Almost 90 percent of the young Italian men live at home, and many stays home even after marriage. They are the so-called ‘mammoni’, Italian mama’s boys, but living under the same roof as one’s mother isn’t the dream for everyone. 

Tuscany: There’s a big foosball table in Simone Pacini’s living room. In his kitchen, he has his home office. But most importantly, his mother isn’t around to tell him how to do things, so he does what he pleases. And he enjoys it greatly. 

“I really like my family, but I don’t want to be around them all day every day,” Simone Pacini says. 

He lives in the small village Quarrata in the Tuscan hills in a house with open wooden shutters, red tile and a beautiful view over rows of olive trees and the valley. From the outside, it looks like every other home in the village but unlike most others, he lives alone. 

In Italy, 88.3 percent of the young men aged 16 to 29 lives at home, which is the third highest number in the EU. Even though Simone Pacini aged 39, doesn’t fall in that category, he is still an exception because many of the young men still stays home until they get married. 

“It’s not everyone, but I would say, it’s more than half of the men,” Simone Pacini says. 

There are several reasons for why that many young men live at home. According to a journal article published by Oxford University Press in 2006, one of the important factors are that cohabitation is a normal good for Italian parents: They simply want their children to stay at home. 

Pushy parents 

If Simone Pacini’s mother was the one to decide, they would see each other much more than they do today. In year 2000 Simone Pacini for the first-time left home for longer than a week to study English abroad. He loved living by himself, but his mother didn’t feel the same joy of him being far from home. When he later endured in an Erasmus programme in Spain, she couldn’t even sleep at the beginning. 

“My parents would let me travel, but my mother wasn’t happy with it, even though she wouldn’t forbid me anything,” Simone Pacini says.

The Italian ‘mammoni’

Mammoni is an Italian word for mama’s boy. A mammoni is a male who lives at home and appreciates the way his mother treats him, usually washing his clothes, making him dinner and do the cleaning.

He is the youngest of three and both of his brothers now work in the textile industry like their parents used to do. The middle brother now lives in the same house as their parents together with his wife and their children, and his oldest brother used to live in their childhood home. But Simone Pacini always knew that he wanted to live his life differently.

“From when I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to do something else. Being a family and working together leads to a lot of arguments,” he says. 

Today, he works as a primary school teacher, a field that in Italy is dominated by women, so he is an exception to the rule in more sense then one. But he knows plenty of the so-called mammoni.

Not for everyone to stay home

The view from Simone Pacini’s home. His family only lives a 10 minutes’ drive away and his work is even closer, but he enjoys being able to decide things for himself without having to deal with the family’s opinion. Photo: Liv Østerstrand

The word ‘mammoni’ is an Italian word for a mama’s boy. It’s a male who lives at home and really likes the way his mother treats him. 

“A friend of mine, he is a very handsome guys, and used to have all the girls he wanted. But he would always break up with them because he was comparing them with his mother. He was really serious when he said to them that they didn’t cook as good as his mother,” Simone Pacini says. 

For some, living at home with a mother to do the cooking and cleaning and washing is a luxurious life. For others, it’s a trap they can’t escape. 

“The problem is that you often don’t have a choice. The cultural part and the financial part are both reasons why some stay at home. Not everyone has enough money to live from their own wage.”

Simone Pacini consider himself lucky, because he from an early age got the chance to work as a teacher, so he could afford the rent. But still, he only lives a 10 minutes’ drive away from his parents. And if he doesn’t visit them for five days, his mom will say, that she hasn’t seen him in ages. 

Italian families in numbers
·88.3 percent of Italian men between aged 16 to 29 lives with their parents. That’s the third highest number in the EU

·Italy has the lowest share of residential mobility among those renting at market prices alongside Czech Republic and Slovenia (2012)
·58.3 percent of Italy’s expenditures on social protection benefits was directed to the old in 2015 which is the third highest number in the EU

·Less than 1 percent of total expenditures on social protection benefits was used for housing and social exclusion

Source: Eurostat