Leave me your experiences in the comments, do you agree with me or did I miss anything important?
Okay, this is the blog post that everyone wants. So grab your prosecco and pull up a chair, let’s discuss the global appeal of Italian men. Let’s start off with the superficial basics. If you have any taste in men at all, it’s almost impossible to deny the classically revered features of the Italians- the strong noses (here there is a fine balance required, let’s be honest), the even stronger jawlines, the thick eyelashes that look better than mine with two layers of falsies…just the eyes in general. Sometimes I think that the Romans invented bedroom eyes. Italians also have gorgeous coloring, that is of course, if that’s the look you’re into. In the north, they are tall, (less) dark, and handsome. Traditionally things get a little shorter and tannier towards the south and the hair increases (everywhere). But that’s still hot because hello, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine folks. And of course, there are blonde Italians, there are redhead Italians, because God is good. Personally, I’m a sucker for your tall, dark, and handsome type, hence my choice of husband although he could work on his tan a bit during the winter months. But despite all those adjectives, I think the Italians have 50% of their sex appeal in their eyes and the other 50% in their swag. Indeed, I have used the word swag in this post. It’s really the best word to describe this because it’s this innate, inner confidence and style that just emanates from every Italian, women included. Some tourists however, see it as arrogance. But I like my men with confidence (as do a lot of women I imagine based on the success of 50 Shades of Grey…!), call it arrogance if you will, it’s attractive paired with green eyes. On that note, you get some superb eye colors in Italy ranging from ice blue to the green that you thought was the stuff of urban legends. If you can’t tell already, I also adore green eyes (again, see husband choice). Moving on, Italian men tend to have style that most other men only dare dream about, or have to follow a step-by-step article in GQ to attain. They are also big on personal grooming, sometimes their eyebrows are more on fleek than mine. This is often associated with being excessively metrosexual but I assure you, no one is kicking an Italian out of bed for having too perfect eyebrows. Unless they are a forma di rondine, then yes, you are being kicked out, actually you are not being invited in at all. Finally, the last factor in all this appeal is passion. Italians, men and women, are so passionate about everything that they do (cough, cough...) and passion is sexy, I assure you there might be no bigger turn on than going to a soccer match with your Italian man and watching him watch his team win. That is passion personified if I ever saw it. Forget oysters, champagne, and strawberries, let’s go to San Siro!
Leave me your experiences in the comments, do you agree with me or did I miss anything important?
This week, two things very different things happened to me on two different nights. These two events show the perfect dichotomy that is life as a visible minority expat (immigrant) in Italy. On Wednesday, walking back through the city center from an aperitivo, I walked past a group of teenage boys. They were probably around fifteen or sixteen. There was no one else around and perhaps that was a factor in what happened next. One of them started saying “cina cina” and the others joined in. When I turned to give them the evil eye (yes, I know many people would be much more bold in this situation but I’ve never been one for confrontation), they told me “torna al tuo paese!” (go back to your country). If this hurts your heart to hear, you can imagine how much it totally sucks in person and to be the person that it’s directed to. I was offended of course, it’s impossible not to be. I also felt a sense of sadness though, pity, I suppose. It’s so sad to think that there are still young people with such closed-mindedness and such a narrow view of the world. I hope one day these boys get a chance to get out of the small town mentality of Bergamo. The reason I don’t get targeted as much as some other ethnic groups, in my opinion, is people tend to have a harder time placing where I’m from. Perhaps they know it could be an Asian or South Asian country, but the ambiguity has worked in my favor at times. I can only imagine what it must be like if you identify as African or Middle Eastern. A friend of mine , born and raised in California to Nigerian parents, has some stories that will make you cringe. Yet all wrongs are made right as soon as you “show evidence” that you’re from an Anglo-Saxon country. So this happened Wednesday.
On Thursday, an Australian friend and I went to our first Zumba exercise class. We had no idea where to find the community gym where it was to be held in so I asked the first family that we came across in the piazza in front of the church. The lady not only gave us directions but insisted on showing us the way herself, convinced we would have gotten lost otherwise (we would have!). This simple, kind gesture was really enough to make me forget about the previous day’s events but it got even better…when the instructor found out that we spoke English, she incorporated English into her instructions during the class, always checking to make sure we had understood but most importantly, checking in to make sure we felt welcome. This is what the world should be today. Less judgment and more inclusive thinking. Of course let’s not point fingers at just Italy, because this two sides of the coin story applies to almost every country in the world and we are seeing it played on a the world stage in current events. My hope is that at some point in the future, I won’t have any more material with which to write blog posts like this one.
If You Enjoyed This Post, You'd Probably Like...
...to read ALL my posts about EXPAT LIFE IN ITALY. There's the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Enjoy! And please write me about your experiences. Have you ever had something similar happen to you? I took alot of comfort in reading Jhumpa Lahiri's "In Altre Parole" where she talks about how she would constantly be overlooked despite her dedication to the Italian language and culture. Read about her book In Other Words (In Altre Parole) in my blog post here: Even Mindy Kaling Reads 'In Other Words'
First off, I have to say that this is not just about Italians, but about people in general. I hate when people comment on things that they know nothing about it, in my opinion, if you have no knowledge base on a topic, you shouldn’t really be commenting on it. The very least you could do is read a Wikipedia page about Canada before telling me about my country. I have come across absolutely every assumption about Canada during my two years here in Italy. The only thing non-Canadians seem to know about Canada is that it is cold. That’s usually the first comment after I answer the question “di dove sei?” (where are you from?). And yes, it is cold. But it can also be NOT cold. People think that it is eternal winter in Canada, across the entire country that is the second largest in the world. The knowledge of Canada ends right about here, after the cold and the eternal winter bit. It frustrates me that a country as beautiful as Canada doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, although on the other hand, maybe we should keep Canada a secret. This is due in part to media portrayal as well. Italians love to fantasize about cities like Los Angeles, even though, let’s be honest, the greater part of L.A. is not how it looks on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Another thing that people tend not to know about Canada is that it is home to modern, North American cities. With skyscrapers and shit. Shock and awe, yes, exactly like in the United States. In fact, exactly as if Canada were in North America! I don’t blame foreigners for not recognizing the name of my city- Edmonton. However, the immediate assumption is that it is a hamlet, a village of a thousand people dispersed in the Arctic tundra. That’s fine to assume, but this line of thought continues even after I explain that actually, Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta that Google tells me has a population of over 932, 546 people as of the 2016 census. Milan’s population is 1.3 million and Turin’s is 870, 702. So yes uninformed people, the population of the hamlet town of Edmonton is a bit under that of Milan’s and more than that of the teeny-tiny village of Turin. Next, I’m usually faced with describing the fact that we have a downtown that doesn’t look like the far west with tumbleweeds blowing around. This normally has to be supplemented by photographs because people continue to imagine something akin to the The Wall in Game of Thrones, with all of us shuffling about in furs like Jon Snow. Then I talk about how Edmonton also has the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in all of North America: the city’s river valley is 22 times larger than Central Park in New York City. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
It’s consistently said that travel is the cure to ignorance and I understand that travel, especially across the Atlantic, is not economically feasible for everyone. But inform yourselves the old-fashioned way. Ask questions, read books or at least scroll through Google images of different countries. Do all of this before telling me how relieved I must be to be “out of the cold” and living in a “real city”. I live in Bergamo, it’s 115,223 people. Remember Edmonton’s number? 932,546. I think it’s safe to say that I was living in a real city before as well.
The final cherry on top is that people have asked me when I am going to “bring over” my family. They don’t intend it in the vacation sense but in the “when are you going to save your family from the hard life they are enduring in the third world country of Canada?” When I tell them that they are not planning on moving here, everyone gets really confused. They don’t want to move here?! No, they don’t want to leave upper middle-class North American suburbia to live in Italy. Shocking, I know.
This has been a bit of a rant but it’s only because these are the kinds of comments that I’ve heard consistently having been an expat since 2014. I was actually inspired to write this post after accidently stumbling upon an old video of Jim Carrey doing stand-up comedy and making fun of the same issue.
Check it out here (there’s also Italian subtitles!): https://youtu.be/NFY8bmQLWUc
Oh and visit Canada when you get the chance. We promise it's not always cold and it's kinda pretty.
I first realized that I wanted to be an expat when I grew up on a volunteering trip to Nepal. It was the summer of my first year at university and I was fully intent on spending those three months exploring the world. The first month I wanted to dedicate to volunteering, the only problem was I hadn’t the slightest clue of where I wanted to go. I picked Kathmandu out of a volunteer abroad catalogue, I remember it was a gorgeous matte-print and the pictures of Buddhist temples, Hindu shrines, and Mount Everest called out to me. I booked flights almost immediately, it would be the longest trip I had ever taken with layovers in Frankfurt, Oman, and Bahrain.
I worked with a non-for-profit women’s health clinic in a rural area for three weeks. Commuting back and forth from the volunteer house in Thamel puts my current commute here in Italy to shame. I used to take two mini-buses, followed by a fifteen minute walk. Catching the buses was the most exciting part- they are literally those white vans for 8 people with sliding doors but minus the doors and with about three times the people inside. You had to catch them like a taxi in Manhattan, you would hail the correct one down and it would slow down slightly and you were meant to hop on. Of course there were no signs or scrolling text telling you the destination, the driver would yell out the final stop as it was passing. It was chaotic and a sensory overload, similar to the feeling of being an India-virgin when you first step off the plane in New Delhi. There’s no way to understand it unless you’ve been there, the assault to your senses, a thousand smells and sensations and sights coming at you like a freight train. It was nirvana in absolute. I wanted to keep it forever.
In the evenings, the other volunteers and I would drink icy cold beers in the upstairs bar aptly named Tom and Jerry, and stare up at the autographs of those who had been on a successful Everest summit as they usually celebrated at that hole-in-the wall pub. It was a place often frequented by expats, a term I learned while sitting there one night and meeting one in the flesh. I I had to ask him what the word meant. What's an expat? I asked wide-eyed, like a child. I remember he told me it was short for "expatriate". It had never crossed my mind that people would voluntarily leave their country of birth to reside in a foreign one. I loved the concept immediately. I left the bar that night with one new goal at the top of my bucket list: become an expat.
Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.