Italians live with this very strong belief that the amount of hatred you feel towards your partner in a romantic relationship is equitable to the amount of love you have for them. This love/hate courtship shows itself as a couple fights in the town piazza, two actors performing for the crowd. There is no shame in public. She smacks him across the face for whatever wrong he did, or he’s screaming at her, an inch from her nose, vile insults are sprayed at each other, he grabs her arm a little too hard when she walks away, it’s all very beautiful to them. This same scene placed in an American coffee shop or mall would be a hideous sight for us. We keep these spectacles for our private homes and whisper the results to our best friend’s weeks later. But here in Italy, I imagine the onlookers thinking, “Che forte amore.” What strong love. “Ti amo o ti ammazzo”: it was a hit pop song on the top 40 countdown last summer in Florence, but it represents this concept that the Italians have been living with forever, probably. “I love you or I kill you”.

Erica Jacquemin

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