We just returned this Sunday from our month-long sojourn in Umbria, rested and relaxed. Everyone in the family was sorry to leave such a beautiful country so full of soul, delicious food, and friendly people.
After living in Italy for a month, I've come home with a few observations. While I do relish many components of the American life, I believe that we Americans could take some cues from the Italians; people who know how to live La Bella Vita- The Good Life.
Take It Slow
Italians are masters of the art of slow living. Life in America goes at a breakneck pace, while life in Italy meanders, strolls, or floats along at a much more leisurely speed. People stop for an espresso or cappuccino on their way into work at a local bar and take small passeggiatas (walks) through the city after the work day is over. Unlike in America, the Italian city doesn't go to sleep after 9 pm. The streets are full of people, especially in the summer, until 1 or 2 or 3 am and not just with young people, but with families pushing strollers enjoying a late night gelato!
Italian life is wonderfully communal. Many homes are multi-generational, with grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins all living under the same roof. Other homes are duplexes or triplexes, with multiple families living in close proximity to each other, sharing meals, gossip, and small everyday delights and sorrows. In Italy, each person is loyal to his or her own neighborhood bar, butcher, grocery store, and newsstand. Even large cities like Rome and Milan don't have the impersonal chill that has frosted over so many American hubs like New York or LA.
Joie de Vivre (wrong language, the right sentiment)
Italians live with exhuberance and gusto. They laugh heartily, argue intensely, eat well, and love passionately. Every now and again, it's a good thing to let loose. Getting riled up, excited, and enthusiastic is a major stress release and an important part of a healthy, happy life.
If you can, I urge you to take a trip to Italy and experience this wonderful country for yourself. If not, take this advice and live La Vita Bella right here at home.