The image of Italian men as muscled, smooth-talking Lotharios who prey on female tourists has been shattered.
According to a new report, the average Italian man suffers from deep insecurity and is too shy to chat anyone up. 'This summer on the beach, he will sit alone, protected by sun-cream and sunglasses, isolated from the rest of the world by his mobile phone and his palmtop or his MP3,' says Raffaele Morelli, whose magazine Riza Psicosomatica carried out the survey. 'Instead of being confident, the modern Italian man will be in a fever of embarrassment and insecurity.'
The golden era of the Italian beach Lothario was in the Sixties and Seventies when no women could go any distance without being propositioned or having her bottom pinched. But beaches now, according to the report, are places where people try to make themselves as invisible as possible.
The survey of Italian men aged 26 to 60 reveals that only one in three feels comfortable about their body in a swimming suit. They are concerned that they are too fat or too thin, or do not have a dark enough tan.
Some 62 per cent of the men surveyed said they felt too shy to chat up an attractive girl and 52 per cent said they worried about being given the brush-off. One in three of the men surveyed said they go to the beach only to sunbathe, and are happy hiding behind the pages of a book, listening to music or lying under a sun umbrella.