Italy by Numbers: Quicker Divorce

74% want shorter waiting period
3 years, current waiting period
9.4% + increase in divorces, since 1995

The life cycle of the Italian family is changing — longer engagements, bigger weddings, fewer children and shorter marriages. Divorce is still relatively new in this Catholic country — allowed by a 1974 referendum — and lengthy legal separations (a three-year minimum) mean ending a marriage isn’t taken lightly.

Though Italy has the lowest divorce rate in Europe, this may soon change if lawmakers approve a current proposal to reduce the waiting time to a year — when the formal separation period was reduced from five years to three, rates increased more than 9%.

While divorce, Italian style stereotypically conjures up images of crashing plates, raging jealousy and lifelong vendettas — 86,4% of Italian divorces are no-fault and around 30% of couples who legally separate never get a formal divorce.

Nevertheless, the number of divorces and type change radically from North to South — about three times more couples decide to call it quits in the upper half of Italy, but those that decide to split in the Mezzogiorno are more likely to contest the divorce. The average marriage lasts 13 years and there are few "repeat offenders" — of those who remarry, only 1.1% get divorced or separated again. ?1999-2004

Zoomata is the brainchild of a bilingualjournalist based in Italy who thinks out of the box. This brain is for hire.

Related resources:
Divorce Italian Style
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Italy by Numbers: Here Comes the Bride

Italians Celebrate St. Faustino Protector of Singles Feb.15

Italian singles, tired of being in the shadows for St. Valentine’s day celebrations, have proclaimed their own saint and feast day.Feb. 15 has been named San Faustino Single Pride day, a day of awareness of the ‘status single’ with a special focus on the problems and discrimination faced by people who are not married.

“Everyone could use a saint to watch over them,” says president Annalisa Fattori. Fattori started the association based in Milan with three friends. “And not a few people have come out of sticky emotional situations thanks to the help of this beacon of singledom.”

San Faustino made a splash as the single saint in 2002, leading daily Corriere della Sera estimated that some two million Italians will party in his honor this year.

They couldn’t have picked a better representative: San Faustino, though not widely known, was a combative martyr who became a saint along with best friend San Giovita.

Both belonged to wealthy pagan families, became knights and were converted during a battle in Roman times. They went into martyrdom together, placating the fierce animals meant to kill them, putting out the bonfire meant to burn them and weathering a storm at sea when sent to prison in Naples.

Co-patrons of the Northern Italian city of Brescia, they are credited, among other things, with liberating the city from Visconti troops through an apparition in 1438.

Today’s singles in Italy are fighting prejudice and issues like access to low-income housing, the right to adopt children and higher trash tax, according to the association. Over one-fifth, 23.3% of the Italian population, is made up of singles and single-parent families. During celebrations, the association will elect a “Single of the Year.”

Love better than dieting for weight loss, Italian experts say

by Nicole Martinelli
Falling in love is the quickest way to lose weight, according to Italian diet experts. Love as the (diet) drug works because it sets off a reaction that lessens appetite and increases feelings of satiety. The benefits of that many-splendored thing are especially helpful to dieters fighting the over-40 girth wars.

If what the experts (nutritionists, psychologists, food gurus) say is true it’s detrimental to their own livelihood: 80% of people shed pounds if they fall in love and are able to reach their target weight without struggling. The 74 diet professionals polled admitted that following your heart can be just as effective as following a healthy eating plan or exercising and was nearly as effective for men (45%) as for women (55%).

The downside to l’amore as a diet aid is the duration — the so-called ‘cupid effect’ tends to wear off after marriage or, in the most rosy scenario, lasts until the first child is born.

"With passion, a neurochemical wave is activated that is transformed into psycho-physical well-being, " said Alfonso Logoro, neurologist and psychiatrist. "Recent research would confirm that this joy in living lasts from 18 months to three years."

Experts confirm that the unloved are much more likely to take refuge in food (73%), gather dust in front of the TV (65%) or spend too much time gabbing on the phone (61%).

Diet specialists, surveyed in Italian monthly ‘Dimagrire’ (Lose Weight), also noted differences in the way Northern and Southern Italians react to love. Southerners tend to celebrate with food and suffer a slight weight gain when love strikes, while those up north and in central Italy tend to immediately start watching what they eat.

Related resources:
The Mediterranean Diet
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Italy by Numbers: Breaking the Jealousy Myth

87% Italians call jealousy egocentric or due to insecurity
74% say they’re ‘not at all’ jealous of partner
52% say it often ruins relationships

What, me jealous? Today’s Italians shatter the age-old stereotype of themselves as jealous lovers. According to a recent poll of over 1,000 Italians, the media is responsible for focusing on jealousy and its sometimes extreme consequences, such as extensive coverage of a television journalist killed by her jealous boyfriend in December 2002.
So much for the old Italian saying that ‘love and jealousy were born together’ — only 39% think that a certain amount of paranoia about infidelity ‘spices up’ a relationship. The green-eyed monster, though, is still present in relationships but Italians like to think partners are more jealous than they are — 74% said they are not at all jealous, but think that only 58% of their loved ones are without some lingering suspicion.

Related resources:
Listen to Carlotta sing the woes of jealosy — " ay yay yay yay," is part of the catchy refrain from current Italian pop hit “Gelosia”….

Finding your jealousy quotient:
Quiz designed by Italians (in English):

Quiz in Italian:

Italy by Numbers: Potency Kings

12% Italian men have erectile problems
35% English men have erectile problems
42% French men have erectile problems

Italians win the potency prize — suffering considerably less from erectile snafus than European counterparts. The data comes from the congress of the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research held in Montreal recently.
Skeptics assert that Italians may be less open about admitting such an intimate problem but Vincenzo Mirone, president of the Italian Andrology Society, disagrees: "They don’t suffer in silence like other nations: over half Italian men solve the problem by talking to their general practitioner, the rest seek out a specialist."
The news comes after recent dents to the myth of the Latin lover — in which studies carried out by condom company Durex showed that Italians had fewer and quicker sexual relations than Americans.

Italian House Husbands Association Born

Armed with dishrags and vacuum cleaners, some Italian men are hoping to dispel the myth of the lazy Latin male by forming a National House Husband’s Association.
An informal movement, started some 15 years ago, has already been busy giving intensive seminars on house keeping for Italian men.

"Our objective is to change this chauvinist mentality that considers men who help around the house as somehow less virile," said just-named President Fiorenzo Bresciani. "Even though in reality it is women who often judge a man who darns socks as less ‘macho’. We believe that a man at home can help make the most of women’s role in society."

The Association, which already counts 2,000 members has a hard road ahead, since a recent study placed Italian men as the least helpful around the house in Europe. First on the agenda for house husbands, who have working pasts as managers, construction workers, butchers and firemen, when they converge today on Pietrasanta (Lucca) will be a discussion about ecological tidying up.

Italy by numbers: Women’s Work?

91.5% Italian women do the laundry
72% women cook
68% women clean
89% women take out the trash

Keeping the home fires burning — and taking the trash out, doing the laundry etc.– is still largely women’s work in Italy. The survey of 700 women conducted by Whirlpool appliances showed that Italian men are like their European counterparts in only one activity — 63.8% do home maintenance work.

Otherwise Italian stallions were dismal in lending a helping hand at home — if 10% of men in the rest of Europe at least wash the dishes, only 5% in Italy do and if 30% of European men take out the trash only 11% of Italian men do. Some say the blame rests with women: "Delegating, women perhaps fear they will lose the amount of power that by tradition and culture belongs to them," says sociologist Franco Ferrarotti. "It takes time. In Italy especially because it’s a family-centric country but things are gradually changing."

Dante: the Ultimate Pickup Line

Italian men on the beach trying to pick up women are relying more on the heavyweights of literature than bodybuilding.
According to a magazine survey of over 1,000 Italian men, some 68% of those aged 18- 55 take a book to the beach in hopes of catching the eye of a bathing beauty.
Most have a very clear idea about what sort of literature seduces — eighty percent of these tome-carrying Romeos rely on the Divine Comedy and the Bible.

“If you’re trying to make conversation, there’s nothing like a good book,” Paolo Bordoni, a 24-year-old student from Genova, told zoomata. “Dante is an easy choice because you don’t have you actually read it — I had to learn whole passages in high school by heart anyway. You just have to look like you’re reading it.”
Other pickup favorites for Italians are Giacomo Leopardi’s poems and Alessandro Manzoni’s epic love story “The Betrothed.” Although some 27% admitted favoring books instead of the usual crossword puzzle or gossip magazine because it’s important to appear ‘cultured,’ around 20% said the books were also a source of inspiration — for pickup lines.

Related resources: An Italian Affair
An autobiographical tale of an American woman and — what else — a university professor…

Creating the Modern Chastity Belt

What started out as a joke turned into a profitable business for Italian sculptor Angelo Camerino who sells his virtuous creations in Italy and worldwide.Ten years ago the artist made a first pair of underpants in sheet metal, but the sideline didn’t really take off until American Lorena Bobbitt made headlines in 1993 for cutting off her husband’s penis. “A member of the US embassy here in Rome commissioned three chastity belts for friends in New York,” says Camerino, 70, though he wouldn’t reveal the employee’s name. “From there it really took off, I did a showing of eight and sold all of them.”
He isn’t the only one to capitalize on the Italian preoccupation with infidelity: psychologist, politician and self-proclaimed “Dr. seduction” Giuseppe Cirillo has invented an electronic chastity belt. The invention, currently in production according to Cirillo, notifies the worried partner just how long the beloved has taken off his or her underwear.
Camerino’s sheet metal belts made for either sex, lined in leather and satin, weigh about two pounds have a lock at navel level. Prices for the custom-made chastity chambers run between $1,000-1,600. The more expensive models, which decorative inlays, a heavier metal and no padding, were commissioned by the clients from Saudi Arabia.
He says he’s interested in the sculpture, not how his creations are used. “I suspect the padded and lined ones are used for erotic games — thought not too long ago, I got an order from a jealous husband in Calabria, so perhaps they are put to practical use.”
The elderly sculptor points out, however, that he would turn down commissions to make belts which hark back use as an instrument of torture — “if I thought it would do damage or otherwise harm I wouldn’t make it.”