It has been a year since I left the safety of my friends, family and safety and set off for the adventure of a lifetime: studying abroad in Italy. I didn’t know that my luggage would be lost for a week, and I would learn that I could survive off one outfit, no makeup, no hair products and no razor. I didn’t know that I would learn to set my fears and anguishes aside and “live in the moment”. And, I didn’t know that I would come back a month later and live my life almost no differently, other than the fact that I had some great new friends, and a newfound love for wine.
Browsing through my Timehop, I see a different person. I see a carefree, fun, excited human being who is just happy to be alive and be observant.
I think to myself, “Why can’t I be like that?”
Therefore, I compiled a list of 5 ways to live life like an Italian, because in some ways they have it all figured out.
1. Enjoy everything in moderation.
This one is major. You will never hear an Italian woman turn down pasta because of the carbohydrate count. You will never hear a man giving up gelato because he is afraid he will get a “dad bod”. IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN. Italians enjoy the little things, in moderation. They eat the gelato, but they also eat fresh watermelon, caprese salads and more asparagus than they can grow. So, I say enjoy the sweet things in life, just don’t forget your vegetables too.
2. Love passionately.
The couples in Italy are passionate beyond recognition. I have never seen a group of people love so intensely in my entire life. They fondle in parks, they fight in bars and they gaze adoringly into each other’s eyes over a café. They aren’t afraid to put their heart on the line for love, something we all could use a little more of. Americans, especially my generation, are so terrified to find love that it hinders a lot of what we do, say and believe. We fear it will end in divorce; we fear we will miss out on life; we fear we will turn out like our parents; we fear what others will think or say about us. If you’re me, you fear all four. But Italians don’t fear those things. They just let love radiate out of them in a way that leaves us awestruck and envious.
3. Take time for friends and family.
I am a “five minutes early is on time” kind of person, a concept that Italians refuse to comprehend. Why? Because they spend extensive amounts of time talking to their friends, their families, their family’s friends and their friends’ families. They let the hours go by without a though about their promptness, because they value their relationships, not their obligations. As a person who is always “too busy” to hang out with someone or “in a rush” to get to work or a workout, value in relationships is seriously lacking in my life.
4. Take a nap.
Or, as they call it in Italy, a siesta. Siestas are important! Seriously, I never knew the value of a nap until I took on in Italy. Nothing is more refreshing than an hour-long nap in the middle of the day. It rejuvenates your brain and prepares you to finish the workday strong. It also makes you a nicer person, which is always a good thing.
5. Drink more wine, but don’t get wasted.
Italians drink more wine than I have ever seen consumed. They drink it for lunch, dinner and everything in between. Can you stand taller than the bar? Good, then you can be served alcohol. Really. No joke, I saw a toddler drinking wine out of a sippy cup at dinner once. But, they are never wasted. They are never stumbling on the cobblestone streets puking up the remnants of their Gusta Pizza. No, they are social drinkers. They drink to enhance the moment, not to forget it. They like alcohol, but alcohol does not define their personality. They might get louder and friendlier, but they never get belligerent, hurtful or tearful, something I always envied and admired.
You may think that some of these lifestyle choices are “unrealistic” or, in the case of my annoying, pessimistic, alter ego, “selfish”. But, to those, including that annoying, pessimistic, alter ego, I say, that’s what’s wrong with our society. We think that being selfish is a bad thing. We think that putting our personal lives above our work lives is unrealistic. We spend so much time worrying about our 401k and the opinions of others that we forget to LIVE.
We can’t all live in Italy, and they probably prefer it if we don’t. But, we CAN take lessons from their culture and traditions. So, take one…or two…or 10; make some changes; follow your passions; spend an extra hour with your family; fall passionately in love; stop worrying; and, eat some pizza.