We look to the Italians as gurus of romance, Latin lovers who conquer with a smouldering glance and whisk women away on their scooters to woo them in some secluded olive grove.
But is the Italian way of flirting really that straightforward?
It wasn't long before I received replies from Italian "directors" interested in letting their spare rooms and offering insights into Italian cinema in exchange for English-language lessons.
He proved to be a funny and honourable guide, offering invaluable advice when he heard about my catalogue of disastrous encounters with Italian flirts.
His favourite episode was the one where the naive English girl is pursued in the gym, a place otherwise known as Italian flirt-heaven.
The height of Italian jealousy was revealed in all its glory when a friend introduced me to one of his colleagues.
We had much in common and arranged to meet for lunch.
This, I discovered later, is known affectionately as "the sofa rule", and has more to do with saving face than romance.
His sulking turned into a tantrum over supper, when I was rash enough to chat to other male guests.So the hapless Englishwoman finds herself the unwilling star of a bizarre soap-opera, part The Bold and the Beautiful, part East Enders.The British are often accused of being unconfident in love, but in Italy it's more a case of cultural misunderstanding.It was also a snub to the friend who had introduced us.I was castigated for the misunderstanding and the unfortunate colleague was accused of backstabbing in a text message that finished: "If you ever go out with her again, I will cut your throat." The accused was equally insulted and texted back: "I'd cheat on my girlfriend, but I'd never betray my friends!When I lost patience, he looked wounded, insisting that it had been a perfectly normal move.