"If you are female, you will grow accustomed to persistent and often irritating advances made by Italian men. CAUTION: These advances may be eloquently and romantically expressed, but they are rarely sincere -- flirting with foreign girls is something of a national sport in Italy."
And let me tell you, that is accurate (although some "advances" are less eloquent and romantic than others). I'm by no means a dime piece but walking down the street in Italy is what I imagine being a goddess is like, if you like being slurped at by lumpy and weirdly foreign-looking guys. After the first few weeks of constantly being called "bella" (or mela, if you're me), the novelty wears off and you get kind of annoyed at being elevator-eyed from sunrise to well past sunset. Luckily I've developed a few strategies to ward off the unwanted attention (note: these methods can also be applied to creepy Mexican men if you happen to be a biddie in Harrisonburg, Virginia).
I'm always a fan of preventative measures -- stopping a problem before it starts certainly saves energy. This is why I've started dressing like a lesbian in Italy. If I look like I like girls, maybe it'll make me less of a target than the next American girl on the sidewalk. Unfortunately my Birkenstocks and [insert name of overtly stereotypical lesbian clothing here] don't always do the trick, and the inappropriate sexual comments are never far behind. At first I tried the ignorance-is-bliss strategy and walked everywhere listening to my iPod...maybe if I don't hear anything old men won't stare at my butt. But recently I realized what goes around comes around, and if these men are going to be aggressive then I will too. No, the Jenna Marbles face doesn't cut it here, but burping at them does. Other options include responding in a manly voice, wearing a gorilla mask, or mace. Whatever you do, it's important to be forward and disgusting if you ever want to send the right message.