Any trip to Italy reminds us of how the Italians value and celebrate all aspects of life. From taking time to eat and drink well, to spending time with family, and appreciating beautiful architecture and design, as well as living in a lovely warm climate, we think they’ve got it sussed. Here are 8 ways the Italian Lifestyle can teach us to appreciate life more.
Taking a Proper Lunch Break
We’re not just talking an hour here – the Italian habit of shutting up shop for a good few hours over lunch is worth considering. It means everyone has time to eat a decent meal, and even have a little snooze, before returning to work refreshed and raring to go. We think it’s very civilized and beneficial for a sense of wellbeing.
Talking, Talking, Talking
Italians love to talk. We know that expressing your emotions instead of bottling them up is always better for your health, and the Italians have embraced that fact. Hop onboard an Italian train, and you’ll find that whoever is sitting nearby will want to exchange a few words. As we know, Italian’s talk with their hands as well as their voices, so you get a bit of a workout for your body, as well as the chance to vent your emotions and opinions, too! They also like a bit of physicality while talking – for example, a friendly hand on the shoulder, or ruffle of a child’s hair – and science tells us that touching is good for us, releasing the feel-good hormone oxytocin. The Italian Lifestyle is all about enjoying the moment, and Italians’ love of talking is a good example of that. They’re rarely too busy to stop for quick natter.
Eating a Mediterranean Diet
A great deal of research on the Mediterranean diet has proven that it’s good for you – particularly eating plenty of tomatoes, olive oil, fresh fruit and veg, fresh fish, and a glug or two of decent red wine. In fact, it’s even been recognized by UNESCO* as being representative of the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. Food is a key component of the Italian Lifestyle, and it’s one of the main reasons we all love the country so much. Even if you’re simply eating pasta with a simple drizzle of garlic and olive oil, in Italy the meal should be an occasion, eaten with other people, sitting at a table, and with proper respect for the food and yourself. Eating while rushing around, or sitting alone at a computer is a no-no. Adopt the Italian respect for food, and you’re sure to feel an improvement to your life.
Drinking a Lot of Coffee
It might not quite fit with most doctors’ advice, but it seems to us that the frequent highly-caffeinated espresso hits taken by most Italians throughout the day pep up life no end.
Being Proud of the Local Culture
Whichever beautiful Italian town, city, or village you end up visiting, ask any local, and they will tell you why it’s the best one. Italians are fiercely proud of the place they’re from, and will tell you all about its traditions and food. Local shops always sell the specialties of the region and the shopkeepers will be knowledgeable about each item. This love of local has also meant that markets thrive in Italy, as well as small shops. Going to get your daily groceries from a bustling and vibrant outdoor market is tangibly better for you than wandering up and down the strip-lit rows of an indoor supermarket. This pride in local produce is also a great source of self-confidence, which is beneficial to anyone.
OK, so if you’re a young attractive woman, this aspect of Italian life can be a bit of a pain, but the beneficial aspect of celebrating beauty is that Italy is full of wonderful things to look at. The Renaissance churches have been immaculately preserved, buildings and artworks all over Italy are some of the most ornate and breathtaking in the world. They’ve built entire town centres out of marble, for goodness sake. And they really do make wonderful clothes. Thumbs up for a bit of beauty to enhance all our cultural appreciation.
Taking an Evening Passeggiata
The passeggiata is a leisurely walk or stroll, taken in the evening for the purpose of socializing. Exercise, showing off your new outfit, enjoying a drink or gelato at the local bar, taking pleasure in a warm evening, and hanging with your friends, all rolled into one. It’s how to enjoy life in one simple word.
Valuing Family Time
Every Italian loves their nonna and any bambini in their family. Take a baby to Italy and it will be appreciated, have its little cheeks squeezed and be passed around for cuddles. Italian’s love their families, and tend to stay living closer to their extended family than Brits do. Of course, families can be annoying, but if they’re close by, you can simply pop in everyday or so and catch up, or be fed with nonna’s amazing pasta on a Sunday, without having to spend days together. It’s a healthier relationship all round.
*UNESCO summarises the Mediterranean Diet, as follows: ‘The Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community. However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita, or way of life) encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco are examples. Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques.’