Vanessa Redgrave was, and still is, a very beautiful woman! Even if she was middle-aged in the film, the young Italian could still see how beautiful she was! He was probably attracted to her regardless.
He had a much better eye for beauty & he definately wasn't as fussy & particular as that older englishman she liked (couldn't understand what she saw in him!) That old bore wanted the way-too-young-for-him Uma...
It's becoming more acceptable now, for younger men to be up front about being attracted to an older women. Lots of people would've been be very surprised 10 or 20 yrs ago, to see how men in their 20's & 30's attempt, or want to become involved in a relationship with a woman 10 to 20 yrs older than themselves.
Now it's more out in the open and even trendy! Any man with a good mind would realize that you have so many more options, or opportunities, when your playing field isn't so limited by age. rite?
I've had several younger men (10+ yrs younger) ask me out, & come on to me when i was in my 40's & early 50's. But it's men my own age that don't want to believe it for some reason. It was very flattering of course, but not as uncommon as some people think it is. : >) : >
But the big reason I adore this movie tho is the magnificent scenery....