why Women Can't Get Enough of Them?
Why do women find Italian men atractive? Just what is the appeal? Here are five traits, as if you needed all five, that will have you pining for a paesano.
Italian Mothers Must Take Charge
Like Americans, on the second Sunday in May, Italians celebrate their mothers by giving her a day off from cooking and cleaning and offering her gifts like flowers and candy. But the Italian man's devotion to his mamma could seriously threaten Italy's future. Here's what you need to know.
Italian Songs for Mamma
Italian moms tend to have a tight bond with their sons. That's why when many Italian men get married, their moms tend to be a bit sad. But good Italian boys never forget their mamma - and they are sure to reassure her on their wedding day. Often, Italians living abroad - especially in the United States, where it's tradition for the groom to dance with his mother at the wedding - call on Italian songs to say what's on their mind. Indeed, I'm not sure any other country in the world can count so many songs that praise mommy on their top 40 lists, but Italy sure can. Here are some of Italy's most popular songs about le mamme.
Italians Love New York
Living right outside of New York City can make you jaded and unappreciative of your surroundings. When confronted with the same scenery every day - even if it's the magnificent skyline of the city that never sleeps - it's easy to take it for granted. But every time relatives or friends visit me from Italy, I'm reminded of the magnificence of my place in the world.
Italy Stays with an Immigrant Forever In Loving Memory of Michele Di Meglio
The eldest son, a pioneer, died at 1:20 a.m. or so on Saturday morning. He was strong and rugged - a hunter and gatherer in the literal sense. The last of the Italian cowboys. It was his brave heart that brought one branch of my family - the Di Meglios - from the small island of Ischia, off the coast of Napoli, to the big, burly United States. He was my Zio Michele. His recent passing proves that Italians might physically leave Italy but their first culture lives on in their hearts and minds to the very last moment.
Italy's Cheating Hearts
Many a woman has written to me to ask if Italian men cheat. Some women already know the answer and ask me why they cheat. I don't know if they cheat more than other men do, but the perception certainly is that Italian men can not be faithful. A completely unscientific poll I posted on my Web site showed that the majority of you thought Italians had more affairs than others. The events that have recently unfolded in Italy are only making the stereotype seem real.
Italy's Marriage Problem
Marriage in Italy is going out of style. It's been happening for sometime now. New opportunities for women, mothers sickly devoted to their sons, and the rising cost of raising a family have contributed to this serious problem. Some have called it a crisis. Maybe our worries are exaggerated. A little analysis might calm our nerves about the impending death of marriage in Italy.
Living in Ischia, Italy and New Jersey, U.S.A.
On my new Web site, discover my life and work as I try to maintain a career and marriage while living in Italy and the United States.
Love, Italian Style, Part 1: Does Your Love Life Make You More Italian?
This is the introduction to a series of stories called "Love, Italian Style." Occasionally, as part of this column, I will write articles to help you understand how Italian beliefs about dating, marriage and sex influence your life - even if you live abroad and even as Italian attitudes about love evolve. At the end of this article, you can find out how you can help with the research.
Love, Italian Style, Part 2: Old-Fashioned Romance Lives in Italy
Italians seem to feel as though being the "world's greatest lovers" is their obligation, even part of
their civic duty. On Valentine's Day, Arcigay, a group that fights for the rights of homosexuals, organized a kissing contest for gays and heterosexuals in Roma's Piazza Farnese. The idea was to get attention for the cause but also to try and break the Guiness world record, currently held by Chile, for number of couples kissing at once. Call it the perfect publicity stunt. Who would argue with Italians holding the title of kissing champions?
Love, Italian Style, Part 3: 5 Ways to Win Over an Italian Man
As the Italian national players gave up a beautifully executed one to nil lead against Sweden in the last 10 minutes of a Euro 2004 game last week, they forced me to ask: Are Italian men weak? Are they too sensitive? Do they always have trouble finishing the job? But, in a matter of moments, all doubt was eliminated. Sweaty, dirty, disillusioned - and they still looked good. With one look, the boys in blue - from Alessandro Nesta to Gianluca Zambrotta - can send women into a frenzy. It's not just because they're hot. It's because they're resilient.
Love, Italian Style, Part 4: What Italian Women Want In Their Men
Men the world over have been hot for Italian women ever since Sophia Loren made her way from Pozzuoli to Hollywood. Screen sirens -- from Gina Lollobrigida to Monica Bellucci -- have been turning heads and giving Italian women the mystique and lore necessary to dominate man's thoughts. The Italian woman is every man's fantasy because she is sexy and nurturing, strong and vulnerable, serious and playful. Here, four ways to win her heart.
Love, Italian Style, Part 5: Why I Fell in Love with an Italian Man
I've taken my own advice - and fallen head-over-heels in love with an Italian man. Antonio Gerenini, 33, is a native of Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples where my own family roots lie. The time has come for me to share my reasons for loving Antonio. The women who have been writing to me for advice about snagging one of Italy's finest will be able to gain some insight into the Italian male psyche. And, perhaps, Mr. Antonio will finally believe that he truly has won my heart. These are just some of the reasons why I'm sure he's the one.
Love, Italian Style, Part 6: How to Keep in Touch with Your Long Distance Love
About 4,500 miles lies between my boyfriend Antonio Gerenini and me. But that hasn't stopped us from seeing each other every night for the first year of our courtship. At 6 p.m., which is quitting time for me in New Jersey and midnight in Ischia, the Neapolitan island in Italy where Antonio lives, I scoot over from my company computer to my personal laptop. After logging onto an instant messenger service, I invite Antonio to virtually go on a date, a possibility thanks to our handy webcams. We talk about everything – from childhood memories to our dreams for the future. All the while, I can gaze into Antonio's glorious green eyes almost as if he were sitting right in front of me.
Making Your Children Italian
Teaching children about who they are and where they come from is tough for anyone, but it's even tougher for the children and grandchildren of immigrants and ex-patriots. How do you teach your children about their heritage? How do
you make your kids Italian even if you live oceans away?
Mammas and Their Sons
Italian mammas have been on my mind lately. After spending a few weeks in Ischia with my boyfriend Antonio and his mamma Ilia, I returned home to observe my soon-to-be-married brother John and our mamma Regina. The dynamic between mothers and sons has always been the stuff of novels - and deep psychological analysis in some cases. But the rapport is usually even more profound for Italians.
Marry into an Italian Family
My parents went to a wedding last night with an Italian bride and an American groom. It got me thinking about how lucky most people are when they marry into a nice Italian family. Don't bother sending me e-mails about the bad seeds among us and how terrible your Italian mother-in-law is. I know that there is bad in every group. But, in general, the southern Italian families I know are lovable, strong in quantity and quality, and loyal to their brood.
Meet the Italian Family
Outsiders often misunderstand Italian families. For starters, some people think "Italian families" refer only to the mafia. That statement couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Italian families have nothing to do with the mafia and look nothing like a "crime family." In many ways, the Italian family is like any other. But there are few things that make Italian families unique and special - and that's what leads to the misunderstanding.
The Myth of Bilingual Babies
Conventional wisdom tells us that young children are like sponges. As a result, we believe they are suited to learning more than one language from the get go. You might have even had a doctor tell you to speak one language to your baby, while your spouse speaks another to get the ball rolling.
Nostalgic about Spring
Spring is in the air, which means I'm waxing nostalgic about my family of Italian peasants. Sure, I'm a college grad who works from the comfort of her own home and writes for a living. But I come from a people with humble beginnings. On the island of Ischia, both sides of my family grew grapes, made wine, sold vegetables they grew from various plots of land that they saved up to purchase, and did whatever they had to do to get food on the table.
Pet Appeal: The Difference Between How Italians and Americans Love Their Pets
For the last week, my Italian husband Antonio and I have been staying with my sister at our home in Florida. My sister, who works with birds at Disney's Animal Kingdom, has two roommates and they live with a ring-neck dove, two dogs, and a cat. It's a zoo at home and at work for little sister. Observing my Italian husband with all the pets shows the difference between how Americans treat their domesticated animals and how Italians treat theirs.
Planning an Italian Wedding in Italy?
I'm back in Ischia, Italy, home of my ancestors and my soon-to-be husband Antonio. With just a few weeks until our Italian wedding ceremony, I spent the weekened fulfilling the duties of an Italian bride. Here are some must-have tips for brides and grooms who want to get through a wedding in the homeland.
Raising an Italian Man
On a warm day at the end of September, in the early hours of the morning, I gave birth to my first child, a son. Although I'm an American, I'm a child of an Italian immigrant, and so is my mother. My blood is 100 percent Italian, and we've always had close ties to the Homeland. In fact, I spent so much time in Italy that I ended up marrying a native Italian, who still lives between the United States and Italy three years after the wedding. Together, we made this Italian baby, who now needs to be taught what it is to become an Italian man.
Requirements for Getting Married in Italy
As many of you know, I recently gave "parole" or "word", which means I technically got married in the civil service that is required ahead of a church wedding in Italy. When I got engaged to my fiancé Antonio Gerenini, a native of Ischia in Naples, Italy, I had no idea what kind of work lay ahead for me. There are all sorts of documents and papers that need to be prepared for foreigners before they can legally marry in Italy.
Searching for Valentine
My love is an Italian, and we live continents apart. My love is hard work. My love can be as pig headed as I. My love argues with as much passion as he dotes. My love makes me weak and crazy and sometimes even sick. My love is too powerful. My love can whisk me away with just one look. My love shows me my future in his eyes. My love won't celebrate Valentine's Day on principle. My love is just what I wanted – and ironically I have Saint Valentine to thank.
Seeing America through Italian Eyes
My boyfriend Antonio and my cousin Fausto came from Ischia, a small island in the Gulf of Napoli, to visit me. Before they returned home on December 20, they had been to the top of the Empire State Building, witnessed the emptiness of Ground Zero, visited the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, passed through Little Italy, experienced an Italian American Thanksgiving, and rode Space Mountain at Disney World in Florida. For me, however, the most interesting part of their journey was the chance to see my America - and Americans - through Italian eyes. Here's some of what I observed.
7 Ways to Be Sexy Like an Italian
Some stereotypes exist for a reason. They ring of truth. Let's face it, the Latin lover is no myth. He (or she for that matter) exists. Many an Italian fulfills the prophecy of oozing sexiness and tempting the hearts – not to mention other parts – of all who encounter them. It doesn't mean they have to bed everyone who shows interest. All right, all right, some of them do sleep with the world; I admitted the stereotype rings of truth, didn't I? Of course, now you want to be as sexy as an Italian, too. Well, okay. Here are some ways to pull it off.
6 Facts about Dating in Italy
Finding love in Italy is as hard as it is anywhere else. But many are drawn to the Latin lovers, particularly in the southern part of the country, where the men still have swagger and the women are sultry. Before you call your zia in Italy to start playing matchmaker for you, learn these 6 facts about the single scene in the homeland.
Stuff Our Italian Fathers Say
The Italian father is a unique breed. He's part protective lion, king of the jungle and part teddy bear, cub of mamma. One of the characteristics that most Italian fathers have is their willingness to say whatever is on their mind, often without consideration for the consequences. We say, "All the better." These outburts bring us laughter and usually make our Italian fathers all the more charming. Here is a list of stuff our Italian fathers say.
10 Reasons Children of Italians Need a Support Group
As an American raised in a home with Italian parents, including my father, who was born in Ischia, Italy, I have always felt a little different than my peers. After spending nine months in my father's native Ischia (where my husband is also a native), I started to realize children of Italians the world over share a common experience that no one else can quite understand. You have to be in the trenches to know what the war is really like. Even though Italian mammas and papas love their children with all their heart, they are often downright, ding-dong crazy. Sometimes, I think, it's the love that brings on the insanity. Here are the 10 reasons children of Italians need a support group.
10 Reasons Italian Mammas are the Best
Italian mammas are the coolest around. They worship at the altar of you. Most of them will continue to cook and clean for you (and your spouse and kids) long after you leave the nest. They even do laundry, folks! And they will kick you know what in your defense at a moment's notice. But that's just the tip of the Boot. Here are 10 other reasons they're the best.
3 Reasons We Still Can't Get Enough of Italian Men
Italian men seem to enchant women the world over. I first wrote about this phenomenon more than a decade ago, and it is still as true as ever. Of course, the notion of the Latin lover luring women with charm and wit is nothing new. But what is it about our men that is so attractive to women of different races, religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds? Seriously, I receive emails about once a week from women, who live in every corner of the Earth, who want to know more about meeting, dating, bedding, and marrying Italian men.
A Tribute to Italian Families
As I was packing my luggage for my trip to Italy (I leave this afternoon), I thought about the relatives I would be seeing in Ischia - and the ones in the United States who would be spending Easter without me. Most Italian families are like any other with their share of happiness and sadness, good and evil, love and war. Mine is no different. I always try to explain this to the babies born into the family. When one of my cousins and his wife had their first daughter, I wrote this poem for her. I thought I would share it with all of you as a tribute to my family - and yours.
25 Ways to Woo an Italian Man
Many readers continue to get in touch with me about a story I wrote more than four years ago about Italian men. Most of the people who write to me are women trying to win the heart of an Italian man. Finally, I decided that it was time to write an article on how to do just that. Some of these tips will serve you well in any relationship. Of course, some of these suggestions are based on generalizations about Italian men; you might want to modify the list for your unique Italian man. If you want to get started, read on to discover 25 ways to woo an Italian man.
What an Italian Man Thinks of American Women
Want to get inside the Italian man's head? Well, I've got the book for you. No Sex in the City (Cairo Publishing, 2006) by Mauro Suttora turns the tables on the American television show Sex in the City, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie, who - along with her three best girlfriends - searched for love in New York City. Instead, Suttora recounts how he, an Italian man separated from his wife, moves to New York City to work as a journalist - and attract Sex in the City-type women.
What Does Ti Amo Really Mean?
Americans have the phrase "I love you" to indicate their sentiments for their puppies, children, relatives and lovers. The English language has one of the biggest vocabularies in the world and, yet, there is just one phrase used to indicate a variety of sentiments – from the sweet devotion a mother has for her baby to the passionate, sexual feelings lovers have for one another. The Italians are a little more explicit than English-language speakers. There's "Ti voglio bene" or "I want you well" for puppies, children and family and "Ti amo" for when you're deeply in love. The difference between these two short phrases and the meaning behind each will surprise you.