The Italian Man
Italian men are hot and sexy. They are romantic, great lovers, and they treat a lady like a princess. At least that’s what I thought when I was 13 and read teenage novels with titles such as “Ciao, Bella”. Now, traveling around Italy, I am seriously considering writing some angry letters to the writers of these books. How dare them deceive me like that? Have they even been to Italy??? How dare them paint the image of the perfect southern European lover when it is all lies, lies, lies? Yes, I have a boyfriend and I am not looking for a love affair. I am of course speaking only out of pure anthropological interest. But still. Which girl doesn’t like to look at handsome men? Especially if she has been sold the story of the Italian Adonis for so long. Well, if you ever believed the fairy tale of il bello italiano, let me tell ya girls (and boys), forget it! If these men exist, they must be hiding in a very special place because I have not seen them so far. I am not saying Italian men are ugly, but … well … they are just not real men. And no, this is not the blog entry where I am talking about cultural prejudices of gender roles nor the blog entry where I am trying to be as scientifically objective as possible, nor the blog entry where I mention all the exceptions to the rule (that I am sure exist!). This is the blog entry where I will be as straight forward, basic and honest as a simple pizza Margherita. I think any man in the world can be, do and wear whatever he wants if it makes him happy. BUT don’t ever try to convince me again that the Italian man is the man. In two weeks of intensive watching and observing, this is what I found:
- I have seen Italian men with unbuttoned shirts, showing their hairy chests and their beer bellies – wearing a pink shirt with a floral print.
- I have seen Italian men wear shirts that say: Mamma, Mamma e solo Mamma (translation: I am 35 years old, and I am still living with my parents).
- I have seen Italian stare intently into their Vespa mirrors while styling their hair.
- I have seen Italian men run frantically to the bathroom to make sure their make-up is still perfect.
- I have heard Italian men talk to their mothers on the phone for hours (!!!) at parties / in buses / on the street / in restaurants / while looking into a Vespa mirror and fixing their hair.
- I have seen Italian men care more about a broken finger nail than about holding hands with their girlfriend.
- I have heard Italian men talk without shame about their last pedicure appointment.
And last but no least:
- I have seen 4 out of 5 Italian men wear a Justin Bieber haircut with pride.
So you tell me: Where have all the real Italian men gone????
It was Saturday night and we wanted to see what Mostar’s nightlife was all about. “See”, because the night before we had already heard a good deal from our hostel room, so we imagined that on a Saturday night the streets to be packed with partygoers. Well, they were … empty. A few tourists going back home after dinner, some older men scattered about the cafés – that was it. Where were the bars? Had we just missed the party zone? We looked and walked and searched – but nothing. Not even a remote hint of an establishment that was reminiscent of a bar. Disappointed, we started heading back towards the hostel. When we heard the sounds of a live band from … yes, from a real bar! We were ecstatic. The bar was spread out over three floors, narrow spiral staircases leading from one floor to another. The band, four men in their 50s that seemed slightly drunk, was playing on the second floor with a cheering and singing crowd around them. We found the last free table on the last floor. It seemed like the perfect place for having one or two drinks before heading back to the hostel. Four hours and several drinks later, we found ourselves with our table companions, a British lad and a Polish girl, on the second floor playing, singing, clapping and dancing with the band and their friends that were so thrilled that we had joined their party that they ended up paying for all our drinks. Their tables were heavy under the glasses and bottles, the room foggy from the cigarette smoke, the wooden floor vibrating from the music and the dancing. Finally, at 4 AM we stumbled out of the bar, still not quite sure how all of this had happened. For our new Bosnian friends, it was probably just another typical Saturday night in Mostar.
I have come to understand that waiting around for buses, trains, ride shares, planes, boats, carriages, etc. are an essential part of backpacking, or traveling in general. While these experiences usually range from slightly to extremely boring, on rare occasions it can also be widely entertaining – provided there is a TV playing VH1’s “Classic Hits”. By “classic” VH1 seems to mean the 80s and “hits” include apparently the most random songs of that decade. However, I am infinitely grateful to this program, as it turns waiting around into great fun. I had completely forgotten HOW funny the 80s were, or to be more precise, music videos from the 80s: Guys with long hair dues and tons of make-up, girls with
absurd interesting short hair cuts (check out the bangs!), extreme shoulder pads and my favorite: jeans jackets that they seem to have borrowed from their boyfriends. Seriously, if you feel bored at work have some spare time, and want to laugh for a couple of minutes straight, watch some music videos from the 80s! To get you into the groove, check out one of my new faves: