‘In Italy I Kept Meeting Guys’: The Black Women Who Travel for Love

Despite Italy’s troubles with racism, African-American women are traveling to the country for love, and finding it.

Comments: 38

  1. Why not? Two vibrant cultures that believe life is for living. I wish those women, and their partners, the best.

  2. @kim lovely indeed!

  3. I tell all the young women in my life, if your dating market doesn't suit you, don't change yourself, change the market. Somewhere in the world, there is a place where your particular charms and assets will be admired and sought after. Glad these ladies found their spot.

  4. @chiringa : The same goes for men. There are some places where women ignore men like me, and some places where they are receptive and friendly. Guess which places I favor?

  5. "I fell in love with her smile and the happiness that I saw in her eyes,” Mr. La Cognata said. “She’s a beautiful woman, so I was obviously struck by that as well. Over time I was also attracted to her sense of independence, strength of character.” Beautiful sentiment. We should cultivate healthy, generous, loving relationships wherever we find them.

  6. @AT Amen. It's not just black American women who find romance in Italy, though. It's where the word comes from, afterall.

  7. The film Roman Holiday is filmed in Rome. Yes. It is romantic. Yes. It has *nothing* to do with Italian men or even romantic overtures, for that fact. Certainly not of the kind indicated by the author who obviously has never watched this lovely film. In the film, Audrey Hepburn plays a young European princess who has travelled to Rome for crown and country business. Gregory Peck is an American journalist who stumbles upon the princess who has snuck away to not-be-princess for a night and has gotten herself into a compromising situation. He comes to her rescue, figures out who she is and,over a day or two, attempts to get a story without her knowing. He ultimately decides to maintain her privacy because he has come to care for her personally. In other words, about as far away from oogling, pseudo suave, Italian male stereotype as possible.

  8. @jill otey Nice observation. Apart from a tour to the spots where Peck's character takes Hepburn's character, the rest of the material covered in this story is the opposite of what the movie is about. Glibness is a problem indeed. That said, good for the folks who are finding happiness wherever they can. Life is too short to let the hang-ups and hatreds of other people from stopping us from living our true and full selves. No more chattel, serfs, slaves, indentured, ... only free citizens of the world! True Freedom!

  9. @jill otey Hey, who are you calling "pseudo suave"?

  10. As an Italian-American, I still have family in Italy and have been there multiple times. I love Italy, but having reached retirement age; if I went looking for romance it would be more like “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.” Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

  11. Not surprised by this story. In Tinadari Sicily is a huge cathedral to the Black Madonna. It works the other way, too. Italian women are open to African American men. I say love is love and skin color is just the version of the earth suit we all must wear. Happy for these couples and the happiness they have found in each other!

  12. @Ro - thank you for the 'earth suit' comment - I have been pushing this notion myself for a long time - how many of us actually had a choice in which 'earth suit' we would find ourselves in - nobody , so why are we so hung up on the flavors we encounter....so much evil has been put on one flavor or another for no reason other than it's color, and that soul living in said 'suit' is captive & yearning to be free & understood for itself.......all of us should recognize this situation & be a little more gentle with each other.....fellow-prisoner how will you see this 'suit' of mine ? Like me wouldn't you swap it for a different model given the choice...let me see...wild red hair, green eyes, long slender body....hmmm that would be lovely !!!

  13. Love knows no borders, politics, skin colors, ages or genders.

  14. I am happy for these women. At the end of the day, we all just want to be loved and respected, wherever we can get it.

  15. 'Alicia Rozario, a black woman who lives in Seattle and is traveling to Milan for a month in April to decide if she wants to move permanently, said she thinks some skepticism is valid. “I’m well aware of the fact that Italians are intrigued because we’re black — there’s a little bit of exoticism with that, so you have to filter like when you date anywhere else,” she said.' excerpt from the feature My heart hurt as I read this feature story. When I think of the vibrant, charming, warm, brilliant Black women I've known and worked with, it simply hurts to think of how some very likely have encountered barriers to romantic love based primarily in race. And reading the quotation from Alicia Rozario (above) also reminds me that so many factors besides genuine attraction to the person that a woman is can affect romantic possibilities. That "bit of exoticism" of course has its allure, but it also, of course, speaks to how women are so often objectified rather than fully appreciated for who they are. I've long since had to recognize that I'll never live long enough to see an end to the myriad forms of racism that plague people in the U.S. and elsewhere. I'm especially sad to think that we're probably neurologically programmed to place far too much emphasis on phenotypical differences in relationships. I try to stay hopeful. I've always been inspired by the profound truths evoked by the lyrics of Rogers & Hammerstein's "You've Got to Be Taught." More should think about this.

  16. @DameAlys : That "bit of exoticism" of course has its allure, but it also, of course, speaks to how women are so often objectified rather than fully appreciated for who they are. The "bit of exoticism" works on women too. Look at the numbers of mixed race couples and you usually see more white women dating non-white men. I'm not denying the reality of objectification and racism, I just disagree that exoticism is exclusive to males. Also, do I detect the hint of an assumption that blacks are exotic to Italians, but Italians are not exotic to blacks? Latrese Williams is in a relationship with an Italian man; to her, he is no doubt exotic.

  17. Having lived in Italy for many years I can say there are many men aged 40-60 who have never been married. Maybe they see, for the first time in their lives, women who are more open and adventurous than what they have experienced. I don’t know the answer but thanks for the positive article.

  18. I love this piece! great story and perspective from black women. How enterprising!

  19. What happens to Americans of Italian ancestry relative to race here in this nation? Also, what's the issue with the denigration of the African-American female in American culture? See the rancid treatment of Mrs. Michelle Obama, to this day.

  20. I think black women should travel and explore the world, and wherever they find love is a wonderful. However, they could easily date and marry men of other races and nationalities in the US. I don't see the point of traveling that far for the sole purpose of seeking romance with European men when the right man may very well be working or living near by.

  21. I was in Italy for two weeks last summer. Rome, Florence, Venice and smaller towns in Tuscany. I'm a married white/hispanic male so I can't speak to the article. I did notice, however, that there were very few non-italians there (other than tourists). I also noticed very few were over-weight. I made the effort to learn italian moderately well before the trip. Honestly, if I were single I would move there tomorrow, just because it's a great place to live.

  22. Thank you for this article! I would like to refer to a comment made by Ms. Ufomata that we shouldn’t promote the idea that black women have a hard time finding love in America. The reality is that black women do have a hard time with love, dating, etc in America. I am a biracial American woman. I have had countless encounters of men attempting to understand what I am “mixed with” when they first meet me. I know the reality of men have “turning away” when I tell them I am half black (and some don’t care). The reality is that our “value” in the dating pool in America is not the same as White women, Asian women, or Hispanic women. The reality is that race is deeply ingrained in how we associate value to people in this country (I can’t speak of other countries).

  23. I think the one element that is not mentioned is "charm" an element or quality some European men have in mass. I remember at my office hearing the sound of light laughter and giggling coming from the reception area. There in the midst of nearly every woman working on that floor stood an Argentinian man who had stepped into our office to find the Argentinian consulate located on our floor. I had never before witnessed such genuine charm bestowed on every woman present that day no matter their race or age. The only other time I witnessed this was from an Italian male.

  24. The first time I traveled to Italy, which was 20 years ago, I was struck by the attention and adoration my best friend and I received from Italian men. It was like a breath of fresh air, and I wish these women all the best!

  25. It is often true that one is treated better away from one’s home. The appreciation of difference speaks to the best in us. It suggests openness and the realization that we’d are ultimately similar in our need to love and be loved. As long as one isn’t valued solely for emerging as being different, it’s all all good. Nationalism/race/etc are mere agreements engineered centuries ago by the most powerful. If one can find love anywhere, be happy, even if short sighted customs/beliefs exist. Love is still worth it.

  26. Thanks for the well-researched great story, for identifying the trend but also not just taking it at face value. As an American expat, I can also say that the expat life, even when one has a non-expat partner, is very challenging, as is learning a new language as an adult. Not the easiest way to begin a relationship! But I am empathetic to the reasons behind it.

  27. Italians don't have anything like the baggage towards african americans that white americans do resulting from the history of slavery in the U.S. This would explain why they are more relaxed and eccepting of black american women in general.

  28. " Despite Italy’s troubles with racism " I don't think that there is more racism in Italy than in the US !

  29. I love the beautiful photo of Gichele Adams and her family by the photographer Alessandro Grassani. Notice the serious cat looking in the window to the right.

  30. The photograph of Ms. Gichele Adams and her family is awesome.

  31. Nice to read of the real relationships that develop, but I do not like to read of women who just 'move in' with a boyfriend they have just met....shouldn't you all be holding out for a while until you are sure of the reason why he is pursuing you ? It all sounds a bit desperate. However we all want nothing but happiness & prosperity for all, so what works is all that matters ! Hopefully those Italian men do not fall into the stereotypes that prevail.....love tends to blind you to the truths that might have shown themselves if you waited until you knew them better.

  32. I have been told by so many people how great Italy is that I have developed an aversion to the place, and I am sure that if I went there it would be the worst trip of all. Things like, « in Italy, if you never lie, people think that you have no imagination », are the starting place for my gravely serious doubts.

  33. Quite ironic that gender norms in Italy are far less progressive than here in America. Catcalling and propositioning female passerbys remains quite normalized in addition to a lack of respect shown for women's personal space. Let's keep in mind the fact that Italy's present far right government is viciously anti-migrant in sentiment. African footballers have encountered racial invectives and physical abuse from fascistic football hooligans in stadiums. Overall, this article speaks volumes about the extent of white worship and internalized racism amongst American POCs - Europe isn't a fairytale land of foreign princes bereft of serious antiblackness.

  34. The racism I've experienced from NY Italians has turned me off to the idea of traveling to Italy. Although I did visit Venice last year for the first time to attend the Biennale, I don't feel the need to travel to a country where there are so many openly hostile racists. I can relish that kind of treatment right here in the good ole USA.

  35. I am a Italian-American man who has been together with my beautiful Black wife for nearly 30 years. As we say, we did it way before Meghan and Harry. We have 2 African-American children which we adopted as we felt the disproportionate balance of African-American children in the foster care system needed to be addressed. I also feel that African-American women can reach out as there are many White males in the US that are interested in having relationships with Black women. The stigma of "crossing over" is an undue burden given to Black women by society while Black men marry White women in relatively high numbers. When my children were younger (they are now in their 20's) sometimes people would look at our family like we came from outer space. Best example of this was in the ER my daughter was in triage and I walked in the room. The nurse asked me "who are you" and my daughter exclaimed "That's my daddy!" The nurse dropped her clipboard. In the media of late, many commercials now feature families with black women, white men and bi-racial children. Chase Bank, Infiniti and Tide show excellent examples of respectful portrayals of families. Hopefully all this can open hearts and minds to simply allow everyone to love the person they choose to.

  36. i was wondering who else had seen “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.” i was the Key Grip on the Rome part. I'm glad to see this article as i have seen so much racism and out and out hate against people of color in Italy. the Italian political shift towards populism hasn't helped either. thanks!

  37. Well, this explains the results of my DNA testing! I'm a white male with some southern Italian ancestry. But I turned out to have *no* ethnic Italian in my makeup; it was a mixture of Spanish, Turkish, North African and West African. In short, a taste for the exotic seems to have been fairly common in those parts for a long time...