Adultery al dente

To seduce an Italian wife you'll need at least two weeks, a puppy, after-Mass cakes for her aunts, a hire car and a love of Tony Blair, says Annalisa Barbieri

Italians are, according to a recent report, more forgiving of adultery than ever before. No news there, you may think - except that this time it's the women who are indulging in it and the men who are turning a blind eye (big, brave boys). Both sexes, apparently, are now acknowledging that adultery can do a marriage good.

Italians are, according to a recent report, more forgiving of adultery than ever before. No news there, you may think - except that this time it's the women who are indulging in it and the men who are turning a blind eye (big, brave boys). Both sexes, apparently, are now acknowledging that adultery can do a marriage good.

This is in blessed contrast to a case last year where Italy's highest court of appeal, the Court of Cessation, decided that just thinking about infidelity was as bad as doing it. The case ruled against - surprise, surprise - a woman who was having lustful thoughts about someone other than her husband. That's all she did, but her big mistake was telling someone. When it got back to her husband, he sued for divorce. She appealed, saying she had done nothing wrong. She lost.

For a while, that must have put the frighteners on Italian women. One hopes this latest report, although affording them no legal protection, will at least give some women the excuse to indulge in a bit of antipasto. Just in time for the holidays.

Italian women are not difficult to seduce mentally, although they may not succumb physically. This is because the shackles of 2,000 years of Catholic guilt bind them to the marital bed. And while they may be able to face their husband afterwards, the older female relatives in the family are another matter. These zie (aunties) can sniff out sinners faster than they can a week-old piece of Gorgonzola.

First, though, pick your region. Women in northern Italian towns or cities are the most modern of all. They will probably have had a few boyfriends before settling down, they have male friends and don't have to cross themselves at the mere mention of the word adultery. You can meet them in museums, or book shops - and you had better make sure you are up on local culture and politics because these babes will be. Italians take great pride in their history.

However, they have their weaknesses. They will probably ask you about Tony Blair. Have an opinion but make it favourable since they more than likely think he is a solid family man and the fact that he chooses Italy to holiday in makes him a good uovo in their eyes. Tell them that you live in Notting Hill and yes, you sort of know Hugh Grant. Liz Hurley? She's not a patch on Italian women.

The further south you go, however, the more old-fashioned the women become. If you have a penchant for danger then head for a southern Italian village where the women are really hot. Many of them will only have slept with one man - the one who became their husband - and after a few years may be curious to try another.

The first thing to remember about these Italian women in particular is that their future husbands initially chased them to within an inch of their lives. This courtship starts when the parties are between 11 and 13, with the dance of the motorini, or mopeds - where girls are circled by mopeds while being complimented. Eventually - his advances will be refused for months - he is allowed in famiglia, they start going out, the fierce chasing stops, and they begin acting like an old married couple circa 1950 (Italian men do not do housework). Her pretty dresses will be packed away, swapped for something more practical, such as an apron.

There is a strict code of honour among (most) Italian men that once a girl is going out with someone, she is left alone. Which means that for some of these women, it will have been many years since they have been wooed and complimented.

You'll need at least a fortnight's holiday to seduce her, so start on your first day which, if you've planned this properly, is market day. Married Italian women always wear their wedding rings and they shop alone. Asking advice - "Is this pear ripe?" (" Questa pera ÿ matura?") - will appeal to their helpful nature as well as having a saucy double meaning.

Or find the stall selling children's shoes and ask if she thinks these sandals will fit a four-year-old (" questi sandali vanno bene per un bambino di quattro anni?"). You don't have to specifically say you have a four-year old. That way she will know you are married, too - since of course it isn't possible to have children outside the sanctity of marriage - and she can pretend to herself that she is safe with you.

Sunday, after church and when the passegiata takes place - when everyone walks up and down and up and down in the village square - is another good time to meet a woman. She will be with her family but, usually, the men will be in the bars catching up with their friends. A dog is a good accessory here, a puppy even better (I never said this was going to be easy). That way, the children will drag their mother towards you. Be nice to the children, but notice her first, since she will be used to being seen as a mother first and a woman third (wife: second). If she is with older female relatives, notice them first and ooze charm, otherwise you have no chance.

To be really crafty, mention a wife and then offer to take the ladies for cake and pastries - the latter being a great Sunday after-Mass tradition. If she's alone, forget about the wife act and just ask her. She'll probably say no, but you'll have made an impression. Keep asking every time you see her. Be nice, poetic, slightly embarrassed. But keen. They are used, remember, to the skilled seduction techniques of Italian men.

A word of warning, once the affair has started: never, ever get caught. Italian men north of Rome may apparently turn a blind eye, but south of the capital all Italian women have brothers. Get a map, hire a car, get thee out of town to spend quality time together. Pick her up at about 2pm, siesta time, and have her back by 5.

No matter which part of Italy you go, there are three golden rules. Never disrespect an Italian woman's parents, husband, children, nonni or zii, even if she complains about them. Don't mention God but if He comes up, be respectful about Him. Don't slag off your own parents or siblings but if you are married it is permissible to say you respect your wife enormously but " non mi capisce".

When you leave, don't promise to write. She won't want you to. And don't fall in love - she will never leave her family for you.

Finally, let's not forget Italian men. How to seduce them? Be female.

 

Annalisa Barbieri would like to apologise to God, her mother and father and all her many relatives in small northern and southern Italian villages for this article which she was forced to write, at gunpoint, by a non-Catholic editor. And she would like to make it clear that no member of the Barbieri family is an adulterer/ess and, further, that every Italian man is a king

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