Italy seems to offer a whole section of tourist stuff geared towards the tourist with a unique sense of memorabilia. Maybe it’s because there are cities where the whole tourist economy is based on marble models of naked men, like Florence.  Maybe it’s because of the tourist. Or maybe it’s just part of the culture.

On the surface, this openness would seem in direct conflict with the fact that Italy has a very traditional culture, where 80% of the country is Christian, and among those, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic (small smattering of Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons compliment this) with the remaining 20 percent comprised of Atheists, Agnostics, and Muslims.

Reflecting the cultural mores of Christianity, the dominant religion, and the polytheistic religions which preceded it, Italian society is highly engendered and patriarchal.

“Traditional religious values and religious laws in Italy have played an important role in reinforcing social norms of a separate and subordinate role for women as homemakers and mothers, and a role for men as patriarchs with the family and primary breadwinners in the paid workforce (Inglehart & Norris, 2003). Not only do women in many societies hold different jobs than men do, and with lower status and rewards, but they are also expected to manage family responsibilities (Inglehart & Norris, 2003). Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Italy, where the Catholic Church has long exerted its influence on Italian families by promoting a specific set of values. Women were assigned the position of the “soul” of the family, while men were the “head”. Men were there to defend the family, while women nurtured the children.”[1]

Given this, it maybe makes that  a society with roots in the very licentious Greco/Roman traditions overlaid by Christianity would have a fascination with cheeky tchotchkes.

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