That’s when I started traveling to Italy. I followed Julia Roberts (Eat, Pray, Love) and Diane Lane (Under a Tuscan Sun). They were both writers. They’d both ended their marriages. Then they both fell in love with Italy. Obviously, a Roman holiday was my next step.
Every year since, I have gone back. Alone. And every time, I learn something new–about myself, about life and often about men. (Let’s face it: There is no getting away from them, even if we want to. Especially in Italy.) On my second trip to Rome, I met Massimiliano–he was a charming, beautiful Italiano who put an end to my 20-month dating hiatus.
And broke my still somewhat fragile heart.
Recently I returned to Italy for a post-holiday vacation, and Massi and I reunited. Kind of. If you have a minute, you can read what happened the first time we met. In a nutshell, it involved cheesy lines, delicious champagne, awkward sex and, unbeknownst to me, his girlfriend.
This time, I was determined to right any wrongs and send Max a clear message: I will not be played, even in the face of gorgeous dark eyes, a sexy Italian accent and light-up-the-room smile. I was after one thing: Empowerment. I wanted to walk away this time with my integrity–and my clothes–intact.
And I did exactly that. But not without some significant attempts on his part to get me back into bed. Here’s how things went down:
Max saw that I was in Italy via Facebook and messaged me. “Sienna! I see you are in Italia. Will you be in Rome? It would be my pleasure to enjoy your company.”
I responded. “Yes, Max, I will be. My company? Maybe dinner or a glass of wine. How does that sound?”
Max: “Great! I would be delighted. You are so pretty and you haven’t aged. What’s your secret? You are still the beautiful, sexy woman I met two years ago.”
Me: “Ah, Max . . . you’re still a sweet talker.”
Ah, Massimiliano. You’re still the stereotypical smooth-talking Italian douchey player clearly hoping to butter me up and get me naked again. The difference was, this time I knew better.
Max picked me up from my hotel lobby (after asking for my room number because, of course, he wanted to be a gentleman and pick me up right at my door, duh) and took me to an adorable Italian trattoria for spaghetti carbonara, cacio e pepe and delicious wine. I made sure he paid.
Afterward, he whisked me around Rome and showed me the sites at night–the Colliseum lit up in all its splendor, Palatine Hill with its gorgeous views, Vatican City and St. Peter’s basilica, with it’s magnificent Michelango-designed dome.
And then I wanted gelato. Of course. And he paid. Of course.
Through it all, this much was clear: My dear Massimiliano wanted sex. Here’s a sampling of his cheesy lines, all drenched in a thick Italian accent:
“You’re so sexy . . . your lips, your eyes. Do you know what your smile does to me?”
“Sienna, don’t look at me like that! You get me aroused so easily, with just one glance.” (Disclaimer: I wasn’t even looking at him, I was looking at Valentino. We were driving in a fabulous shopping district.)
“Making love with you would be so sweet. I remember the first time–we had such good chemistry!” (Disclaimer #2: Good chemistry? Maybe. But please. Our first time was awkward as hell.)
“Sex isn’t just me putting my penis inside you . . . we could do other things. Oral things.”
And when he started to get really desperate:
(Taking my hand and placing it on his crotch): “Can you feel what you do to me? Just your eyes . . . see how aroused you make me?” (Disclaimer #3: There wasn’t much to feel. He wasn’t that hard. And he’s not very big. There was no groping on my part.)
Finally at one point, I turned to him and said, “Max. I don’t understand. You still have a girlfriend, no? And yet you sleep with other women. This isn’t wrong to you?”
Max: “Well, I don’t fuck around with just anyone. Only the pretty girls. Or my exes.”
Me: “Does your girlfriend sleep with other men?”
Max: “Oh no! I mean, I don’t think so. Why would she? I keep her satisfied, she doesn’t need to.”
Me: (rolling my eyes) “Well . . . to be clear, I won’t be inviting you to my room this time. Not tonight. Not ever.”
Max: “But why not?! Making love with me would make you so happy!”
It was right about then that I decided I was sufficiently full of spaghetti, gelato, sight seeing and Max’s ridiculous bullshit cheesy lines.
I had him take me back to my hotel where I refused to let him walk me in (“I can manage on my own, Max”) but where he did sneak in a big wet kiss. He was all tongue–I guess this was his last-ditch effort to seduce me.
I felt like I’d just had my face licked off by a labradoodle.
“Max. This isn’t happening tonight. But thank you for dinner and for the
He looked at me with those big dark Italian puppy dog eyes and said, “I’m so glad I got to see you again, Sienna. Be well.” Rejected. Dejected. His Italian ego was hurt. And he would have to take his package home and unwrap it all by himself.
I walked myself back to my room. Alone. Fully clothed. Fully satisfied. And sufficiently empowered.
I’m not gonna lie: I love charming men. I mean, I eat up charm like sprinkles on a cupcake. A sexy accent can make me week in the knees. I have been known to be sucked in by a cheesy line or two. In all honesty, there’s still a part of me that’s attracted to douchey players of any ethnicity. Old habits die hard, am I right? I have always, always loved the type of men who are smooth with women.
But now? Well, now I love me more. And being able to revisit this part of my past and do things differently was slightly healing.
On this lovely evening in glorious Italia, I put myself to bed, thankful that I wouldn’t be waking up in the morning with a sexy Italiano licking my face and a heart aching with regret.
I don’t think I want to be single forever. But sometimes it’s good to know that, if I am, I’ll rock it pretty damn well.