Walking to and from the passeggiata, in and out of the tiny alleyways between the main road and the sea, I encountered these interesting examples of graffiti. The first one, dated and signed with a heart, says:
“Believe in my love. I love you truly, I swear.”
The second one is brief and to the point in dark black letters says, depending on context:
“You please me,” literal translation. “I like you,” “I find you attractive,” not to mention, “you turn me on.”
There are no marks of gender in the pronouns, nothing to reveal the sex of the writer. I first assumed that the long message was written by a woman and the short one by a man. But then I thought that since Italian men pride themselves on being romantic, it was not impossible that the more flowery one had been written by a man, and the short expression of desire by a woman.
With those assumptions in mind, I asked the question at a group lunch with several Italian speakers. I was surprised to learn that “mi piaci tu” might have come from song lyrics or publicity for some product, and was used on Facebook to mean: “I like,” as in thumbs up. In other words, “mi piaci tu” seems to have less of an immediate sexual overtone than the French, “tu me plais.” Another of the Italians commented that nowadays the difference in behavior between boys and girls was not as rigid as it used to be―girls acted in ways considered taboo in the past. And therefore that either a girl or a boy might have written “mi piaci tu.” It wasn’t gender specific.
But most seemed to think that the flowery declaration of eternal love was written by a man for a woman and that it could have been used with the hope of seducing her. Ensued a long conversation about graffiti, especially love graffiti―in Italy, Spain, and the United States.
The third instance of graffiti is less lofty. It’s about dog poop, of which there is a goodly amount in town. Well, it’s not strictly speaking graffiti since it’s a message typed on a piece of paper, but still.
“Look carefully. This piece of shit is identical to the shit who brought his dog to poop here.”
A lot less romantic, but no less Italian.
I’m not sure when I can use any of this information, but at least I’m learning things.