Italy is famously romantic and the beautiful cities and landscapes make the ideal setting for meeting that special someone. While many of the cultural norms about dating in Italy are prevalent throughout the West, there are also unique aspects to dating in the land of the Dolce Vita.
Italian men are stylish, flamboyant and gregarious while Italian women are fashion-conscious, elegant and tend to retain an alluring air of mystery during the dating process. Most Italians are fairly traditionally minded, which means that couples like to get to know each other pretty well before making long-term commitments and the families of the couple are often involved in the process.
Even though Italians tend to place a lot of importance on traditional gender roles this is starting to change. Even so, Italians are very open and accepting so LGBTQ+ couples don’t face the types of discrimination that they sometimes do in other parts of the world.
Overall, Italy is one of the best places to find the love of your life! However, it’s definitely worth learning a little bit about the dating culture so you can avoid making an embarrassing faux pas or cultural blunder on your first date.
Italian Dating Etiquette – A Brief Guide.
While dating in Italy, surrounded by ancient historical buildings and spectacular scenery, is certainly exciting and epitomizes the essence of romance, it can also be quite challenging. And so, whether you’re an Expat or visiting to study, it’s vital to understand the general dating etiquette to ensure you are able to make the most of the opportunities you have.
Italians’ reputation for being passionate, gregarious and comfortable with public shows of affection is, generally speaking, pretty accurate! Italians are quick to compliment someone on a date and are often a lot more open about their feelings than other people in the West. This makes dating in Italy fun and exciting but it does require you to raise your game and be ready to compliment, and even playfully flatter, a potential suitor.
The First Date – What To Expect?
Planning for a first date might be giving you butterflies in your stomach but in Italy, it’s best to keep things simple. Deciding where to meet, or what to do together, is the first thing you’ll need to work out. A few good ideas for your first date include going for a walk in a local park, having lunch at a cafe or visiting a gallery or museum together. Essentially, if you’re meeting an Italian for a first date they probably won’t be expecting anything to fancy.
Italians love their food and wine so it can also be a good idea to meet at a restaurant or cafe. For your first date, it’s usually better to keep it fairly low-key but if you hit it off then you can arrange to go to an up-market restaurant for a future date. Other options for early dates could include watching the sunset over the city, having a picnic at a beauty spot, or meeting for drinks at a cocktail bar.
Meeting Italians For Dates.
Italians are very outgoing people and so, unlike in many other parts of the world, it’s okay to approach people in public settings such as bars, clubs, festivals and even a local park or piazza. Flirting and giving people compliments are part of Italian culture so don’t be afraid to approach someone if you think you might make a good match. Of course, remember not to be pushy and always be kind and understanding if the answer is no!
This means that you don’t need to rely on dating apps and websites to meet a partner in Italy. However, if you prefer to meet people online then dating apps and websites are an increasingly popular way to meet new people in Italy.
Another way that Italians meet for dates is through their families. In fact, in many cases, family members act as match-makers to help people meet suitable partners for dating.
Italian Behavior On A Date.
Italians are often very tactile people who are comfortable with playful flirting and compliment-giving during a date, even on a first date! This might take a little getting used to if you come from a culture that is not so tactile. For instance, a traditional way to greet someone on a first date in Italy is to kiss them on both cheeks but, as with all things in dating, you will need to ‘read the room’ and judge whether it’s appropriate.
When it comes to other dating behaviors, it’s absolutely fine for the man to hold the door open for a woman and pull out her chair at a restaurant. Again, if you’re a man dating an Italian woman don’t overdo it and instead just show that you are thinking about the woman’s well-being and you should be fine!
Who Pays The Bill On A Date In Italy?
It’s common practice for the male to pay the bill on a date. This is because Italian men are raised to be chivalrous and enjoy playing up to traditional gender roles. However, in modern times, it’s increasingly normal for the couple to split the bill on a date. Once again, just be prepared to be flexible and ‘go with the flow’.
What Should You Wear On A Date In Italy?
Italy is a highly fashion-conscious culture so you’ll always be safest by really making an effort to dress up for a date. If you’re a man, you don’t need to turn up for a date at a cafe wearing a tuxedo but you should certainly wear a blazer, a shirt and a smart pair of trousers. Women have a lot of scope to dress up for a date and can wear a dress or any other attractive combination of attire.
Essentially, as long as you make an effort you will be okay while dating in Italy. So whatever you do, don’t turn up looking as if you have just woken up and haven’t had time to get ready!
Few Dating Tips Non-Italians Should To Be Aware Of.
There are a few things to know about your date:
Don’t Worry If Your Date Arrives Late.
In many cultures arriving late to a date, or any engagement, is considered to be the height of rudeness but in Italy, things are much less strict! Italian timekeeping is very different from the rest of the world and so if your date arrives 10 or 15 minutes late it’s really nothing to worry about. However, to be on the safe side, you should try to arrive on time, or slightly early, even if your Italian date takes a more relaxed approach to timekeeping.
Your Italian Date Probably Lives With Their Parents.
The vast majority of Italians live with their parents in their family home until much later than most Americans and other Northern Europeans, even if they have a high-paying job. This can seem strange, especially if you come from a culture where it’s common for people to leave home shortly after they finish school, but in Italy, it’s totally normal.
So whether you’re meeting an Italian man or woman for a date, don’t be surprised if they still live with their family, even if they’re in their late 20s or 30s. In fact, it’s quite common for Italians to live with their parents until they get married themselves. This is changing slowly, but the high cost of housing and other social factors mean that a lot of people still live with their parents until quite a late age compared to the United States.
You Might Know The City Better Than Your Date!
As amazing as it sounds, it’s quite likely that you’ll know the city, or surrounding areas, better than many local Italians. So if you’re an Expat who’s spent a lot of time visiting all the top attractions you’ll probably know more about the area than your Italian date.
This is because many Italians prefer to spend most of their time in their own neighborhood and rarely visit the major tourist attractions, galleries or museums in their own city. In fact, it’s a long-standing joke in Rome that most of the locals have never even been into the Colosseum! Therefore, don’t be afraid of making suggestions for a date and taking the lead when it comes to planning activities.
Tips When Dating Italian Women.
Be Confident When Dating An Italian Woman – Italian women tend to like men who are confident and have a passion for life. This means that you should make lots of eye contact, exude a casually confident air of believing in yourself and be brave enough to give the woman frequent compliments.
Italian Women Expect Men To Be Chivalrous – As a general rule, Italian women do expect men to be chivalrous, thoughtful and considerate during a date. For instance, you should open the door, pull out her chair and show her a great deal of respect and courtesy.
Show An Interest In Italian Culture – All Italians are fiercely proud of their cultural heritage so it’s a good idea to show an interest in all aspects of Italian culture. This also includes taking an interest in her family and their history. Most Italian women will be more than happy to talk about their families as well as other aspects of life in Italy. So if you’re stuck for something to say, then just remember you can always ask her about her family, the town she grew up in, local cuisine, or anything else about Italy’s diverse culture.
Tips When Dating Italian Men.
Embrace Italian Men’s Flamboyance And Passion – Italian men are typically quite flamboyant and have a confident and passionate personality. Italians tend to revel in the courtship process and so it’s a good idea to embrace their passionate natures and flamboyance. Italian men will often compliment women, even on first dates, so you should be prepared for lots of playful flirting.
Italian Men Have Strong Family Bonds – Italian men often have strong familial bonds and love to talk about their mother’s cooking, their family history and funny stories about their relatives. If you want a relationship to work out with an Italian man, you should be ready to take an interest in their family life, and, if things go well, take a very active role in their family life.
Dress To Impress – Italian men dress very well and they usually expect any potential suitor to dress equally well! So if you’re getting ready for a date with an Italian man then don’t be afraid to go the extra mile and really get dressed to impress. Incorporate accessories in your attire and never feel that you’re making too much effort since your Italian date will certainly appreciate the effort you’re making.
Dating In Italy Is An Exciting Adventure.
Whether you’ve been living in Italy for some time or are a visiting student, dating in Italy is hugely exciting and can be very rewarding. If you’re hoping to date an Italian then it’s always a great idea to try to learn some Italian! While it’s true that the majority of Italians do learn English in school, if you learn some basic Italian it will really show that you’re serious about immersing yourself in their culture.
Lastly, just remember that although many of the classical stereotypes about Italians are, broadly speaking, true, everyone is still an individual. So when you’re dating an Italian make sure you get to know the person and don’t simply expect them to conform to every stereotype that you may have heard about the country!