Italian Men: Masters in Seduction

Italian Actor Raoul Bova

Dear Blog Readers —  Today I have a little surprise.  A loyal reader of this blog sent me an email with an hilarious tale and word of warning on Italian men, the masters of seduction.  We agreed that I would change a few details and names in her story so that she and the Italian male protagonist of this tale will remain anonymous.  So, she is going to be Catherine from now on.

She concluded the first part of her story with the following request:

Trisha, maybe you could shed some light on Italian men and their supersonic flirting power especially with us tourists?

As an introduction I will share a few thoughts and then I encourage any blog readers who are more knowledgeable about the seductive capacity of Italian men to send their thoughts and comments.  If you read one of my first blog posts “How I Ended Up in Italy” you will find out how my Italian husband seduced me in one fell swoop with a kiss on the hand on the campus of Columbia University in New York.  Years later, when we were married and had three kids and living in Rome, I was having coffee with a British friend married to an Italian when she casually turned to me and said, “Well, obviously you are familiar with the Italian saying ‘Italian men are the world’s best lovers and the world’s worst husbands.’  It was as though she had hit me in the head with a frying pan.  It was so obvious and yet somehow it had never occurred to me.

Briefly, let me explain.  Italian men are born to seduce, they are raised to seduce, they spend their lives seducing and I think they all must die while trying to seduce the nurses in the hospital.  This does not mean they go through with it, they just practice the art of seduction on all the women they meet. A few years after I met my future husband, I was living in Washington while he finished his Phd in New York.  We were engaged to be married.  One weekend he came to visit me and we were invited to a dinner party.  Before the dinner party we stopped by at a florist to get some flowers.  My husband never goes for a standard bouquet of flowers, it has to be exaggeratedly huge and beautiful. It doesn’t matter who it is going to, it has to take her breathe away.  That is just the way he is.  Part of the seduction training.  So, we were late for this dinner and he got a massive bouquet and we hopped on the Washington metro, got off at our stop and rushed up the stairs. I whipped through the turnstile and was heading out of the metro station when I realized my fiance’ was not with me.  I turned around and started walking back down the stairs and then halted, frozen in disbelief.  There he was at the turnstile with a gorgeous blond woman.  His metrocard wasn’t working and he was blocked so he was asking her for help.  I moved a little nearer and into the shadows to watch my future husband engaged in the fine art of seduction.  I watched him flirtatiously hand her the flowers and ask her to hold them while he messed with his metrocard. His Italian accent had suddenly become more intense, as had his inability to put the damn metro card into the turnstile machine.  I swear he repeatedly was putting it in upside down or backwards so he could stay there and flirt with this beautiful woman.  And she was eating it all up, as though she was ready to stay all night and try to solve his metrocard problem with him.  I think she might have thought she would get to keep the flowers too.  I am sure if I hadn’t been there, the two of them would have ended up going out to dinner and she would have gone home with those flowers.  Of course I did have to be the party pooper and ruin all the fun by calling out, “C’mon Gustavo, we’re late for dinner.”  As much as I was irked and a little jealous, I was also in awe at my Italian fiance’s capacity for seduction.

So, that covers the first half of the proverb, now for the second half, “Italian men are the world’s worst husbands.”  Let me suffice it to say that one night last week I was wiped out after a busy day at work and helping the kids with various things from college applications to homework.  I said to my husband, “I am going to bed early, do you mind cleaning the kitchen?”  He looked up from his computer and said, “I don’t know how to turn on the dishwasher.”

We have had that dishwasher for at least 10 years. I was tempted to say: “I’ve seen you turn on women age 20 to age 70 with a smile, maybe it is time you learned how to turn on a dishwasher.” Instead I said, “Buonanotte.” Enough said.

On to Catherine’s delightful, comical tale of being seduced by an Italian man.


First up – I am 50 years old, divorced, could lose a few pounds and haven’t had a man in my life for a long, long time. I would say I’ve reached the unenviable time of life when, in Australia, women like me become invisible.

I’d spent time in Italy in the 1980s as a young backpacker and always wanted to go back. So anyway, about a year ago I plan a trip to Italy for September. I went with my mum, her husband and my aunty who is a few years older than me. We had three amazing weeks and I was dazzled by the beauty of the country and had a thoroughly amazing time.

A few days before going home, we were in Naples. I was crossing the foyer of the hotel when I saw one of ‘those’ Italian men. Dressed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, mirrored sunglasses, the scarf worn jauntily around the neck, perfect shoes, perfect pants. My heart just went ‘bam’ and did a succession of Olympic gymnast-style backflips. Boy was he something else! And he was watching me….doing the ‘super eyeball’ thing you mentioned in one of your other posts. I suddenly felt 16 again. All hot and bothered and thinking ‘why is he looking at me like this – I’m 50, out of shape, a mum of teenagers…..what is this about?’

Anyway, he approached me, said he was a tour company driver and was I waiting for the Amalfi Coast tour? No I wasn’t. He pushed on. He asked my name, where I was from, about my work, how long was I in Naples. He also asked where was I going today? To Pompeii. What about after that? Did I need a driver anywhere? What about to the airport? Here is my card. Call me if you need anything. So I shoved the card in my purse and watched him leave. My blood pressure was berserk. Thank heavens for travel insurance, I was thinking. If I bust a heart valve, I’m covered.

So…a few days later we’re in Positano and I said to my aunty that we should call this guy as we needed to get to the Fiumicino airport and he could probably drive us there. I called him & left a message.

He drove us to Fiumicino. I sat in the front beside him as the Amalfi Coast bends were making me carsick. That’s when he began the flirting. Just a little at first. You’re not married are you? I noticed you were wearing no ring when I saw you at the hotel in Naples. What about a boyfriend? No? Ah….those Australian men – they don’t know how to take care of their women. What is your star sign? You’re Taurus? I’m a Cancer – we get along with Taurus..……Gradually the flirting turned up like the volume on a television. You have beautiful hands. Do you like hand massages (he took my hand and began stroking it).You are very beautiful. You look so wonderful – you’re not ‘plastic’ like other women. Any man would be lucky to have you….

Well, to say I was bewitched and bedazzled was an understatement. By the time we got to Fiumicino he could have said ‘empty your wallet and give me all your credit cards’ I would have happily complied.

When I handed him a tip, he moved forward put his arms around me and kissed me. Not just a kiss but a KISS. If I wasn’t leaning on the car I would have turned to water and flowed slowly down the nearest drain.

When I pulled myself together inside the airport and my heart rate returned to normal, I had one question. Why did he do this? After all, I was leaving the country – we were at the airport! So a quick shag was out of the question. I was at a loss as to his motives.

This may sound nuts but I came home a different person. I lost 15 pounds and found the sexy woman that was buried and dormant underneath the grocery shopper/teacher/daughter/bill payer and single mother. It’s crazy but during that two-hour car trip, this young (15 years my junior) Italian man threw off my ‘invisibility cloak’ and I am so grateful to him for that.

What is it with Italian men? I have google searched this and have found that other women from countries like Australia, USA and Britain have also come under the spell of their beautifully crafted flirting.  He may say words like that to many women – and I’m sure he does -but on that drive he was saying them to me. That was all that mattered.

NOTE TO BLOG READERS:  In a few days I will post Catherine’s Part II, but please feel free to send your comments, thoughts and answers to Catherine’s Question: What is it with Italian Men? Where do they get their Masters in Seduction?

Gianni Agnelli Skiing in the Italian Allps. Copyright: Getty- David Lees

But now one last comment from me.   A few days ago, on January 24th, Italy marked the 10th anniversary of the death of one of Italy’s most elegant, refined, sophisticated, and dashing men.  Also, a man renowned for his ability to seduce.  I am talking about the Italian Industrialist, and head of Fiat, Gianni Agnelli.  I think he represents what Italians see as the best kind of seducer–extremely polite, elegant, and discreet.

Jackie Kennedy and Gianni Agnelli on the Amalfi Coast when she was visiting in 1962. Credit:

34 thoughts on “Italian Men: Masters in Seduction”

    1. You are probably right Alan, all Smoke and Mirrors. Given your experiences in international affairs (obviousy not with men), how do you think Turkish and British men compare in the seduction department? My impression is Brits aren’t big on seduction — too cold, sense of humor too dry– and I am guessing Turkish men have some of the Mediterranean flare of the Italians. Am I right?

    1. I am not sure Australia is ready for the “NEW” Catherine. The men down under better start honing up on their seduction skills.

  1. This is comical! I like the way she compares him to a Thanksgiving turkey! Do you think it’s a bit different in the south compared to the north? I’ve lived in both regions and while I see many contrasts, I don’t think this is necessarily one of them…lots of seductive turkeys up here, too!

    1. Hi Dana – I got a kick out of that Thanksgiving Turkey bit too. I thought only Americans used that expression but apparently Australian’s do too. I am not sure if Italian men in the north and the south are any different on this one. I gave the example of Gianni Agnelli who was from the northern city of Turin, and I have certainly have met some Sicilians that are equally refined, elegant and dashing. I am curious to hear what readers might have to say about how Italian women handle their seductive men, and if they are equally talented seducers. Might be worth a blog post if I figure it out. Thanks for you comment.

  2. Oh, I think it is true. Now just how it all started, I’ll never know. Is it the “continental”manners I’ve read about in classic novels? I am willing to guess, however that Hollywood & Cinecitta had something to do with bringing Italian men to their current state of facility in the art of seduction. And it is not always seduction, per se, at least in my experience, but as Catherine experienced, just making one feel special, not invisible. I suppose one could use the word desirable, but really to me, it was just that Italian men have so often taken the time to greet me very politely and pay some serious attention, actually looking at me when I speak.

    Indeed many of the men are handsome and alluring, and know how to make a woman feel special. They can also be darn playful. I remember being in a train station when I was about nineteen years of age and suddenly hearing catcalls and shouts of “Biondina!” I looked up as I walked along the platform and what must have been at least a hundred Italian soldiers poking their heads out of the train windows, their feathered caps bouncing as they gesticulated. I had absolutely never encountered anything like that before, and figured it was wisest to wait for another train, but I had fun listening to them.

    Thanks for this one. It was a terrifically fun read and brought back some rather wonderful memories. I await the next installment!

    1. Hey Biondina! I think you were very wise not to get on that train. Gosh, Italians have a thing for blonds. I am sure you know this already but you were being greeted by the famed Bersaglieri. Those are the Italian soldiers who have the elaborate plumes in their helmets. They began in northern Italy as the king’s soldiers, but still exist today and have served in far-flung spots such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

  3. Well- i arrived in Florence from San Franicisco in 1984– and never left. I spent the first month going to language school from 5-7 and from 7-12 walked up and down the main pedestrian street of town, “cruising”. It was a blast. I learned a lot about the italian pick up techniques from young soldiers, mostly 19 year old boys from the south, to dapper older men.

    It is an art!

    I find that the Italian self -esteem is so high, being loved so much by their mothers that they are so secure in themselves and enough the chase!.

    I got lucky. After a year, I met the man who is now my husband. He is not typical in that now, after being a cab driver for 17 years, is now a house husband and takes care of me.
    Perhaps as we have cats not kids— we have a different sort of life!

    1. Judy — how lovely. I think you were very lucky. There are not too many Italian men who I have met that would be willing to be a house husband. I agree that for many Italian boys, their mothers spend their childhood building them up making them think they are the Cat’s Meow and when life throws them some curve balls, they can’t can’t take.

  4. Right – i Bersaglieri – the guys that run every where! They are something. I have seen them strut their stuff in parades.Not the bunch to try and outrun, that’s for certain. It was funny, but when I told Italian friends the story, every bit of animation drained from their faces as they worried whether or not I had gotten on the train. Once I told them I waited for another, they were themselves again. But I do recall that I was not sure how to deal with the soldiers. I thought ignoring them might be a bad move, but on the other hand, I did not want to encourage them. As I recall, I just looked up, smiled and gave a bit of a wave, continuing down the platform.

    1. Yes, the Bersaglieri are the guys that run everywhere. And you were right to acknowledge the male attention but not get on the train. I can understand while the Italians turn pale when you tell that story. It would have been dangerous for you to get on that train.

    1. Raoul Bova is a stunningly good-looking Italian actor. He lives in Rome and has three kids some of whom he sent to an American school in Rome. I had some American friends that said they would just faint looking at him when he brought his kids to school in the morning.

  5. What a terrific article! And the photos – who doesn’t want to be seduced by men like these? And part of this conversation needs to be the good it does, did for Catherine, does for people, to be treated as desirable, precious. Yet Italy is not a culture that has been liberal to women. So why is it that in other cultures, women are seen as servants, but in Italy, as women? And is there an age in Italy when they are not? The image of an Italian mama is of a woman in black shapeless dress and sturdy black shoes and no make up, making food. But the Italian single woman is a siren, a seductress. What happens, in the heads of the women as well as the men, when the ring slips on – or off – the finger? Is it different in France? And does the culture change? Here in the US, the culture is in constant flux, and different parts of the culture behave differently. Is Italy homogeneous? So many questions . . . . and you are our culture maven!

    1. Nancy — what important points you raise. I must do a post on young Italian women and if they have the same seduction abilities as the men. However, I will have to do some research on this one because the answer is not obvious. As far as the role of women is concerned, it is not good in Italy. Some time back I did a four part post series on women in Italy with lots of statistics showing how they are getting a bad deal. I was mostly focusing on mothers. Here is the link to the fourth part of the series:
      Now you’ve inspired me to get working on a post on younger women.
      Thank you!

  6. Oh this was a fun read. The photos only add more weight to your words. Would that all Italian men looked like the first fellow and Mr. elegant – Gianni Agnelli. I just loved Catherine’s story. While I’ve been flattered by young 20 somethings in Italy, I’ve also been groped (yes, groped) on a Rome bus by a lecherous vecchietto at least 80 years old, whom I swiftly yelled at (Ma cosa fai, scemo!) causing him to get off at the next stop. Just sayin’ — not all the attention from Italian men is appreciated. But it does seem as though they feel entitled, when it comes to their feminine counterpart. And I’m not sure where that comes from.

    1. Hi Linda — thanks for your comment. I agree, not all attention that one gets from Italian men is appreciated. And certainly the sight of Raoul Bova of Gianni Agnelli would be enough to make any woman melt. Just wait until part II — what a laugh, Catherine has such a great sense of humor.

  7. Hola! Bueno, todo lo que he leído, es similar a lo que yo he vivido. Habia visto en películas que los hombres italianos eran seductores, pero en la realidad es aún superior!
    No sé si mi aspecto latino los volvió loco, o mi pelo negro, o mis ojos grandes y negros. Pero no soy una jovencita, tampoco tengo un cuerpo escultural, mi arte de seducción y sentirme seducida lo tenia muerto definitivamente, …hasta mi experiencia en Italia. Debo decir que cualquier hombre podría hacer lo mismo, pero será igual porque en ellos resulta diferente, resulta emocionante, resulta la experiencia mas maravillosa del mundo para una mujer. Sólo quisiera haberme quedado por mas tiempo, porque de seguro estaría casada o viviendo con alguno!! jajaja.

    1. I do not speak Spanish so I will just approve the comment and let others respond. Thanks for reading my blog!

      1. Oh Trisha, i am sorry for my language. So i´ll try to say it in english :
        All that you wrote, iits the same that i lived in Rome, a few weeks ago. I can say that italian men are unique, all that they do its different, cause they have passion inside veins, and their lives are made of passion too. So all what they do its exciting, and actually its my best experience about men. I am not a Young woman, I don’t look like a top model, and i really forget how to seduce men..i only have black eyes and black hair, and morena skin..but .i am alone for years, because in latin america its not a beauty, after my travel to italy, i feel younger, fresh, sexy and live! I think..italian men are ..”elixir de amor “. Probably i need to live in italy to get married or get a boyfriend..!!
        PS: I love your blog!!

        1. Rossana — I am so happy for you that you have had such a positive experience with Italian men. I always thought Latin American men were supposed to be passionate lovers…I suppose I must be wrong. I should consider myself lucky to be surrounded by so many Italians.

  8. I came under the spell of the Italian man recently for a four month relationship however I realised that it could not last. However those months were an interesting experience and I enjoyed it.
    There’s a strong pull with the mother and I think, the power that a young child has over his mother would transcend into adulthood. I was a bit concerned, as I once said in a flippant argument to my man after he went on about his thoughts on the world, sometimes with arrogance, ‘ you might think you’re the best thing ever but actually no one else really gives a damn’ and he responded back with a cheeky smile ‘ I do not care about anyone else, I care what you think’ lovely, how can you be mad with that even though I wasn’t too sure that was true.
    But I think us Brits perhaps don’t dress things up and that’s what maybe different with the Italian peacock. I love the culture I can’t deny it.. forever I have found a magnetic pull to this place and culture. If I had a previous life I would swear I was Italian.
    But the art of seduction I do worry is this ‘you can never do wrong in my eyes boy’ the mother speaking and of course, be it infidelity or whatever it’s true. There are some alarming concerns in politics and the Italian attitude towards sex crimes and domestic violence towards women which is not treated well at all. To sign off. You can never have enough Tiramisu!

    1. Trisha Thomas

      Thanks Angelita — I think you are right — from their charming conversation to their obsession with their mothers– Italian men are difficult to grasp and handle. And yes, the attitudes towards women has had a very bad impact on society from the femmicide problem to politics. Sigh.

  9. Here is another one who has been seducted by an italian! But he was a tourist in my city, and left the country the day after… I’m a bit confused, since he asked for my phone number (did not think he would use it) and he has been texting me a few times the last week. What does that mean?!?! Its not like he can have me, we are miles and miles apart…

    1. Trisha Thomas

      Well, I think that is very sweet that he took your number and is writing text messages to you. Even if you are miles apart and probably nothing will ever come of it, I hope you are enjoying the attention of the text messages. I hope for you that they are tender and complimentary so you can feel good about yourself. We all need a little ego boost sometimes!

  10. I have very short and extremely blonde hair, and am a far cry from the typical Italian female, with a pretty British sense of style. I often feel inadequately turned out in this aesthetic-obsessed country but at other times I think these things make me stand out and I am definitely “noticed”…..

    A male friend of a friend recently got hold of my number and has barely relented from using his Italianisms on me since…DESPITE me informing him that I am already very happily involved with another man. We spent time together, sure, but during which he made very obvious remarks about how much he liked my skirt on me, how my scarf (leopard print) matched his bedspread ( ! ), how interesting and different my hair is…..He even went as far as trying to feed my honey and cheese – from his hand to my mouth.

    Too. Much. Seduction.

    1. Trisha Thomas

      This is soooo funny. The leopard scarf matches his leopard bed spread!! Good grief!! I am surprised he didn’t say he wanted you lying on his bedspread dressed only in your scarf! To be honest, I think blondes get it worse here. There are just not as many blondes in Italy and they are magnets for male attention. I have a very blond daughter and she gets so many looks sometimes it worries me. I also had a very blond British friend with a huge mane of long hair and she carried an umbrella with her even in the rainless summer just so she could use it to bonk the foot of all the men grabbing her butt on the bus. She has since left Italy. You are right there – Too. Much. Seduction.

  11. Andrea Pollard

    A year ago I completely fell for an Italian mans charms while on holiday. I was made to feel so special, it was wonderful. Now, with hindsight I just don’t know whether to view it with disdain and cynicism…they don’t really mean it, it’s all lies, what a cliche, I’m such a fool, how embarrassing…or whether to enjoy. It all depends on how kind I am being to myself. Lovely memories though.

    1. Trisha Thomas

      Are you kidding? There is no reason to be embarrassed, you are certainly not the first person to fall under the spell of an Italian man. I don’t think you should consider it “all lies” either. If an Italian man covers you with compliments, tells you you are beautiful, marvelous, wonderful, it is what he is thinking at that moment. Yes, he is probably also using it to get you into bed and may move on and forget about you later, but if you both enjoyed the moment, I think that is fine.

  12. According to author-editor J. Belliveau, Anglo-Saxon women invented sex tourism in the 1840s in Rome, Italy.

  13. I don’t thnk it’s lies at all, I have heard many women say that Italian men really like women and like to make them feel good about themselves. Italian men like to spend time with women (not like men from western cultures), men from western cultures don’t generally ‘enjoy’ the company of women, they ‘endure it’, because it’s deemed to be weak and pathetic, but Italian men actually do enjoy the company of women.

    As I mentioned earlier, I think Italian men like to make women feel good about themselves – and what did it do for you? It made you feel like a ‘real’ woman again; it encouraged you to go home and sex-it-up a bit, he made you feel sexy for the first time in a long time. Australian men don’t do that for you, you have to beat a compliment out of them and usually kicking and screaming – and never in front of another man. Some men flat out refuse to compliment their women at all.

    Even if he was just trying to get you in bed…who cares? If you had made it that far I’m sure it would have been pretty amazing stuff LOL! What’s the big deal? Just go with it, accept it as a compliment and go back to Italy as soon as bloody possible LOL!

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