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The International Writers Magazine: Life in Italy

A Florentine Affair to Remember
Antonia Greco

My night started out like any other: a dinner of risotto, accompanied by the finest bottle of Chianti that five euro could buy. As usual, my friend LeeAnn and I wined and dined ourselves on top of the roof of my rented Italian penthouse, which overlooked the Arno River. In the city of Florence (and probably throughout all of Italy), it is highly illegal to sit on the historic Italian tile rooftops; but what did the realtors expect when they rented out a penthouse suite to American girls?

The streets of Florence were lined with luminous displays from Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and my personal favorite, Dolce & Gabbana. After dinner, as LeeAnn and I made our way down the cobblestone strada, dodging the ever so frequent "Ciao Bella!" we finally arrived at the club Dolce Zucchero. Translation: Sweet Sugar.

Unlike the clubs of New York that LeeAnn and I were used to, the clubs in Italy billowed with clouds upon clouds of smoke. The club was packed tight like a can of Italian sardines, peppered with only a handful of Americans. As we elbowed our way through the haze, the smell of cigarettes and fresh leather guided us to the sunken dance floor.
The beat of the music reverberated through my entire body, in sync with the beat of my heart. Entranced in my own world, my hips gyrated to the rhythm of the music.

With sweat pouring and hair flailing, all at once-- out of nowhere-- I yelped, "Ouch!" A hot, burning sensation sent tingles down my arm.
"Signorina, mi dispiace!" [Miss, I’m sorry!]

The man standing behind me had burnt me with the lit end of his cigarette! Upset and only moments away from tears, I rubbed my arm in agony when all of the sudden, to the left of me appeared a tall, dark, handsome young man. He extracted an ice cube from his drink and pressed its coldness against my arm.
"Lo faccio io, scusa!" [I’ll do it myself, thanks!] I quipped to the stranger.

Intrigued by my feistiness, the stranger grabbed my hand and pulled me to the center of the dance floor. As he looked into my eyes, he interlocked both of his hands with mine and began to…Tango?! Perplexed by this stranger and at a loss for words (both Italian and English), I followed his lead in this dance of love.

Embraced by the warmth of the hot lights, I twirled and dipped, having no idea what was happening to me. The environment around me soon became hazy as the complete stranger leaned in and whispered "Mi chiamo Massimo" [My name is Massimo.] And then as unpredictable as it was romantic, he leaned in and kissed me.
"Piacere," I replied. [Nice to meet you.]

As the night sky lightened into morning and the aroma of fresh pane [bread] filled the air, my eyes sparkled with a hint of sadness and a wonderment of desire. I gracefully ascended up the sixty-four stairs to the top of my building where my apartment resided. Still not quite sure what to make of my impromptu encounter, Massimo had taken my phone number before he had disappeared into the night-- but would he use it? Would I ever see him again?
My day continued as usual except my curiosity about this mysterious Italian stallion lingered through my mind.
Beep Beep Beep my phone screamed at me.
My heart pounded. It was the sound of a text message. I quickly opened its’ contents. It read:
"Ciao bella, meet me in the Piazza of the Duomo at 7, bacio (kiss) Massimo."

I leaped for joy! Che romantico! [How romantic!] It was a chilly night in Florence. I wrapped my Burberry scarf several times around my neck and with my Italian/English dictionary clutched in hand, I made my way to the Duomo: the cathedral of Florence.

The view of the Duomo at night was magnificent. People of all ages flocked to the piazza, enjoying the company of one another. "How will I ever find him?" I thought to myself. Soon I began to feel sick. My Italian wasn’t very good and his English was even worse! My stomach flocked with butterflies, until when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a familiar silhouette. It was Massimo. He suavely maneuvered towards me and greeted me with the standard Italian kiss: one on both cheeks. Then, quicker than the speed of light, he took my hand and we began to wander the streets of Firenze.

We sat down on a park bench that was positioned as randomly as this encounter. Conversation became frustrating, as I could not convey my speech in a comprehendible manner. Yet, like any communication barrier, I began to speak loudly thinking that maybe at that point he would understand what I was saying. I found myself nearly screaming to Massimo in conversation, frustrated that I could not get my point across. He lightly touched his finger to my lips and stuttered in the best English he could conjure up "eh hmmm you are…much…more….beautiful….when you speak in low voice."

I stopped and stared. Was he telling me to shut up? Yet, before I could rebuttal, he leaned in and kissed me--right on that very park bench, under the streetlight, atop of the cobblestone street--in one of the best cities in the world. La dolce vita.

We continued our walk past the Santa Maria Novella train station and to his car. "I want to take you…to special place." I thought to myself for a second: "Should I be getting into a car with a stranger in a foreign city"? Who cares!
Amazed by the compact size of his Italian car, I explained to him how I didn’t know how to drive a standard car. He gently took my hand and placed in on the shift and put his hand on top of mine "Guarda" [Watch.] "Uno….Due…Tre…" 1, 2, 3… he uttered after each change in gear. With our hands still intertwined, he abruptly pulled over the car, yanked up the parking brake and passionately began to kiss me. Then, as if that was a completely normal gesture, he resumed driving before I could even catch my breath.

My heart raced as we ascended to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo; a beautiful piazza, providing one of the best panoramic views of Florence, capturing the historic Duomo as the focal point from every angle. Massimo held me closely as we gazed into the cityscape.
Beep Beep Beep Massimo’s phone began to alert.
He opened his phone as we both looked down at the message.
It read: "Dove sei?!: [Where are you?] Ti amo! [I love you] -Sophia
I look at him. "Sophia?"
I violently flipped through the pages of my Italian/American dictionary, flipping straight to the letter "G". Gin, ginger, gird, girdle, girlfriend-AHA! Ragazza.
Hai una ragazza? (You have a girlfriend?)
Yep, just as I suspected, caught red-handed.

Someone had once asked me "Do Italian men love American woman?" Now, I can finally give a 'from experience' real life answer to that: Yes, Italian men do love American woman; they love to fool them! I bet Massimo was actually just an American guy that spoke Italian.

Moral of the story: Go to Italy if you enjoy complimentary ego boosts; but don’t be fooled by the Italian charm, the nice shoes.
Viva Italia!
© Antonia Greco April 2008
greco.antonia at

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