In a country famed for passionate lovers, has myth been confused with reality?
As a blonde 20-something British woman studying in Rome, I have had the - somewhat dubious - pleasure of first-hand experience.
He stormed out and later sent a text message: "Compliments on the speed with which you move from one man to the next." This from an otherwise rational 35-year-old.
If I thought this was melodramatic, the best was still to come.
I should have read the signs: the men hanging around, idly lifting weights while modelling skin-tight shorts, the women tripping by in tiny skirts and heels, admiring hair in mirrors and swapping phone numbers." A few days later, however, the "rivals" were on the best of terms again.In true Italian style, brotherly love had turned to loathing and back again before the week was up.But all hell let loose when it emerged that we had made plans without our mutual friend.My casual suggestion of lunch was, in fact, a highly forward move: a signal that it was not just lunch I was interested in.It was also a snub to the friend who had introduced us.I was castigated for the misunderstanding and the unfortunate colleague was accused of backstabbing in a text message that finished: "If you ever go out with her again, I will cut your throat." The accused was equally insulted and texted back: "I'd cheat on my girlfriend, but I'd never betray my friends!If anyone can come up with 10 graceful ways to handle hot-blooded Italians, I'd be happy to hear them.You'll know how to find me: just follow the trail of broken hearts through the streets of Rome.This, I discovered later, is known affectionately as "the sofa rule", and has more to do with saving face than romance.His sulking turned into a tantrum over supper, when I was rash enough to chat to other male guests.