The title of the post is intentionally exaggerated but I am sure that adopting some little Italian lifestyle habits can make your life if not happier definitely more relaxed.
No matter how I complain about Italian culture and lifestyle – we Italians always do it, every day – there are some traits of our culture that I really like and that I think can make life better, so I thought I might share them with you.
I am always very hesitant when I write this kind of posts because I always fear you might think I am boasting about Italian culture, deeming it better than the others – which is something that is absolutely not true. As I said, I always complain about Italians and I always say how we could be better and do better – there are so many things we could improve!
Moreover, I love travelling and I am never tired of learning about other cultures and ways of life. There is always so much to learn if you venture outside of your house and start exploring what you don’t know, so I will never think that my culture is the best or superior to others – so, please don’t misunderstand me or this post!
It’s just that by travelling and speaking with people and learning more about other lifestyles, I tend to compare my way of life to that of others and my Italian traits to the ones of other cultures. After doing this, I have somehow come to the conclusion that some of our habits definitely make our life better – surely not more productive but definitely more relaxed.
So I thought I’d share these ideas with you, so that maybe they can inspire you to live a slower or more relaxed life. And I promise that I will soon write a post about all the things I hate about Italians to compensate!
Treat food seriously
Even if I keep on saying that we Italians are too serious about food – and we are, believe me – it is also true that we give food the importance it deserves, which is the first thing to do for a healthier life. We have been raised to consider food a vital part of our life – it’s what gives us daily energy, after all – and we take it really seriously.
We would never eat in a car, while driving to work, we would never eat while watching tv, we would always eat together, as a family. There might be exceptions, of course, but our DNA tells us that when it is time to eat, it is also time to sit down and take a little moment to enjoy the food.
We tend to buy local – markets are a very big thing, here in Italy – and seasonally. I would never eat strawberries or tomatoes in December because I have always been taught to take advantage of what the season has in store for you. This might seem a sacrifice but it’s not because seasonal food is tastier and healthier. And the pleasure of finally tasting some fruit or vegetable again, after a year, is unbeatable.
Take things slowly – and waste a little time
One of the things I love the most about Italian culture and lifestyle is that we take time into high consideration – exactly like we do with food. How do we do so? Easy, by wasting it!
In modern societies, we are always taught to be productive, to stay focused and organized, to make the most of our time, to always do something to achieve something. Well, this is undoubtedly true from a business point of view but life is more than just business, right?
So I really love the fact that we Italians love to do nothing – sometimes, at least. We spend hours at our local bar chatting with friends and strangers about nothing, we go for a walk, not to hike, not to go somewhere, not to exercise, just to go for a walk, we spend hours at the table, after Sunday lunch, just to enjoy time together. And these are some of the times I treasure the most, surely more than my most productive hours.
Spend time with friends and family – and neighbours too.
Family ties are important, here in Italy. You know that, right? Sometimes, they are too important and can make you feel as if you are suffocating, especially if you are young and feel the need to run free. Actually, as you grow older, you realize how important such ties are since you can help each other and be there if a family member needs your help. For example, I used to hate them but nowadays Sunday lunches at my parents’ – every now and then – are really precious for me as I know that they won’t last forever.
I am sure that family abroad is as important as it is here in Italy but I feel there is a difference in the way friends are treated, in some cultures at least. I had a Dutch boyfriend, back in the days, and one of my biggest cultural shocks was seeing the way relationships with friends were treated, scheduling dates on your diary as if you are going to the dentist or setting up a business meeting.
Here, friends are the ones you find daily at your local bar, the ones you call on Saturday night to see if they feel like going out for a pizza, everything is more casual, more relaxed, more “I want to see you, are you there?”. Booking an appointment with a friend in two months’ time seems a bit cold to me – unless we are doing something special together – but this is probably just my passionate Italian side.
But tell me, is there something about Italian culture that you really enjoy or something that has helped you improve your life?
If you are interested in learning more about Italian culture and lifestyle, I’d suggest you jump on my digital Vespa and join Be Italian For A Month, your 30-day virtual journey to Italy.
You will also learn some Italian words, you’ll receive some typical Italian recipes – ready to be cooked and enjoyed, you’ll get to tour around Italy, and learn about Italian traditions, proverbs, stereotypes, you name it. Plus, some cute surprises along the way!