5 things the Italians have got right
Having spent a reasonable amount of time in Italy and experienced a fair bit during our time here, here's a list of 5 things we have noticed about the Italians:
1. the first thing is that the Italians (or the ones we have met anyway) work to live. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. They work to have enough to live. This also means they know the meaning of, and practise the art of, living each and every day - in other words, having a work/life balance comes naturally. It is not something they need to learn or incorporate into their world. They don't need to read books or blogs or listen to podcasts about how to make it happen. They have it. It's simply there and every one in their circle has it too. So there is no need for explanation, justification, acceptance. Nothing to be done. Life is just that way.
2. Number (1) means that there is almost always no rush, hurry or urgency to get 'stuff' done (other than perhaps when meeting government-imposed deadlines (which are also extended quite regularly!) or when dealing with tourists (who have a different sense of time)). Time is not money. Time is time and money is money. If it can't be done today, it will be done tomorrow. That doesn't mean 'it' is not important. However, 'it' cannot become a hurdle so big that there is no time with the family or dinner is forgotten, or even worse, completely missed. That is not living.
3. Number (2) means that there is time to 'smell the roses'. Since things can extend to the next day or the next week, one can actually stop, contemplate, enjoy that unplanned coffee with a friend without feeling a sense of guilt. They don't need to give themselves permission to spend a few extra minutes 'living', nor do they need a life coach to tell them it's okay. They even have a phrase for this - il dolce far niente or the sweetness of doing nothing. This is soul food part uno (#1).
4. Number (3) allows one to spend more time with people, nurture bonds and have deeper and more meaningful relationships with family and friends and be connected, whilst enjoying all that life has to offer (a coffee, an aperitivo, a passeggiata (walk) in the evening, a play in the piazza, whatever that may be). This is soul food part due (#2).
5. Add to this the real food and of course il vino - the Italians deeply value food that is fresh and strive to use the best ingredients their money can buy (shopping for fruit and vegetables in a supermarket is frowned upon - why would you do that when there is a perfectly good market every week where you can get produce so fresh it still has dirt on it?) and of course enjoy (what we consider to be) the drink of the Gods - red red wine (and some white too). Some of the best meals of our lives have been eaten within a few kilometres of our home, using ingredients that are locally sourced, accompanied by wine that is produced in this little town of Montepulciano.
No mention of la dolce vita would be complete without mentioning the natural (and manmade) beauty, the history and culture and the unwavering Italian spirit, that we are surrounded by every day. All of these serve as constant reminders that we are part of something bigger, our daily strifes are just that and that life is meant to be lived and savoured.
What do you think? Comment below!
Paari & Niall