Italian Stereotype


/pa ree oh lee na/

A stereotypical female who lives in Parioli  (a district in Rome, Italy)

“When we moved from Israel to Rome, I was at the terrible age of 14, and one of the most important aims I was anxious to reach was to be accepted by the rich and popular Italian girls that surrounded me in the American International School of Rome. Being a “fashionista”, I immediately noticed that there is an enormous difference between their style and my style, a totally different “dress code” as well as “makeup code”, if you will. At this time (and also a couple of years later), every one of them used to put on a pair of Levi’s baggy jeans, tops from two specific shops found in their district, all with the same cleavage, and finally a very specific sort of Nike sport shoes. During winter wool scarves were added, tied in a very unique way, and unique short black coats. There were some other specific items of course, and makeup-wise they, at the early age of 14, were already putting on heavy makeup. So I tried my best, and I obviously had to put big efforts, as I came from a completely different fashion mentality.  Yet, to no avail… something didn’t look right, it just didn’t fit on me. And then I knew what I should do. I asked a male-friend Luca, an Italian very fashion-minded boy of my age, that I knew well, where could I get this kind of clothes. That was when I first heard the “Pariolina” word, as he told me that to be a “pariolina” I should go to this and this shop, and only there can I purchase the exact items. And so I did, and so I spent a lot of money at these expensive stores, and achieved the best results. The big prize came very soon, when Vittoria, the most popular of the Italian girls in my class, told me that I looked like a real “Pariolina”. I was accepted, and trust me, it was hard!  The Italian society is way far from “open” to foreigners, though some perceive it as a welcoming image. By that time I already knew that Parioli is probably the most prestigious neighborhood in Rome, and being called by this name meant to be dressed in the “right” way. And so I left my Israeli look behind and became a true “Priolina”, and as I’m very interested in fashion, I even became a sort of fashion advisor on where to get what.

I loved the “Pariolina” style when I lived in Rome, because I enjoy living the life of the locals, and because it helped me become accepted by the Italian girls of my international class, which was an exceptional thing. And I loved my changed look and my “grown up” makeup. Later, when I was a bit older, my view changed and I tried to dress more unique and be guided by my own tastes.

Today, as a 20 year girl, almost American and living in a town like Hanover, and after visiting Rome a few times, I look at this period with a smile, as one of the lovely-funny things of my years as a teenager “.

I love this stereotype that my sister here describes because although I was younger I still vaguely remember it, but unlike then, I now understand what it was all about. When living in Rome, and looking back now, I notice a trend that different age groups in my International School show. When young, the Italian population worked towards being Americanized in order to fit in, yet as they reach high school, they learn to embrace their Italian heritage more and that is when stereotypes like the “pariolina” begin showing.

Looking at it now and having since then visited Rome many times, the “Pariolina” stereotype seems to me as carrying ambivalent values; the positive social unity of the Roman girls, their very original “posh style”, as well as the less desired lack of uniqueness, and in the case of the “Pariolina”, also the social rank issue that still quite openly exists in Rome.

After looking into the term “Pariolina” I stumbled upon an actual dictionary definition of the word;

According to the De Mauro online dictionary: Parioloina is a noun that has several uses.

“1. A native or inhabitant of Parioli

  1. (Informal) A person with a bourgeois standard of living and right-of-centre politics
  2. (Locally, slang) A bourgeois fashioned youngster of Rome.
  3. (Spregiative, in the past) A bourgeois and snobby behaviour.”

I also found the use of the word Pariolina Italian literature, in his book “Improvvisa la Vita” Ottieri wrote:

“piedi una parte del viale Mohammed Ve si fermò a osservare una bella pariolina che passava sul marciapiede sotto gli alberi di aranci e mandarini”

Which in translation to English is:

“on foot through a part of the tree-lined avenue Mohammed Ve stopped to watch a beautiful pariolina who passed on the pavement under the orange and Mandarin trees”

It’s really quite interesting to learn something I found so casual and perhaps even meaningless to outsiders can actually be documented by a dictionary and literature.

Annotation: Ottieri, Ottiero. Improvvisa La Vita. Milano: Bompiani, 1987. Print. (

De Mauro. “Pariolino.” Web. 23 Apr. 2011. <>.