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Love Lessons from a Popular Italian Soap Opera
by Francesca Di Meglio
SEPTEMBER 19, 2004 - This week marked the season premiere of the hit Italian soap opera Un Posto al Sole, which translates to A Place in the Sun. That sun is scorching hot with fans from Italy to Australia and any other region where Italians can catch their favorite drama. Thanks to a combination of great casting, intriguing and unexpected plots and the beautiful Neapolitan setting, Un Posto al Sole has been a hit since it bowed in 1996. Like many of its American counterparts, the show is a microcosm of an exaggerated world where everyone you live near is your friend, enemy, lover or more than one of those things. But keen observers of the show can - and do - learn about love, sex and relationships. Here's what I have noticed since becoming addicted to Un Posto al Sole:
You can cheat on someone without having sex: Last season saw the departure of Assunta, wife to Guido, mother to Vittorio and friend to everyone. She was a pudgy but beautiful woman who always did the right thing - until she went to Ischia with her sister and son for the summer. There, she met the handsome Pasquale (played by Italian supermodel Walter Nudo) and began a serious flirtation. For many months, she and Pasquale were mere friends who had never even shared a kiss. But he dominated her thoughts and won her heart. As a result, Assunta left Guido heartbroken and alone. Similarly, last season Giulia Poggi, a respectable social worker with an adult daughter Angela and an adopted son Niko, began a friendship with the very rich and charming Arturo Zanetti, much to the chagrin of her husband Renato. Giulia didn't really act on her emotions until she was separated from Renato, but her mind and soul were already with Zanetti. She would share lunches with him, and he bought her little gifts. In her eyes, you could see which man she was choosing. Her choice would have far more serious consequences than Assunta's. Today, Arturo is dead and Renato is on the run because he is the main suspect for his murder.
Bad girls never ever win: The prime example of this comes in the form of Marina Giordano. Since her arrival, she has been seen as the Cruella Deville of the palazzo, a social climber with no sense of morals. Most of the time, she proves to be a selfish mother to the very beautiful Elena. She tried to woo a young Filippo into being her sugar daddy. Marina aided Roberto Ferri in a plot to make Eleonora, the mother of his child, look crazy, so he can get custody of their deaf son. And, in the end, she ended up having a terrible car accident that nearly killed her and disfigured her face. Roberto, who had been her lover, turned on her as their plot to get his son began unraveling.
Love blinds you - sometimes, literally: For years now, Filippo, who is Roberto's son, has been in love with his father's girlfriend Eleonora. Eleonora was, for a long time, faithful and devoted to Roberto even though he put out many red flags - not the least of which was raping her and getting her pregnant. The fact of the matter is that all three of these people should be seeing psychiatrists and not each other. But love has blinded them to their own stupidity. In the meantime, Carmen, a sweet young girl, fell in love with Filippo. And for a time, he fought his feelings for Eleonora and tried to make a go of it with Carmen. Then, as he was trying to help Eleonora at a dinner party, Carmen's ex-boyfriend Giuseppe took them all hostage. In the end, Carmen gets shot and temporarily blinded. When her eyesight returns, she's afraid to tell Filippo because she thinks she might lose him. As a result, she gets intertwined in Marina and Roberto's crazy plot to make Eleonora look like an unfit mother. Through it all, Carmen was blinded to the fact that Filippo was never hers; he was always with Eleonora, even if only in his mind. Carmen was also blinded to the fact that the more she lied and worked against Eleonora, the less genuine she was in loving Filippo.
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