I'm about to leave Italy and am now well in to the second half of my trip. Next up is Greece and after quite a bit of time in Rome, I can't say I'm super sad to be moving on. While I love so many things about this country, there are a few things that are starting to get on my nerves -- namely the men.
Never, never, have I felt so objectified and preyed upon by men in my entire life. Walking down the street is a drain and passing by groups of police officers makes me feel as safe as a little boy at Michael Jackson's Neverland. Making eye contact is like saying you'll sleep with them, and if you smile or say more than your order to a waiter, you might end up pregnant.
The girlfriend I'm traveling with gets it even worse than I do since she can speak Italian and is more they're 'type' than I am. And, generally I wear a face that say's 'fuck off' to men more naturally after lots of practice and teenage years spent being an undesirable, but my poor friend had to adopt it here, and more importantly, wear it convincingly.
A shining example: At lunch last week, neither of us were in the mood to do more than eat and make conversation with each other, but we always order in Italian and (maybe since we're American?) this is seen as an invitation to be hit on. During our time there, one waiter touched her back while taking our order and later, another waiter came up and stroked her face when she was looking down in what maybe appeared to be a contemplative moment.
He literally came up and stroked her entire face with the back of his hand and tried to hold it for a moment! Had we not been so shocked, he would have lost a finger right then and there.
We've been proposed to while buying sodas, touched while trying to eat meals, moaned at while walking down the street and felt up on buses. Another friend told of how it's not uncommon for a man to expose himself to you. Extreme, yes, and probably by a lunatic, but nonetheless, peen in public, no other way to look at it.
The Italian women obviously don't set themselves up for it the way tourists do, since they have the best 'fuck off' faces of all. They walk down the street with purpose, never making eye contact, and never acknowledging the men around them, but I still wonder if they get it as badly as a tourist does? I would think not, otherwise it would be hard to procreate with someone who's opening line consisted of, "Very nice, very nice, the body and the face is all good, very nice."
No matter how hard one can try to fit in here, it's always going to be obvious that we're not locals. I can appreciate that. But I'm looking forward to going someplace where that fact alone means it's open season on my ass.