Today’s Oprah featured the parents of Amanda Knox defending their daughter who was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the death of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. I didn’t follow Amanda’s murder trial in Perugia, Italy closely enough to have an opinion on whether evidence proved her guilty of murdering her roommate. And as unsettling as it was to hear the guilty verdict last December, deep down I wasn’t surprised. I never thought she’d get off, even if she was innocent. As much as I love Italy — I’d move back in a heartbeat if I could afford it — the warm and fuzzy feelings aren’t always reciprocated toward foreign women.
When Americans are spending their money in Italy, the natives love us like one of their own. And when you chose to live in Italy rather than the United States as I did for two years, they say how “clever” you are, meaning intelligent. I have never met a race as ethnocentric as a whole as Italians (and I love them for this), who realize that while America may offer more conveniences, i.e. air conditioning and washing machines with brief cycles and dryers inside homes, their boot-shaped country really is the best in the world. Well, of course I would give it all up to live in their antiquated country because what wise woman wouldn’t?
But let a foreign woman hook up with an Italian as Amanda did with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and, well, you see what can happen. I remember being at the home of an older Italian female, whom I got to know well through mutual friends. The lady invited another Italian woman over for dinner that night and it was clear that this other woman was not going to be my new BFF. She told me about an Italian saying that basically says, “Get your wife and your cow from your own village.” It’s a way of saying stick to your own because you know what you’re getting. Or what this woman was telling me, Italian men should stick to their own women and leave the foreign women alone. I found Italian women to be skeptical of me and afraid I would take their man. I could tell stories here but I’m saving it for my book, Bellini for One.
While I was popular with the ragazzi (Italian men) in Italy, no surprise there, I only had a couple of Italian female friends and those handful had lived outside of Italy at some point in their life, thus giving them a broader view of the world. When an attractive, single woman moves to Italy, it is automatically assumed it is because she has an Italian lover or because she desires one. Italian men are legendary for pursuing any female with two legs and a pulse and having no regard for fidelity. Years ago, one American author wrote that Italian men treat a lone woman on the street like a dollar bill. In other words, you know he is going to try to pick her up.
Naturally, Amanda, being American, had an Italian beau. She was criticized for the above photo that shows the two kissing outside the house where her roommate lay dead. I wonder if she would have been viewed differently by the male and female jurors if she didn’t have an Italian boyfriend, who by the way was also found guilty and sentenced to 25 years. If she came off as just another foreigner living in Italy minding her own business and not depriving an Italian woman of Raffaele. This we’ll never know but I’ll always have my suspicions.