Mama’s Boy



pasta charming handsome
latest bachelor well-equipped
sleek essence commercial (2)
chic cool (2) take care of
career head (2) disposable income
maid dispose all over (2)
irony observe point of view
pivot essential institution (2)
fresh squeeze come over
tidy iron (2) on her (his) way
tired fabulous by the time
discuss consider stay out late
exist agrarian overnight (2)
values household in other words
oblige relatively underwear
expect creep (2) creep up (2)
States state (3) compliment
rent don’t care responsibility
candle birth-rate as you please
tease enormous marvelous
run (2) disappear electrified (2)
income alarm (2) at the end of the day
face (2) go away dating scene
afford personal good-looking
own laundry embarrassed
still (2) concept stand on your own two feet
hip revolver on your own
nest etcetera individualistic
shame barbaric mark of shame
alone frontier manage (2)
wonder shortage generation
crisis decrease pretty much
trend desperate on my own
risk suppose silver lining
terrace opinion bright idea (2)






Where else can you find the pasta, the vino, the mammoni that you find in Italy?


If you don’t know what mammoni are, they are not a what, they are a who: Romeos, Casanovas, Latin lovers, who are in reality, mama’s boys who live at home.

And more than half the young men in Italy, do.

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You can find them everywhere: handsome, well-dressed, charming bachelors, equipped with the latest cell-phones, and the sleekest motorbikes.

The height of chic, the essences of cool. Men like Davide Luccini, thirty-one (31), commercial director of a motorcycle alarm company outside Milan.

His friend, Massimo Laberba, aged forty-five (45) is head of marketing for his family’s clothing business.

Giorgio Balermo, thirty-nine (39) year old cameraman in Grotto, north of Venice.

These men have jobs. They have girlfriends. They have disposable income.

But take look at where they live: here. Here. Here. And here.

No, those women aren’t their maids; these men live in their childhood bedrooms, at home — with mama.

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Sociologist Franco Feretti has been observing and writing about Italian society for the last half-century.

Journalist: “All over Italy, we have met men in their twenties, thirties, forties still living at home with their mothers — and they tell us this is normal.

Is this normal?

Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “It is normal from an Italian point of view. But why? Because the family in this country is still a powerful and essential institution.

The family is there to stay — forever.

And the mother is the center, the pivot, of the family.”

The pivot — and the workhorse.

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Take the Bolermo household. Every morning, Senora Bolermo, aged seventy-seven (77), wakes up at five to squeeze fresh orange juice for Giorgio.

At seven, she’s on her way to the local fifteenth century church to light candles and tidy up a bit.

By the time Giorgio gets home for lunch, his mother has washed his clothes, ironed his clothes, cleaned his room, and of course, cooked him a fabulous meal.

Remember, Giorgio is thirty-nine (39).

Journalist: “How would you describe living here?”
Giorgio Balermo: “Paradiso!”
Journalist: “Paradiso: living with mama.

Have you ever discussed whether it’s time for Giorgio to move into his own apartment? Do you ever think, ‘Okay. Okay’.”
Senora Balermo: “NOOOOO.”
Journalist: “When he stays out late, do you still worry about him?”
Senora Balermo: “I don’t sleep until he comes home. I don’t sleep until he comes home.”

Things work pretty much the same at David Luccini’s house.

Journalist: “Mama cooks for you, makes what you like?”
Davide Luccini: “Yeah: she asks what I want, what I would like, what you prefer.
Senora Luccini: “Yes. Today, I prepare pasta. Today I prepare an omelet, and I prepare it.”
Journalist: “Would we ever find a mother in Italy who has said to her son, ‘Okay, it’s time for you to move out’.”

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Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “Yeah, she must come from America.”
Journalist: “Not in Italy?”
Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “Not in Italy.”
Journalist: “It doesn’t happen?”
Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “No, it simply does not exist. It’s what we consider, ‘unnatural’. It would be considered highly unnatural.”

Journalist: “But that was the way in agrarian societies; but this is an industrialized country. All the other industrialized countries have a system where the kids move out of the house.

Why not here?”

Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “We have become industrialized overnight. We still don’t believe it, you know. At night, we say, ‘Are we industrialized? Maybe so.

No. In other words, we have our feet in an industrial society, but our heads, our values are still back in the past, a marvelous past, with a nice, obliging mother, never tired, washing and ironing your underwear. You know, everything.

It was marvelous.

How can you beat that?”

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Italian children were always expected to stay home with their families until marriage.

But as the age of marriage has crept up into their thirties and forties, the just keep staying and staying. There are so many of them now, there’s even an Italian word for them: mammoni.

Journalist: “Mammoni. It means “Mamas’ boys.”
Davide Luccini: “Yeah.”
Journalist: “In the States if someone says ‘You’re a mama’s boy,’ it’s not a compliment.”
Davide Luccini: “In Italy, if you say to someone mammoni, you know, it’s not a compliment too.”
Journalist: “But you don’t care?”
Davide Luccini: “We don’t care, because we like (it). We like living the way we are.”
Journalist: “So someone says to you mammoni, you say ‘yeah’.”
Davide Luccini: “Yeah.”

And why not?

These guys have it good: they pay no rent . . . have few responsibilities . . . come and go pretty much as they please . . .

At thirty-one (31), Davide is still relatively young.

His friend Masimo at forty-five (45) is what may be called a “career mammoni”. His family, particularly younger brother Fabrizio, who often comes over for dinner with his wife and baby, teases Masimo and his mother all the time.

Fabrizio Laberba, Younger Brother: “He’s the king of the house. In the morning, he wakes up at seven, speaks with mommy, ‘I want to eat strawberries.’ So immediately, my mother buys strawberries for Massimo because he’s the king.”

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Jude Barrent, a thirty-one (31) year old British journalist, had never heard of the term mammoni when she moved to Rome last year and started dating one, thirty-three (33) year old Andrea Leafredi.

Jude Barrent, British Journalist: “For example there’s a magazine he gets every month, and he’ll say to his mother on the way out the door, ‘Buy my magazine for me.’ And it’s like being electrified. I turn around and say, ‘Buy it yourself.’ Your mother has a house to run; you do it.”

Andrea Leafredi, Italian Boyfriend: “I buy my magazine on my own. So I ask my mother to do something for me.”

Jude Barrent, British Journalist: “So at the end of the day, you have a thirty-five (35) year old who doesn’t know how to live. And that’s enormously worrying, if you happen to be the girlfriend of one of these mammonis.

I just think, ‘What am I going to end up with?’ somebody who can’t take care of himself? And nobody wants that.”

Andrea Leafredi, Italian Boyfriend: “The problem is with an English girlfriend, not an Italian girlfriend.”

Journalist: “An Italian girlfriend would never say that.”

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And speaking of girlfriends, we had a couple of questions for Davide and Massimo about the mammoni dating scene.

Journalist: “Now, both of you — I’m a little embarrassed telling you — both of you are really good-looking guys.

Davide: “Thank you.”
Massimo: “We know, we know, we know!”

Journalist: “What about girlfriends? I don’t want to get too personal, but, what do you do? You know, you’re living at home?”

Massimo: “Sometimes my parents go away for the weekend. And sometimes they go to bed earlier, nine-o’clock pm.”

And just in case you’re thinking that these guys are living at home because they can’t afford a place of their own, think again . . .

Massimo: “I have another house that I can go to.”
Journalist: “You have another house?”
Massimo: “Yeah, two-hundred meters from here.”
Journalist: “But you don’t live there?”
Massimo: “No.”
Journalist: “You have another house?”
Davide: “Yes. Not so close as Massimo’s: it’s two-and-a-half kilometers away.”
Massimo: “Oh, that’s very far.”
Davide: “Yes, it’s very far.”
Massimo: “That’s a problem; you need an airplane.”

This is Massimo’s house — he’s owned it for twelve years.

This is Davide’s — pretty nice.

Giorgio’s apartment is even better: he has three terraces facing the ocean, a state of the art kitchen, and stereo speakers in every room.

And still, he lives at home with his mother.

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Journalist: “What about the concept of independence? In the United States, mothers and fathers believe that they should get their child standing on their own two feet.”

Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “You know we have the Catholic Church, the Mediterranean culture.

You have the frontier: the great American experience has been the frontier. And people in the frontier have to have their revolver ready at their hip. And they have to go on their own on horseback, etcetera.

It’s an individualistic society.

This is NOT an individualistic society.

In Italy, our way of moving children out of the nest at eighteen (18) is seen as close to barbaric.

Here it can be a mark of shame if an unmarried son moved out.”

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Senora Luccini, Italian Mother: “Yes, it’s wrong for them to live on their own. It’s not nice.”
Senor Luccini, Italian Father: “In the evening, when a person is all alone, what does he do? What does he think?

He sits down alone in front of the television, and then he doesn’t have anyone to talk to about what he saw on television.”

Journalist: “You know, you’ve made it sound so great. I want to move in.”
Senora Luccini: “Come. Come. Come!”

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There’s an irony: the fact that Italians are so close, the children never want to leave, means those grown up children aren’t out starting families of their own.

Journalist: “One of the problems in your country is that people aren’t getting married.”
Davide Luccini: “In my opinion, mainly because of changes in women. Because in the past, the mother was the mother, stayed at home, and washed, cooked, cleaned, be quiet.”

A lot has changed in Italy in just one generation. Today’s young women work — they’re simply not interested in ironing and making beds.

Little wonder then that Italy has a baby shortage. Yes: Catholic Italy now has one of the lowest birth-rates in the entire world.

At the current rate, the Italian population could decrease by half every forty (40) years. The crisis has already hit in the thousand-year-old town Vesto Gerardi, where only three babies were born last year; two the year before.

Mayor Venchenzo Vididi says that if the trend continues, he’ll have to close the schools. He’s so desperate, he’s even threatened to put a tax on bachelors to try and force them to finally leave home.

Bachelors like these three.

Journalist: “The mayor says he might tax the bachelors. What do you think of that?
Bachelor One: “I’ll never pay a tax.”

Journalist: “So we laugh about mammoni and we joke. But this is not funny in this town.

Venchenzo Vididi, Mayor Vesto Geraldi: “The problem is very serious because this town, Vesto Geraldi, risks disappearing, closing down.”

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There is a silver lining: if and when an Italian man does get married, he rarely moves to another town.

Journalist: “Even when these mammoni do get married, they do get a house within one kilometer of their mothers.”
Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “Oh no, no, no. One kilometer is too far. No, it has to be actually on the same floor, if possible, or maybe a floor above or a floor below. Not farther than that.”
Journalist: “Even when they get married?”
Franco Ferretti, Sociologist: “Yes. Especially when they get married. Suppose you get married. A middle-class family. You have children.

Who is going to take care of these children?

The grandmother is coming over. It’s all over again with the grandchildren.”

Journalist: “So when you move into your house, do you think you’ll bring your laundry home?”
Davide Luccini: “No.”
Massimo: “If it’s possible, yes.”

We managed to find one guy in Italy who actually got married and moved away . . . but that doesn’t mean his mother doesn’t do his laundry: Federico sends it home by bus.

When she sends it back, it’s a six hour ride. It arrives washed, ironed and perfect.

American men, don’t get any bright ideas.

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Baby, Infant. In Italy, only unemployed or poor men live at home with their parents. True or false?

Daughter, Sister. Do the mammonis hire domestic helpers to clean their homes and cook for them?

Son, Brother. Italians have close family ties. Is this right or wrong? Are the Italians traditional, modern, both, in-the-middle?

Wife, Mother. Do parents pressure their sons to move out of their homes and live on their own?

Husband, Father. Is there a stigma or shame attached to being a “mama’s boy”? Are the mammoni offended or embarrassed about their status or situation?

First Cousin, Second Cousin. Are Americans and Britons shocked by the mammoni culture in Italy? What accounts for the cultural and sociological differences?

Aunt and Uncle. The younger generation of Italians are exactly the same as their parents and grandparents. Is this right or wrong?

Niece, Nephew. Married sons prefer to move and live in other parts of Italy and Europe. Yes or no?
Sister-in-Law, Brother-in-Law. Is your nation and culture more similar to Italians, Anglo-Saxons or somewhere in between?

Mother-in-Law, Father-in-Law. Has your culture changed over the years?

Step-Mother, Step-Father, Step-Sister, Step-Brother. What are the benefits (pros, advantages) of close family relations? What are the drawbacks (cons, disadvantages) of being independent, individualistic or having weak family ties?

Grandparents, Grandmother, Grandfather. What are the disadvantages (cons, drawbacks) of close family ties? What are the advantages (pros, benefits) of being independent, individualistic or loose family ties?

Grandchildren, Granddaughter, Grandson. What could or should Americans and Italians and others do?

Great-Grandparents, Great-Grandmother, Great-Grandfather. What might happen in the future?

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