Summer used to be the season of infidelity in Italy. While their families were off on vacation, many men would stay in the city and enjoy their mistresses guilt free. Now, with the European Union enforcing strict measures as a result of the economic crisis, affairs are no longer so simple to maintain. Justifying funds spent on mysterious gifts and business trips has become tricky now that more women work, stay in the city and manage their household budgets than did so before. To add insult to injury, Italians now have to pay property taxes on a second home, making it difficult to keep a bachelor pad on the side. One man told a reporter that the new tax burden “really messed up my romantic life.” The Daily Beast offers a few statistics on the topic:
According to the World Atlas of Sex, a survey published last month in France (inevitably), Italians are the most unfaithful people in the world, followed (closely) by the French and the Spanish—the U.S. ranks 17th—though the survey, which is based on admissions of adultery, may be skewed by Southern European bluster.
Reliable statistics based on self-reporting are, of course, hard to come by, given the inherent secrecy and deceitfulness of the deed. (Who is really honest about their dishonesty?) A more accurate estimation of the prevalence of cheating, perhaps, can be found in divorce court, and last year, the Italian association of divorce lawyers published a study of infidelity based on a review of divorce cases over the last five years. According to the study, 55 percent of Italian men and 42 percent of Italian women have cheated, or are currently cheating, on their spouses. The study also found that the most adulterous age is between 40 and 50, and that more than 60 percent of all affairs take place between colleagues. And according to the study, 7 percent of married men cheated with other men in homosexual relationships, compared with 5 percent of women who sought out lesbian encounters.
In terms of the geography of extramarital relations, the lawyers found Milan to be the two-timing capital of Italy followed by Rome, Bologna, and Turin. The survey also suggested that cheaters were most commonly exposed by the discovery of illicit cellphone text messages. (A. Weiner, take note.)
But getting caught doesn’t necessarily cause a breakup. “In our country, infidelity is no longer seen in a tragic way,” says Gian Ettore Gassani, a divorce lawyer and one of the authors of the study. “Only 40 percent of divorcing couples split because of infidelity.” Let’s face it: these days, who can afford to be single?
So not only are Italians unable to spare the expense of love affairs, but they’re also staying married for financial reasons. Who knew austerity, apart from destroying the economies of several countries, would also foster fidelity?