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How to Impress an Italian Girl

italiangirls1Travel opens you up to all kinds of new experiences, so it’s only natural that travelers are more susceptible to falling head over heels in love with people they meet on the road. Sometimes it’s another traveler in the hostel common room, but when you’re traveling in Italy it’s almost impossible not to fall in love (or at least what feels like love right then) with an Italian.
But what happens when you meet an Italian girl who you want to do more than make flirty eye contact with across a dimly-lit dance floor? What if you’d actually like to ask her to dinner and not feel the sting of rejection? If that’s the case then you need to know a few things about how to impress an Italian girl – some of this stuff will seem pretty straightforward, but other tips here may be surprising to you.

Pay Attention to Style

Italians are stylish, so what you wear counts for quite a bit when you’re being assessed by an Italian girl. Italian guys are snappy dressers, always paying attention to the latest fashions and what’s trendy – so in order to compete with them, you’ve got to do the same. There is absolutely such a thing as “too casual” when it comes to attire in Italy.
Travelers may have trouble keeping up with exactly what’s hot fashion-wise, but if you’re intent on getting past “ciao” with that pretty Italian girl, you’d do well to invest in a nice shirt or a new pair of pants. Be on the lookout for whatever seems to be in all the shop windows – either a particular cut or a particular color – and you’re on the right track.
And if you can’t justify spending money on some new duds, at the very least be certain your hair (including facial hair) is clean and well-trimmed.
>> For more tips, see my guide on what to wear in Italy.

Don’t Talk Politics

Just as is the case in any culture, there are certain subjects you don’t want to bring up in conversations until you know where the other person stands on the issue. In Italy, when you’re trying to impress an Italian girl, the main thing you want to steer clear of is politics.
Depending on the company you’re with, you’ll probably also want to avoid talking about religion – whether the Italian girl you’re chatting up seems religious or not, Italians as a general rule take religion very seriously (and the vast majority of them identify as Catholic). So even if you’re Catholic, too, it’s a subject best avoided until you know the person better.

Be Confident, but Don’t Forget Chivalry

italiangirls3As I noted recently, Italian women are confident creatures – but that doesn’t mean they like meek men. To impress an Italian girl, you’ve got to be sure of yourself, confident in your opinions, and not afraid to speak your mind.
In addition to that, however, you’ve also got to remember that chivalry remains a high priority in Italy – so plan on opening doors for that special lady and treating her as if she’s the center of your universe. And when you’re out on your date with her, be prepared to pay for everything. Oh, and if you get past the group date (outlined below) to a first date with just her alone, show up with flowers.

Don’t Ever Criticize Mom

The idea of the “mama’s boy” may be more stereotypically familiar in Italy, but throughout the country the Italian mama is something of a holy figure. Easily one of the worst things you could do when trying to impress an Italian girl would be to criticize anyone’s mother – yours, hers, or anyone else’s.
And then later, should you be lucky to get far enough into a relationship with an Italian girl to meet her family, it doesn’t matter if you ever hear her complain about her mother – you are not allowed to do the same (whether you’re just agreeing with her or not). It’s a sticky situation, sort of a “does this dress make me look fat” thing where there’s no right answer – but you’re still better off skirting the issue than expressing agreement when she bitches about her mother.
Oh, and since most Italian women aren’t looking for a “mama’s boy,” don’t talk too much about your own mother, either – especially if you still live at home.

First Date Comes After a Group Date

italiangirls2Italians typically go out on first dates in small groups, rather than just the two people in the would-be couple. So even if you ask an Italian girl if she’d like to meet up for an aperitivo don’t be surprised if she brings a couple close girlfriends along. (Which means you should be prepared to have a couple of your friends on call to join you as well.)
It’s not that she’s scared of being alone with you, it’s that there’s far less chance for awkward silences in a group – plus, this gives everyone the chance to see how they like not only the potential partner but also that person’s closest pals. After all, if you’ll be spending lots of time with the girl, you’ll also be spending lots of time with her friends. Getting a second or third date usually means she not only likes you, but she likes (and approves of) your friends, too.

Learn the Language

More and more Italians (especially younger generations) speak at least a little English these days, but knowing a little bit of the Italian language definitely won’t hurt your chances. Italians seem to know that their language isn’t exactly the most lucrative one to learn, so they’re usually touched by anyone who makes an effort to learn a few phrases. (And if you happen to speak French, I’m told that Italian women seem to like hearing a bit of français as well.)
To impress an Italian girl, get beyond the simple “ciao” and learn how to give her a compliment. Ask around to make sure you’re translating whatever compliment you want to deliver properly, but for the most part stumbling good-naturedly over a phrase you learned just for her is also pretty endearing. If she laughs at you in a not-so-nice way then she probably isn’t worth impressing anyway. Which leads me to…

Be Yourself

italiangirls4Despite all the pointers listed in this article, above all you want to be genuinely yourself when you’re attempting to impress an Italian girl. Aside from the fact that if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not in the early stages, that’s not going to end well when she finds out you’re someone else later on – Italians just tend to be more up-front when it comes to dating in general.
Even though “The Rules” was actually translated into Italian, it seems that either it wasn’t widely read – or Italians just ignored such strange head-game advice like “get a phone number but don’t call for three days.” If they like you, they’ll call. If they don’t, they’ll probably tell you they’re not interested so you don’t even have to wait for a call that may or may not ever come! Be ready for honesty, and be yourself in return.
Thanks to the following people for their help in answering the question “what does it take to impress an Italian girl?”

photos, top to bottom, by: Ed Yourdon, jonrawlinson, Ed Yourdon, Ed Yourdon