Don’t get too excited . . . I’m really just talking friendship. Men in Italy think nothing of walking down the road, arm in arm with each other. The other day walking down Albizi, I actually saw a man on a bike with his friend walking next to him with arms locked. No, it really isn’t what you are thinking (stop it Will). That is just the way they are here. Old friends link arms; I do occasionally see it with women, but not as often. The really old friends, grey heads and wrinkled smiles, are my favorite. It appears as if they are leaning into each other for support. Appropriate behavior once you’ve spent a lifetime together, don’t you think?
Several things make me sad about this. First, when did American men become so uptight about showing compassion towards each other? There is assumption and often (unfortunately) stigma if two men express companionship with each other. It seems wrong in a world that needs more humanity that we can’t touch the ones we care about without misinterpretation. On the flip side, revealing another reality, is that here—based on observation and chats with Italians—women rarely have true honest soul searching friendships with each other. Female friendships revolve around talking about husbands and children. One Italian told me she wanted to move back to the US mainly because her friends there meant more to her than the ones here. Italy, for all of its love of the Madonna, the mother, the lover and the feminine seems to lack a community between women. For someone who is incredibly fortunate to have female friends that give guidance, strength, memory, (therapy!) and love that void would be too much.
And on a completely unrelated, related note, read this poem.