The rhythm of the Italian lifestyle is quite distinct from our fast paced, always-on-the-go American ways. Italians embrace life with a casual attitude, always looking to appreciate the subtle beauties of every moment. Welcoming a more Italian approach to our daily routines, we can adopt an overall lifestyle that flows according to the cadence of our own nature. The Italians can teach us a great deal about how to entertain the beauty of simplicity, reminding us to slow down, take it easy, and smell the flowers along the way.
After all, what's the rush?
Family plays a central role in daily Italian life. It’s typical to get three phone calls from your mother asking if you’ve already eaten lunch just as much as it’s the norm to watch the evening soccer match with your dad and brothers. Rooted in loyalty, respect and unity, family values are highly regarded and takes precedence over all other matters.
Food and family go hand in hand when it comes to the Italian way, and one without the other simply does not exist. Gathering in the kitchen to prepare wholesome foods is often accompanied by family and friends discussing world views, keeping up to date with the latest gossip and laughing over a glass of wine. Simply enjoying each other’s presence over conversation, meals are shared and served with love being valued as a way to maintain close ties with one another.
There is an Italian proverb saying “Chi mangia sulo s’affoga” which translates to “He who eats alone suffocates.” Spending quality time together and eating as a family is vital to living an overall happier and healthier lifestyle. Given the demands of modern society it isn’t always possible to gather for every meal, but it is treated as priority to visit family and friends on a regular basis.
The act of preparing food alone is an art in it of itself, and it all starts with the source of ingredients. Italians have a fine eye for distinguishing quality ingredients and won’t accept anything less than the best. It’s common to find little home gardens on balconies and terraces growing herbs, spices, and small fruits and veggies. And just as important as the final product, purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers and shopkeepers cultivates a sense of trust amongst the community.
“There is no technique, there is just the way to do it.
Now, are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
Italy’s culinary excellence has thrived throughout time by virtue of practice. Preserving tradition is an integral part of familial, regional and cultural identity. Passed down from generation to generation, many recipes are rooted in oral tradition and maintained by cooking together and sharing those secret little touches.
Instant meals in packaged boxes are blasphemous in the Italian household. Eating slowly through each course served and mindfully enjoying the savors of each bite, food is recognized as a celebrated experience.
Italians lead an active lifestyle incorporating a wide variety of activities into their daily routines. The day is broken up by stopping for a quick coffee at the bar, meeting with friends after work to enjoy a spritz and aperitivo, and perhaps participating in group sports or activities in the evening. Social culture is very open and it’s easy to make new friends everywhere.
Italians emphasize the importance of maintaining a life outside of work routines, even if it’s just taking a simple walk around the park or neighborhood to get some fresh air and light exercise. Maintaining movement at a casual pace, the Italian life is never still and always involves taking up new ventures with great friends. Being out and about and spending leisure time during everyday happenings helps to balance out work and home life, resulting in significantly less stress.
And of course, what is the Italian way without some amore? The nature of Italian love is often very serious and committed. Dating culture is less exploited as family values play an important role in how relationship dynamics play out. Real love is valued over superficial relationships, and it’s typical to see young couples together for several years. Honesty, loyalty, trust and being on mamma’s good side are the key ingredients to maintaining happy, long term relationships.
Still somehow madly in love after fifty-something years of marriage, it’s typical to see elderly couples holding hands as they watch their grand babies play about. Italians uphold a romantic perspective on life and it reflects in the various facets of their culture and society.
Passionate about art, beauty and life in general, Italians infuse romance into everything they do! Whether it’s cooking a simple meal, meeting in the piazza with some friends or visiting local villages, Italians add a simple romantic touch to the little moments to make them all the more special.
So why not view the world through rose tinted glasses and fall in love with your own life?
La Dolce Vita
So the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the romans do. But you don’t actually need to be in Italy to adopt some of the values, norms and day to day lifestyle habits that work together to create a more wholesome, balanced and authentic lifestyle.
We often get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to value the importance of family and miss out on the small things that make each day special. We can appreciate life all the more when we slow down and take the time to enjoy the sweetness of each moment
So cook with curiosity, stroll around with a wandering eye, and grab some gelato on the while you’re at it!