10/13/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
Raoul Bova, 32, is a major TV and film star in Italy, but most Americans are laying eyes on him for the first time in the new romance Under the Tuscan Sun
, in which he plays the hunky bon vivant who mixes it up with Diane Lane. A national swimming champion before becoming an actor, Bova is looking for more work in Hollywood. But "it's not easy to come here from Italy," says Bova, who has two young sons with his veterinarian wife, Chiara Giordano, 30. "L.A. is so big; everything is so fast." He is, however, already familiar with Hollywood kisses. During a 1999 Max Factor commercial shoot, he spent the day kissing Madonna
, "just like Britney Spears
," he says, laughing. "Now I have to kiss Britney so we close the circle."