Cultural differences are evident in many areas of a society: lifestyle, values, ways of socializing. The way we live and experience sex is also sign of such differences.
Even within Italy, we think and speak about sex in different manners but, while it’s impossible to say every Italian thinks the same way about it, without a doubt there is a common substratum we can outline.
Italians and sex: once upon a time…
The way we Italians view and experience sex changed drastically throughout history. In the past, sex was considered a taboo subject. In Italy, just like in so many other European countries, this was perhaps due to the powerful influence of the Catholic Church on society. Before that, of course, we had the Romans, who were pretty open about their sexuality and whose freedom of mores astonishes many still today.
Certainly, sex wasn’t a topic commonly discussed in public, nor did it have a place on national media. It was something confined to our bedrooms, something people did but refrained from discussing. In this, let’s be honest, Italy didn’t differ much from other western countries. Sexuality was a private matter then, but things changed, in Italy as everywhere else in the world, especially after the cultural and social movements of the 1960s, when sexuality turned into a symbol of freedom and personal affirmation, especially for women.
Italians and Sex: sex is natural
One thing Italians always had on their side is a positive, natural attitude towards their bodies and body contact in general: it may be because we like to hug and kiss one another a lot, but one thing we would never be accused of is certainly of being frigid. Of course, that’s not the same as sex, but it tells a lot about the way the people of Italy truly feel about sexual encounters and sexuality: it’s part of our lives and it’s natural. Even in times when we wouldn’t openly talk about our bedroom activities, we never had, on average, the unnervingly negative attitude towards intercourse the Puritans of the Mayflower or your stereotypical Victorian had.
Sex was natural, but better kept within the very private walls of the bedroom. Especially if you were a woman. Especially if you had to keep up appearances in society.
Italians and sex: what about today?
Things have, of course, changed a bit in Italy in the past 40 years. The 60s brought sexual freedom and contraception for women, while the 70s legalized abortion. In the 80s, fear of venereal diseases, and especially of AIDS, put a heavy damper on those flower-power dreams of sex, peace and bell bottoms: all of a sudden, we were left, just like the rest of the world, with a tremendous fear of contagion, which slowed things down for a while.
Today, things have settled, or so it seems: Italians are more careful and mindful about the risks of unprotected sex, yet, they remain fond of it. The average age for the first sexual experience is currently 17 for girls and 14 for boys in Italy. This is a difference of up to four years compared to the past, in particular to the 30s-40s. Not only has the age for our first experience changed, but so has the context.
Previously, many would have their first sexual encounter with their spouse. Now, however, the majority have an active sexual life before marriage, demonstrating a clear evolution in the way we see sex. Earlier sex, however, seems to come with some extra issues: data show that the majority of young sexually active Italians snobs contraception and that the rates of both teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections have been rising: we do it earlier, but are we mature enough to do it?
Italians do it better: or do they?
Our idea of sex and the way the nation relates to it has changed. We keep on living it with freedom, just as with freedom we think about and talk of our bodies, yet, our youth seem to be less responsible than their parents were. Again, though, this is far from being a typically Italian thing: it appears to be an unfortunate, international trend.
But let’s come to the crunch, shall we… Let’s come to that one stereotype we Italians love to embrace, that one stereotype about us that ends up on t-shirts and we are happy to say it’s true: Italians do it better. Even Madonna wore a tee saying it.
Recent statistics collected in the Rapporto Coop 2017 show that, in the last 15 years, there has been a decrease in sexual activity of about 10%, across all age brackets. Apparently, those having less sex than everyone else are the Italians aged 35-40, where only three couples in ten do it more than once a week. Our national expenditure for condoms has also decreased of 6%.
So here, in the nation that made of Latin Lovers a symbol of its prestige around the world, people’ve been losing interest in sex. It is unclear if, the research continues, we are facing a mere loss of interest in the seductive arts, or if we are dealing with an actual loss of sexual desire.
Well, considering 75% of Italians declares to be worried about the fact they no longer fell like to do it, it seems the latter is our answer.
But we still enjoy sex, in the end
Of course we do, because who doesn’t? It’s not only the Italians who have been experiencing an apparent loss of interest in sex, it’s the world… alas, too many thoughts and too many worries, too much pressure. But all in all, even if they do it less, Italians will always love sex: it is, in the most beautiful and complete of its descriptions, a moment of joy and life, a time of immense freedom and sharing and, well, the ultimate way to show one’s charms. And there isn’t anything Italians love more than joy, life, freedom and being charming.
So, is it true that Italians do it better?
The answer, really, remains very subjective, but we certainly remain enamored with the idea of still being the best lovers in the world.
Read more about the Latin Lover fame of Italians on our article The New Latin Lover.