Italian women

After so many years abroad I don’t remember how things used to be in Germany, but I have noticed that in Tuscany it is pretty difficult to get in touch with Italian women. Not that they are divided from the world by wearing a burqa, or that they are not permitted to speak with other people. It must have to do with their values, I suppose, or better yet, the value Italian society is willing to give them. Many have been, and still are, raised with a unique goal: find a husband. This means that they must look beautiful, they should cook decently, know how to keep the house clean and look after the (possibly male) children. No independent life or brilliant career can compete with a man at your side!

Consequently, any creature wearing a skirt turns into a potential risk. For this reason, the “gentle sex” here it Italy has developed highly sensitive radar skills. Is the lady in front of me a rival? Has she got a cute, small nose? Are there sexy freckles on it? Does the small toe of her left foot look better than mine? Is she attractive enough to catch my husband’s eye? Italian women are terrible judges and there is no mercy, no solidarity, no understanding whatsoever. Fortunately they can’t kill you, but, if you look pleasant, they will do anything to get rid of you.

The only place where I risk to approach Italian women safely is …the supermarket. If I ask their help, they choose the most tender piece of meat, they tell me how to best cook seafood, give me advice on the preparation of artichokes, eggplants and all the other vegetables I do not know from my homeland. They are open, friendly and caring and it is a real pleasure to exchange recipes with them. Yesterday, for example, a nice Tuscan lady explained to me how to bake “branzino (sea bass) in salt crust” in the oven, which turned out to be delicious!

Once the shopping is done and everything is paid, the magic fades away and daily life repossess the female population, their feelings and thoughts. I have returned into a potentially dangerous hand grenade. They, into the usual nasty beasts. But every now and then, one or the other catches me from the corner of her eye, sending me a smile, even outside our peaceful island, and I dare smile back. Could be a good sign…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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8 Responses to Italian women

  1. cristina says:

    This is an interesting perception of Italian women. I am Italian myself but I left Italy when I was 23 and I came back 21 years later and yes it is true that there is a lot of emphasis on the look, however, I truly believe that if Italian women see other women as potential rivals (that could snatch their man), it is because most probably Italian man are not very faithful and look at any opportunity to decive. I think that if a woman was sure of her man she wouldn’t feel threatend by other women in any way. Another important issue to consider is Italian TV!!! full of young pretty women wearing almost no clothes and behaving just like objects of desire with the goal of always pleasing men!!! However, I still think that often the competiton is against the same sex. Even in England where women are not at obsessed about the way they look, if a group of women goes out they would all dressed up and look amazing, but when at home with their husbands they put no effort whatsoever. I actually think that the competition starts outside the home and its all because of the media and the pressure that it puts on us women to always look young and desirable.
    About being unfriendly I think is due to other factors, for example I am from Rome, but I have noticed myself that here in Lucca people in general is quite reserved. It is much more difficult to meet people and make friends. Funnly enough are even more reserved than British people!!! But it is smothing that I’ve noticed both with women and men. ciao Cristina

  2. Melissa says:

    Well it does beg the question, have women expats gained a valid reputation of being “man thieves”?

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your interest in my blog. I understand what you mean. My article was about personal experiences. However I am an emancipated woman coming from a free country, capable and comfortable to look after myself. Maybe it depends where the women come from. I think that in some parts of the world life is so unbearable that you do almost anything to change your situation.

  3. Maria says:

    Thanks for your blog Anneliese.

    I am British and have lived in Italy twice, once as a younger woman and now older, and both times I have been struck by how the default attitude of women to other women seems to be very negative. I lived in Spain too and there women generally smiled at one another – even perfect strangers – and had a friendly vibe. Here it is as if you are automatically judged, given the up and down assessment of your appearance and there is an attempt to put you down or show somehow that they feel superior to you, all by dagger looks. This is from younger and older women. Maybe older women are the worst – what a sour-faced lot! There does seem to be far too much focus on appearance. Admittedly I’m out of step with the culture as I don’t tend to give two hoots about my appearance or anyone else’s. I can enjoy good aesthetics or people who either naturally look good or dress well – whatever – but basically I value much more how people relate to other people and building friendly social contacts. I have a normal female vanity but I do not place much importance on it besides wanting to looking ok and basically washed and tidy when I’m out and about. I enjoy good female friendships in the UK and Spain and do not understand why Italian women feel the need to spoil the relationship with their own sex with a default position of unfriendliness and ridiculous rivalry. Not an emancipated country, sadly, it seems!

  4. Mike says:

    So, while Italian males pamper foreign women from dawn to dusk, you wonder why Italian females may feel resentful?

    Bound by social rules that state that a woman may not overtly express any interest in a man (otherwise she would lose her “reputation”), Italian women have to face how foreign women enjoy life to the max.

    Did it ever occur to you that, compared to your male counterparts, you are rather fortunate? Foreign men are locked out of society by Italian males, mainly because of the same competition principle. They cannot even talk to Italian women because of abovementioned social rule and the fact that an Italian woman has to be introduced to a man by a (male) friend. Mind that Italy is the homeland of “(Non) si fa”.

    Actually, especially in South Italy, your remark about the burqa is more appropriate than you think: the shores of Arabia are but a stone’s throw.

    The life of a foreign woman in Italy is an endless rollercoaster of Italian men inviting them to dinner, strolls through the city, birthday parties, BBQ’s, trips to the countryside,… I guess that sometimes you can’t have it all.

  5. Gina says:

    First off, I want to say that I really like your blog. Your perceptions are probably not far off, but I think its true of women in general – regardless of culture. I also think the common denominator is men. Men who make their woman feel loved, admired and secure, have wives who are not threatened by other women. Period. Our mates should be encouraged to look, because that is normal and natural, but they should also be encouraged to say what they really feel about why they have chosen us. And do it often and enough. Men who dont do this, run the risk of creating insecurities in women, that were never there before. If they behave in ways that make you feel inferior to every other woman on the street then the only people they have to blame for possibly having an insecure wife or girlfriend, is themselves. Anyway, thats just my humble opinion. Check out my blog if you have a moment its called http://www.italiansisters.com. Its about solidarity and sisterhood in our big female family… I think that women of all cultures can benefit from supporting one another instead of seeing ourselves as rivals.

    • admin says:

      Things vary from region to region and from country to country. My blog was “one” interpretation. There surely are many many other opinions.

      Enjoyed your web-site.

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