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How these star-crossed lovers met their Italian Romeos

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Holly and Gianluca on their wedding day in Capri.
15:21 CET+01:00
So it's almost Valentine's Day, a day which actually has its roots in the Roman Empire. What better way to celebrate than with some heartwarming stories about Italian love.

"And that is ... how they are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other's face."

This is what British author D.H Lawrence once wrote about Italy. We know the country has its problems, but you can't escape the romance, whether that be in Romeo and Juliet's Verona, on a street sign, like the one in Cinque Terre below, or the open displays of affection - and not just between couples.

Photo: bigskyred

Sure, we know not everything is a bed of roses when it comes to matters of the heart, but let's forget about that for a few minutes as we read about how the lives of four expats were changed when they met their Italian love.

Holly and Gianluca, who run a restaurant together in Capri

In 2013, I was travelling around Italy for five weeks holiday. It was my first visit to Capri and on my second night, I found myself dining at Ristorante Michel’angelo. From the moment I walked in to Michel’angelo, I immediately felt comfortable, which as a solo Australian traveller I really appreciated.

Little did I know this meal would change my life forever.

The waiter, Gianluca (who I later learnt was the owner) had such a warm manner but could only speak a little English and I could only speak a little Italian. At the end of my meal, in my best Italian I asked for the bill several times and instead received dessert and limoncello. I thought to myself that he mustn't have understood me. All the other tables were paying their bills and leaving until I was the only person left in the restaurant.

Gianluca then placed his order pad on the table, explained that he had not yet eaten and cheekily asked me for a table for one. Finding it pretty amusing (and with a little limoncello courage), I got up and showed him to a table, lit the candle and took his order. After I placed the order with the chef, I joined his table and with the help of Google translate we laughed until the early hours of the morning.

Two weddings later (one in Capri and one in Sydney) and a beautiful bambino, Valentino, and another on the way, we now run Michel’angelo together and share an appreciation for fantastic food, wine, family and a good laugh!

Laura Thayer, an American writer and art historian who lives with her husband, Lello, on the Amalfi coast

The way I met my husband is right out of a romance movie.

My mother had planned a holiday here in 2007 while I was at graduate school in the US, and I just knew I had to go along! I was studying art history at the time, so it made sense to come to Italy.

We came to the Amalfi coast on a week-long tour, which is when I fell in love with the architecture of the area … and our tour guide!

We did the long distance thing for quite a while, with a lot of back and forth, until we finally married in 2012. 

Besides the stereotypical meeting, we're a pretty atypical couple with our cultural and age differences. I didn't even know a word of Italian when we met. But fortunately since he is a tour guide the language barrier wasn't an issue at least. It has been quite an unexpected adventure, but one I wouldn't change for anything. It's true ... you never really know how a vacation might change your life! 

Alice Kiandra Adam, an Australian cook and food stylist, who lives with her husband, Leonardo and two children in Rome

I was a caterer and food stylist in Melbourne when I left in May 2005 for a year-long trip to Italy.

I had studied Italian at primary school, and again as an adult, and was enamoured with the Italian gastronomic landscape. I had sold the catering business I had with a friend, and with enough money in my back pocket I thought I'd go to Rome to really learn the language.

My first job was as a waitress in a restaurant in the Trastevere district. It was a totally memorable experience. At the pub next door, where we would go for a drink after our shift, I met Leonardo.

It feels like a cliché writing this, but when we met I was swept off my feet on the back of a white Vespa. So when I got to the end of my 12 months of course I wanted to stay.

Almost 11 years later and we have two children, Alberto, 7, and Emma, 6. It was after they were born that I decided to go back to working in the food sector. I missed the creativity, the markets and produce and just being in the kitchen. It has been a really slow road building up a business in Rome, but I now work with some great Italian and international photographers, teach and lead tours with Casa Mia, and have a lot of really great projects happening at Latteria Studio, which I share in Trastevere.

Story continues below…

I love Australia, and wish it was (quite) a bit closer, but there is so much about Italy, and Europe, that stimulates, challeges and inspires me.

Here's a a story about a 22-year-old English student and her Italian boyfriend, whose romance prospered over their shared love of language and art. But they wished to remain anonymous...

In September 2013 I moved to Bologna for the year as part of the Erasmus programme; I studied German and Italian for my undergraduate course so was attracted to the ancient university city.

Even before packing all of my belongings into a Ryanair-approved suitcase, I found a tandem language exchange group online and immediately started talking to Italians who wanted to meet up to improve their English (or those who simply pretended to care about learning a new language and wanted a date).

Luckily I came across a Italian girl, Francesca, who was a little older than me but was keen to improve her English and help me with my Italian.

We started hanging out, she took me to new bars and festivals happening around Bologna, so I wasn’t going to the typical Erasmus hangouts but felt like I was getting to know the ‘real’ city. She introduced me to her friends, including one tall boy with dark hair, Enrico. The ‘tall’ part was important – I am very tall and tall Italian men are very rare! Enrico and I started talking more and more, and even started hanging out, with other friends as well. Straight away I fancied him, but there was a downside: he had a girlfriend, who was lovely and was nice to me.

We remained friends but kept talking more, and eventually one evening I told him how I felt - and he said nothing. After a few minutes, he explained that he had broken up with his girlfriend that morning. We kissed, and soon began dating. After the few more months which were left of my Erasmus year, I had to fly back to reality in the UK to finish my degree and graduate. We stayed together long-distance, which was difficult but we are very thankful to Ryanair! We aimed to see each other at least once a month and it was successful – he came to stay with my family over Christmas and I was able to go back to Bologna quite often. 

I then applied to do my masters degree in history of art back in Bologna, where they accepted me and I moved back in Sept 2015 (two years later). It’s great to be living in the same country again and my Italian has never been better!

 

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