La Dolce Vita

I am madly in love with Italy (don't tell NYC). This year our summer began there. My family and I visited the captivating city of Rome and the picturesque towns of the Amalfi Coast. 

In Rome, we rented an apartment in the Campo de Fiori area. For more than a week we immersed ourselves in Italian culture. We ate gelato twice a day, drank wine before noon, pretended the words gluten-free didn’t exist, shopped at local markets, wandered from one delightful alleyway to the next, took in historical sites, and even saw the Pope; a major moment for me!

In Nerano, we ate some of the best food I’ve ever had in Italy. We discovered hidden coves amidst crystal clear water and spent hours swimming in the Mediterranean. Our villa was surrounded by lemon trees and mountains. It seemed as though life couldn’t get any better.  

We soon realized our two-week dream is an everyday reality for the folks here.

My husband, Matt and I spent time speaking with the locals, learning about their day to day life. We spoke to tour guides, chefs, property owners, government officials, taxi drivers, merchants, and waiters. While their means to earn a living are different, their sentiment on life is the same - enjoy it!

The Italians don’t sweat the small stuff. They have a lot more leisure time and never appear to be in a rush, unlike me, who bolts out the front door with my shoes barely on.  

Our driver, Salvatore, told us how he and his family take two months off every year to spend the summer in Thailand. Matt and I wanted to understand how he manages to do that, yet have a job to return to and pay his bills. So, Matt asked him. Salvatore told us, for the remainder of the year he works full-time. He also explained his annual leave of absence is just a part of life there. Meaning he doesn’t list taking time off under the “Would be nice” category. He makes it a priority; a lifestyle choice, as do most people in Italy.

How do they do it? Well, Matt and I are still trying to figure that out. If I had to guess, I would say they live simpler lives; well within their means. It also helps when the entire nation subscribes to the idea of work-life balance. Italy has a legal minimum of 20 paid vacation days in addition to 12 paid holidays and a guarantee of reduced hours throughout the work week - must be nice!

Like most people in this country, Matt and I aren't in a position to take off for two months at a time, at least not yet, or linger in a cafe for hours. That didn't stop us from adopting a few Italian practices into our fast-paced American life.

Here are 10 things you can do to live more like an Italian.

  1. Spend quality time with friends and family more often.

  2. Sit down at a table to eat your meal. That means no eating at your desk or in front of a screen. Find the lunch room at your office or a table outside.

  3. Take an afternoon break, even if it's just 15 minutes: go for a walk, get some sun, sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee rather than have it handed to you from a drive thru window.

  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  5. Stop rushing. (I'm trying) 

  6. Enjoy all things in moderation. Yes, you can eat a bowl of pasta and ice cream, and still survive.

  7. Have an easy-going and positive outlook on life.

  8. Take time to cook fresh meals, ask a friend or family member to cook with you.

  9. Walk more.

  10. Have a glass of wine in the middle of the day -  just don’t get drunk!

Here are some photos from our trip, if you would like to take a look.