Part III: Doesn’t thet view make you horny?

Sex and Our City: the low-down on the Italian Stallion

Tova Piha
June 23, 2005

Italian men pat themselves on the back for having gotten the art of courting down, and not without good reason - they are, after all, known for their dexterity in this department across the globe., Meanwhile, in an effort to stay open-minded, you’ve finally put your dry, independent-girl wit and sense of humour on the backburner to make room for some good old fashioned, albeit saccharine to your palate, Italian-way, romantic courtship in your life., You play along with the charade of true love, even though you’re pretty sure that to him you’re nothing but an easy foreigner and that he’s banking on getting lucky tonight., You let him buy you dinner, you smile coyly when he tells you your eyes are beautiful, and you hold on tight as he zooms you around town on his Vespa (although this part you do love).

 

The thrilling ride ends all too soon in an elevated, secluded spot, overlooking a beautifully shimmering evening vista - the perfect place for a private, intimate make-out session under the stars., Except for the fact that it’s not exactly secluded, not really all that private., In fact, it seems as though you’re about to lock lips, and whatever else, in the company of about half of Florence., You realize that despite having promised yourself to play along, to let yourself be swept off your feet, the “park your car, pretend to look at the view, but really grope the girl and make-out” routine, which is a running joke on The Simpsons, is just not your thing., Maybe it’s just too high school, too sophomoric, or perhaps what’s really bothering you are the crowds.

 

Indeed, it seems as though Italian men, historically known for their romantic panache, have managed to take the romance out of pretty lookout point, 50’s style, ever-so-tender and romantic kissing., Don’t worry, romance here is not dead - it’s just pervasive, predictable, and dull., It has, through overuse, been stripped of its sweet spontaneity, of the genuine sentiment that in theory should inspire it, as I imagine was the case in the days of Dante., If another boy offers to take me to Piazzale Michelangelo, I think I might scream, well either that or shed tears of boredom – suffice it to say that romance here is lacking a little in the creativity department.

 

I understand that the en masse outdoor hook-up scene is partly due to cultural necessity because Italians tend to live at home until they marry (often not before the age of 30), and throwing in a pretty view is useful should you want to take a break from looking at each other, but still that’s no excuse for abusing romance - nor for dirty condom litter!, Not to mention the fact that all the resulting PDA (Public Display of Affection), which abounds here, can get a bit much., People feel comfortable expressing in public not just their love, but also their lust, for each other, and the time of day makes no difference, which I’ve heard is a bummer should you happen to live by a viewing point in Fiesole., Furthermore, if you fancy even a twilight evening view of the city and happen to be a girl and alone and in the aforementioned Piazzale, just be ready for people to think you’ve just been dumped.

 

All the PDA does make one wonder about who’s watching, who’s voyeur-ing., Indeed, it was partly the infamous Monster of Florence, a serial and ritual killer that victimized couples going at it in their cars in dark, secluded spots, that pushed Florentines in the late seventies and early eighties to choose brighter, more frequented areas, like the Piazzale and various corners of Fiesole, for their sexual exploits., Apparently, parents were so terrorized that they would make an effort to go out in the evenings, leaving to the kids and their significant others the run of the house., Better sexually active than dead, was the rationale., Of course, murder is an extreme on a wide spectrum; I was recently quite surprised when, at five minutes to nine on a still-light-out Monday evening, I glimpsed a man vigorously going at himself behind one of the crosses on the Via Crucis leading up to Piazzale Michelangelo.

 

Although getting used to all the necking-on-display can be an adjustment (call me just another prude American), and the ramifications it has for the notion of romance does sadden me (hopeless romantic), it is a cultural quirk that’s certainly got a bit of entertainment value., I bet there’s no equivalent in Italian for the expression, “Get a room!”, And cynicism aside, I would, without hesitation, rank Florence on my top-five list in the category “Cities with the most great places in which to cop a feel.”

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