No one balances leisure and hard work quite as stylishly as the Italians. So if you find yourself at home more lately, consider adopting a more Italian lifestyle.
Lately, our Italian family has been at the forefront of our hearts. So, to send them some love we wanted to talk about some of our favorite parts of the Italian lifestyle. If you don’t know much about it, you might imagine it’s all pasta, wine, and those trendy Vespas. While that might be part of it, Italian culture really focuses on enjoying life to the fullest.
Sometimes that means putting on your favorite outfit for drinks with friends, and other times it means enjoying a leisurely evening walk with the family. Plus, any lifestyle that incorporates wine is worth giving a try.
Our lives can be pretty hectic. But with more of us spending time at home, we should use this opportunity to savor small joys, connect with family, and fall in love with life again. That’s something Italians are really good at. So, here are 10 ways you can adopt a more Italian lifestyle.
The Italian Lifestyle is About Slowing Down and Enjoying Life
The Italian phrase “Dolce far niente” roughly translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing” or “sweet idleness.” You may already be familiar with this phrase if you vicariously lived through Julia Roberts epic pasta-binge in the film Eat, Pray, Love. However, this concept has been part of Italian culture for a long time.
For those constantly on-the-go, this can be hard. It might feel like you’re being lazy, but this idea is about slowing down and enjoying the moment. That doesn’t mean consuming massive amounts of Netflix on the couch. It might mean drinking your morning coffee and enjoying the view from your window. Maybe for you, it’s playing music just for the joy of it, or even taking a full day of rest.
You may feel guilty at first, but slowing down and enjoying life is a simple practice that will give you a boost of happiness throughout your day.
Take a Long Lunch and Eat a Light Dinner
For many of us, lunch is a quick meal meant to give us the necessary fuel to power through a busy day. Then when dinner comes around, we have a large meal and end up going to bed with a full stomach. Everyone has different eating habits and dietary needs. However, eating is a very important part of Italian culture, and they do it very well.
For Italians, lunch is considered the most important meal of the day. Many businesses close during lunch hours so people can go home, enjoy a filling meal, and rest a bit before finishing work. In different parts of Italy, this is known as “riposo,” “pennichella,” or “pisolino” and it’s a practice we can definitely get behind.
Plus, eating a light dinner will help you sleep better, have less heartburn, and improve your digestion. So, consider taking a break around lunchtime to prepare a filling lunch and then eat something simple and light for dinner.
Try to Grow Some of Your Own Food
Speaking of food, try to grow some of your own! Many Italians grow their own vegetables, but if you have absolutely no green thumb or are short on space, you can easily grow a few simple herbs in a windowsill.
This is important for several reasons. First, taking care of plants will help you develop that sense of “dolce far niente.” Getting to nurture something and watch it thrive is a very special kind of joy. The second reason is that it may inspire you to cook more meals from scratch.
Cook More From Scratch
So many of us are guilty of eating out too much, ordering delivery food, or even just heating up frozen food. We’ve all been there and there’s no shame! But with more of us spending time at home, there’s no reason not to flex our cooking skills.
Maybe you didn’t inherit any recipes from an Italian nonna, but preparing a meal is one of the easiest ways to slow down and enjoy your food. And remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of the best Italian food is deceptively simple.
Take Care of Your “Bella Figura”
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your appearance. At first, you may want to wear the same pair of sweatpants over and over again, but resist the temptation. If nothing else, this is a good habit to get into for your mental health and your physical hygiene.
The phrase “bella figura” translates to “beautiful figure,” and Italians take a lot of pride in their appearance. They get dressed up for church, to run errands, and they rarely go barefoot even at home. Having a chic, elegant appearance is about dignity, hospitality, and politeness.
So, if you’re in work-mode then get dressed for work. About to video chat with friends? Put on your favorite outfit. Having a quiet, romantic dinner with your partner? Wear something…special 😉 Just don’t wear pajamas all day; you’ll thank us.
Enjoy a Walk
Whether you prefer to walk in the morning to help you wake up, or in the evening to help you wind down, walking is phenomenal for you. For Italians, an evening walk after dinner is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery, digest food, and shut off the TV and connect with family.
If you’re practicing social distancing, this is a good way to get some fresh air, stretch your legs, and boost your mood. Sign us up!
Learn to Live with Less
In the U.S., we tend to live with an attitude of “more is more.” But this can often leave us with a sense of “lack.” By always wanting more, we can feel like we never have enough. Italians, however, often have smaller cars, fridges, and even smaller closets.
The benefit of this is they’re cars need less gas, and their refrigerators and closets look fuller. But this extends far beyond material items! This concept is all about a feeling of abundance and satisfaction. Plus, with less space, Italians focus on filling those spaces with higher quality items.
For those of us living in more spacious homes, the lesson we should take from this is gratitude. Remember how insanely lucky we are for our homes, for the food in our kitchens, for the clothes on our backs, etc. Plus, start to purchase items more mindfully. Instead of stocking up on Sale and Clearance items, save up and buy the one thing you REALLY want.
Family is, perhaps, one of the biggest cornerstones of Italian culture. Their elders are respected and cared for, children are doted on, and large family gatherings are normal. For some U.S. families, this is still the case.
However, many of us are separated from family by hundreds of miles and visits are few and far between. If that’s the case, then weekly video chats or phone calls will help you catch up with each other and connect.
For those of us practicing social distancing with our families, this is an opportunity to spend quality time together. Cook together, play a board game, share a bottle of wine, or go on walks together.
Enjoy Time with Friends
Just how those of us practicing social distancing have more time to appreciate family, we should also appreciate and enjoy time with friends. Many Italians catch up with friends and neighbors during their evening walks, but how do we stay connected with friends when we’re stuck at home?
This is a great opportunity to develop “aperichat.” Happy hour in Italian is “aperitivo,” and even though most Italians are now stuck at home, it’s still a priority to engage with friends. That’s how “aperichat” was born. It’s basically the same thing as happy hour, but now people are sharing a glass of wine via video chat.
So if you find yourself missing friends, there’s no reason not to schedule a virtual party, open a bottle of wine, unwind, and catch up with friends.
Speaking of wine, have a glass!
Wine is such an integral part of Italian culture, in part because there are several regions of Italy that are phenomenal for growing grapes. Plus, many speculate that drinking one glass of red wine may provide several benefits including less oxidative stress, less inflammation, and longevity.
It’s important to remember, however, if you drink in excess you lose all of the benefits. That’s why it’s recommended to only have 1-2 glasses of wine a day. So, enjoy those glasses! Each glass of wine is a celebration and an excuse to relax and enjoy life. There’s nothing more Italian than that.
Enjoy Living a More Italian Lifestyle
We give you permission to relax, to not feel guilty for loving life, and we give you permission to laugh and embrace your loved ones (or virtually connect). There’s so much in the world that we have no control over, so it’s important to control what we can.
If you can take a lunch break and cook with your children, do it. If you can virtually drink a glass of wine with a friend, cheers! If you have an opportunity to love your life, then love it to the fullest. Treat your body, mind, and spirit well. And remember, every day there’s a reason to celebrate life with a glass of wine.
If you’re ready to adopt the Italian lifestyle, show us by tagging us in your next Italian inspired Instagram post. Plus, don’t forget to stock up on all your favorite bottles so you can celebrate more every day.
Cheers! Salute! Santé! Salud! Skål!
I am a huge fan of the Italian lifestyle and their attitude toward life. And the food is so good.
I ate the best pasta with ragu in Venice and pizza in Milan. Love to enjoy long lunches too.