With plenty of cobbled piazzas to wander, exquisite cuisine to share and breathtaking panoramas to admire, Italy is made for lovers. However, while the nation’s reputation for romance is well known, Italians can also be puzzling, infuriating and sticklers for the unwritten ‘rules’ of dating. Here’s what you need to know to help make sure reality lives up to the fairytale.
Public transport is notoriously iffy in many Italian cities so it’s no big deal if a date offers to pick you up instead of meeting directly at a bar or restaurant. Of course, it’s fine to decline, just be aware that such an offer doesn’t automatically make them a fully-fledged resident of Creepsville. Equally, offering to drive you home doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be waiting for an invite inside either.
Timekeeping works differently in Italy and arriving 10 minutes after the agreed time really is no big deal. In fact, as everybody habitually runs 10 minutes late it means that no one is really late at all. A 20-minute delay can be excused if there’s a reason – terrible traffic is acceptable, stopping for an espresso is absolutely not – but a 30-minute delay and the chances of a second date will disappear fast.
Whether it’s something as simple as grabbing a coffee or meeting for an early evening stroll, Italians do it in style so be sure to make the effort, especially for that all-important first date. Ditch the comfy hoodie and those trainers that have seen better days – looking good and putting your best self forward is the way to impress.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all men, but anyone who dips a toe in the Italian dating pool will notice some guys think an overactive tongue and lots of heavy breathing equates to good kissing. Thankfully, there are guys out there who know the difference between passionate and overzealous – for those that don’t, letting them know you’ve already had your annual dental check-up should clue them up.
It’s entirely possible to meet a potential love interest the old fashioned way – namely while drunk in a bar – but why bother when you can browse Tinder from the comfort of your own home. All the Italian stereotypes are ready and waiting to be swiped right – Stefano showing off his six-pack at the beach, Francesco and his promise of a Vespa ride and Chiara who’s already not interested.
It’s difficult to date in a country where over 80% of young people still live with their parents. There’s not only logistical challenges to think of – with nowhere else to go it will almost always be back to your place – but bonding with someone who’s never lived independently can be a challenge.
Aperitivo, the concept of pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, is a great choice for a first date. There’s none of the challenges that come with eating a plate of spaghetti while trying to remain composed and it can be as casual or upmarket as you like. Plus, if the date is a disaster it’s easy to escape with the excuse of evening plans. If it’s going well just play it cool and order another drink.
Italians are famous commitment-phobes so making the switch from friend to fidanzato (or fidanzata for women) signifies a certain maturity in a relationship. If they’re ready to start telling the world about your existence things are probably getting pretty serious…
It might literally translate to ‘betrothed’ and also mean fiancé/fiancée but don’t worry, you didn’t miss the proposal; fidanzato/a is most commonly used to mean boyfriend/girlfriend. A handy tip if you’re just getting to grips with the complexities of the Italian language.
They might have travelled through Europe or backpacked across Asia after finishing university, but there’s a particular kind of Italian who, when at home, is always happiest in his or her own neighbourhood. Don’t be surprised if your date has never been to their hometown’s most famous sites. For example, it’s a running joke that most Romans have never been inside the Colosseum.
With all those open vowels and its melodic, singsong style of speaking, Italian is a delight to listen to. Even the most mundane person can sound interesting if they speak the most romantic language in the world.
The times are certainly changing in Italy, albeit slightly slower than in other countries. Those social norms that dictate men should pay for everything and women should play hard to get are stubbornly sticking around in certain circles. Feel free to let your date know you’ll be splitting the bill equally.