How I Fell in Love with an Italian Man
We were just acquaintances in Rome, part of a circle of international friends in the urban suburbs. He was a well-traveled and cultured export manager for a motorcycle company, traveling often to the Middle East. I was a carefree Irish student with a party lifestyle and had just booked a regular spot as a femme fatale vocalist in a popular cabaret club in Rome. I had put a troubled seven-year relationship and a house in Ireland on hold.
I rarely spoke to the Italian, his intense stare seeming intimidating.
He asked me through friends to pose for some photos for a photography show he was doing. I entered his room in my red costume dress from the club and posed for the theme of the photos, “temptation,” beside his impressive collection of books and films. He lifted me in one shot, wearing a Casanova mask and a spark was lit.
“Stop trying on all those dresses and try to be on time,” he wrote while I was getting prepared.
After that we ended every party or dinner locked in conversation. His Romanesque features; strong jaw, piercing eyes and dark curls eased into my thoughts at university. He was suave and self-assured, nothing I had experienced before. He suggested a dinner together though we had never been alone. “Stop trying on all those dresses and try to be on time,” he wrote while I was getting prepared. He had three pre-booked options for dinner and I chose a neighborhood restaurant in San Lorenzo, an edgy underground area he remembered I had never been to.
The hours slipped by when he offered me another surprise. Before long we were winding upwards through lush canopies to the mountains outside Rome. I had no idea where I was in the darkness. We turned a corner and the earth fell away to show the lights of Rome sparkling in the valley below beyond a moonlit mass of water. We were at the lake of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence. On the road back we sat in a contented silence. He remained a total gentleman and I caught myself smiling for days.
“Let me cook for you,” my Italian Casanova wrote to me back in Rome.
The day after his photography show he ended his relationship of six months to a beautiful girl he had tried to love. Even if I left Rome, he knew it wasn’t right. A few nights later we found ourselves on the windswept seashore of Ostia, a popular beach spot for Rome locals. He took me in his arms and we kissed for the first time. The realization of what I had to do rushed upon me.
I flew home with the heavy task of ending any hope that I would return to my ailing relationship. “Let me cook for you,” my Italian Casanova wrote to me back in Rome. From a whole menu to choose from I opted for my favorite, linguine with clams. He showed up to my place in a low cut T-shirt that showed his tan and continued to reek havoc in the kitchen, moving like the room was too small for him and leaving behind a gorgeous mess of chopped herbs and strewn garlic. The days and weeks that followed were hazy and serene.
When I later returned to Rome after my studies, he offered me his spare room while I was setting myself up. It was quick and we soon learned that stubborn Irish people and hotheaded Italians make for a fiery mix. But our passion for each other never waned. A few months ago we began renovating an abandoned villa near the city built by his great-grandfather in the rolling olive tree countryside of Palombara Sabina. We celebrated our two-year anniversary in our little haven, with the lights of Rome once again sparkling below us.