Men and Boys

by Natalie Cammarata
IF THERE'S ONE THING I LEARNED from the bar scene in Italy, it's the difference between Italian men and Italian boys.

Back home, teenage boys are shy to approach girls who are older than them. In Italy? Not so much. Right here in Cagli I've witnessed the attack of the Italian 16-year-old. They come out at night, like animals on the hunt, and they prey on the older American girl.

Some people might find this flattering or cute, but for the average American 21-year-old it's not only annoying but can actually be frightening. I've seen friends surrounded by two, three, four young boys at a time, asking things like "Which one of us is your favorite?" in broken, spotty English.

And, after you've turned a corner, thinking you've lost the young animals, five minutes later they're back on your case. Like leeches or parasites or some sort of blood-sucking creature.

And while the young Italians with their baby faces are on your case, the Italian men are pulling you aside and asking slyly, "What-a are you studying?" These men range in age from 18 to 80 and sometimes it's hard to tell.

Although both young and old Italian men have a tendency to take interest in American girls, at least the men can carry a conversation about something more interesting than the latest Jovanotti song.