"Americana!! Americana!!" was an exclamation heard everywhere that our group ventured in Italy, but it was never uttered more than by those adorable native boys which a certain female faction of the exchange group affectionately dubbed "yummies." Yes, that's right ladies, I'm talking about Italian boys. A moment of silence please.
With skin-tight jeans (ask David for his pet name for their britches-strictly off the record, of course), opened collars, gold chains, and black spiked hair, Italian boys certainly added vast amounts to the already beautiful landscape of Italy. Whether reclining on benches in the town square, strolling the streets, or scooting around on zippy little mopeds, boys were everywhere and always (to both the joy and misfortune of us unsuspecting girls) in packs. Never numbering less than four or five, they all seemed to have a keen fascination for us Americans-especially us American girls. We were almost a novelty to them, and as many of them pointed out in their very broken English, they were tired of Italian girls and found the Americans to be refreshing and even a bit exotic. This fascination led them to be very gentlemanly and quite forward.
But considering their out-going natures, attractive appearances and even the ever-present cigarette dangling from their mouths, the most remarkable aspect about the Italian boys is their social behavior.
    To illustrate this conduct, let me first start with my dearest friend and Italian boy-magnet, Emily, and explain one of her numerous experiences. It all happened on March 24th. Our group was with the Lonigo folks then, and we were venturing to Venice for a day of sight-seeing. On the way there, Emily and I were seated toward the front of the bus and were chatting about nothing in particular. Unexpectedly a little white slip of paper was passed forward and delivered priority mail directly to Emily. Upon reading it, she discovered it to be a mini love letter, which said something along the lines of "we like the American girl with the purple hair and would like to meet her." The note was signed "the Italian boys in the back of the bus." After being harassed by boys continually at the disco a few days before, this was not new to Emily and she took it all in stride. In fact, after spending the greater part of the day following Abigail and I around the Mayan Exhibition and the streets of Venice, the boys finally got to meet Emily and spent that evening in Lonigo with her and her sister. It turned out to be quite a pleasant gathering and despite their previous boldness, the boys were very sociable. Emily and Brandy also have fond memories of a group they dubbed the "Moped Gang." You'll have to ask them about that.
    As for myself, I certainly hold fond memories of Italy and its fine male
specimens-specifically the Romagnano boys. Unfortunately, Ashley and I were the only ones on the trip who got to experience their splendor, but so it goes. Besides neither of us wanted to share them anyway. In Romagnano, our home town, there is a yearly celebration at Easter called "Venerdi Santo" or "Holy Friday," during which the town decorates its store windows and balconies to look like ancient Rome and several stages are constructed all over town where scenes of Christ's final days are reenacted. People come from miles around to see this, and the joint certainly was jumping when we went to it. As we strolled around, Giulia and Elisa, our Italian hosts, introduced us to their many friends and word quickly spread that Americans were in the vicinity. Boys gathered in droves around us and, as always, made it a group effort to piece together sentences in English.
    It was during this celebration that Ashley and I first experienced the Italian version of what we Americans call "getting the hook-up." After coordinating their game plans, the Italian boys gather in a group around you and appoint a ring-leader. (In Romagnano it was always "Big Fish Boy," whose nickname I cannot explain due to the smothering grasps of censorship) First, the ring leader steps forward and attempts to briefly chat with you about where you are from and musical tastes. He quickly moves onto the next phase. All the available boys line up before you, and the ring leader points to each one and asks pointedly, "You think he beautiful? You like him?" At first you laugh and think he's joking. But no, no, he's not joking. The ring leader expects a yes or no answer immediately. If it is the former, you are the chosen boy's girl for the evening and you stroll around with him, arm in arm or holding hands. It all seems almost medieval. But Ashley and I weren't the only ones who experienced this phenomenon. Emily, Abigail, Brandy and Billie related similar experiences as well. Of course, from what I saw it was relatively harmless and no one ever went along with the boy's designs. It was actually very amusing and a big boost to a girl's self-esteem.
    In the end, "Venerdi Santo" is definitely one of the most treasured memories for both Ashley and myself because of the interesting social behavior we encountered and most importantly because of all the "yummy" Italian boys we met. However, of all the "yummies" we hung out with or saw, I cannot go without mentioning the most delicious of them all-Mattia. He was definitely the stud of Romagnano and even the Italian girls agreed with that. Ashley, Giulia, and myself were fortunate enough to spend our final evenings in Romagnano with him and his friends. Luckily neither of us were forced to endure the "hook-up" ritual with him. Anyone interested in seeing this fine specimen just ask me, and I will proudly display his picture for you to appreciate..Sigh, the memories.
    All in all, socializing in general and specifically with the Italian boys added a lot to my trip and helped make my evenings out or the time away from the magnificent historical sights more enjoyable. Overall, the people of Italy were very open and out-going, and the boys had a greatly appreciated interest in us American girls. They were entertaining and most definitely aesthetically pleasing. Each girl who went on the trip surely has one anecdote about the boys to add to their repertoire of stories and certainly has learned some very valuable Italian words-Belissimo and Figo!!!!


                              Kristine Brabson