Why are foreigners so in love with Italy? (2024)

Sunny days in Britain are a rare occurrence and growing up in London I became accustomed to always being prepared for cloudy weather and plenty of rain. The past few years has resulted in many of us spending much of our time stuck in doors and the absence of summer vacations has meant we have had to get creative about fulfilling our dreams of a sunny escape. Enter social media, a quick scroll through aesthetic Instagram pages and countless Pinterest boards and you will be transported to a dreamy Sicilian town. Now the world is opening up again, many tourists have flocked to Italy, lured by the perfectly curated ‘Mediterranean aesthetic’ we have been fed online, but where does this obsession with Italian aesthetics really come from?

Before the dawn of social media, aesthetic merchants gained inspiration from the big screen and there is a long list of box office hits and indie favourites that perfectly capture the stunning allure of the Italian lifestyle. Classic romance movie Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn instantly springs to mind as the epitome of the ideal holiday romance. An American newspaper reporter and a rebellious princess are whisked away by the charm and seduction of Rome, a story that sounds fit for a Disney remake with all of the rustic appeal of a Mediterranean escape. The Talented Mr. Ripley, a movie I have watched more times than I could count, centering around a social climber who works his way into the glamorous and opulent lifestyle of a wealthy circle. The ending may not be quite as desirable as The Roman Holiday, but the picturesque Amalfi Coast location certainly is. Think al fresco dining in the garden of a beautiful, white-washed villa or soaking up the rays on a picture-perfect shoreline.

For many of us, movies such as these are our first introduction to the Italian dream. Perhaps what lures us most is something bigger than the delicious food or beautiful scenery. What we are presented with is a lifestyle and a feeling that ensues. Audrey Hepburn riding through the streets of Rome on a Vespa is the embodiment of freedom, something that us city dwellers experience very little of. Her ability to abandon the constraints of her royal lifestyle, mirrors our annual desire to escape the real world on a summer vacation. Similarly, the character of Tom Ripley travels to Italy in search of a new life and manages to become a stylish and sophisticated version of who he once was. The Italian aesthetic is far more than just moodboard-worthy images, it is an emotion that we are hungry to consume.

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Italian fashion brands have picked up on this increasing obsession with the country’s aesthetic and have drawn on cultural traditions and style staples to deliver to the masses. Dolce and Gabbana have dominated the Italian fashion scene and created a Mediterranean mystique for the world to buy into. Sicilian native, Domenico Dolce imbues his love and appreciation of his hometown into the brand's DNA. Capturing the nostalgia, romance and sophistication of the Italian lifestyle, the brand has become synonymous with luxurious glamour, seductive silhouettes and opulent detailing. As the poster child for the Mediterranean fairytale, the brand won the hearts of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker who earlier this year said “I do” in Portofino where the Kardashian clan were appropriately dressed in vintage Dolce and Gabbana pieces. Brands from Italy and beyond are incorporating the much sought after Mediterranean aesthetic into their approach prompting an onslaught of trending hashtags including #Italiancore and #Mediterraneangirlsummer. Our desire to embody the laid back energy and effortless glamour of the Italian lifestyle feels somewhat attainable through the media that we consume and the products that we buy.

Our obsession with Italian culture could be the product of a number of factors but it seems clear that it is somewhat of an escape. Its depiction of freedom, traditional rustic charm and sexy sophistication is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and our desire to become the character that is all of these things even just for a while, has made the Italian lifestyle a cultural phenomenon for past and future generations. After all, who doesn't dream of being whisked off to a dreamy seaside town to eat spaghetti alle vongole dressed as Monica Belucci?

Why are foreigners so in love with Italy? (2024)

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