You’ve walked through the door, returning from a much-needed recess from the demands of daily life and are back to your regularly scheduled program. The first few days at work are spent reminiscing your strolls through historic Florence and the exquisite cuisine you enjoyed in that unassuming trattoria you stumbled upon when making a wrong turn. It’s bittersweet really, the feeling of nostalgia for breathtaking architecture, with your renewed appreciation for home.
These trips often leave us with that lingering craving to once again immerse ourselves in Italy’s “dolce vita” lifestyle.
So, the question simply is “Why don’t we?”
For many Italians, la dolce vita mentality is more about cherishing and preserving traditions than indulging in what we consider life’s pleasures. Meals at the table are an opportunity to gather; and sharing a meal transcends the physical nourishment — at the table is where we engage in stories and laughter, and celebrate togetherness, enjoying the company of loved ones.
And in a world driven by fast-paced progress filled with constant distraction and mounting pressures, the concept of slowing down to truly embrace life and savour simplicity is needed now more than ever.
Slowing down enough to enjoy moments, reminds us that life is much more than efficiently completing tasks and battling long supermarket lines, all to rush home for a short evening before preparing for tomorrow’s continued sequence. It’s an invitation to take a step back and indulge in life’s very treasured joys, cultivate strong relationships, and savour every delicious meal — ultimately connecting with life as we’re meant to and deserve to.
And food is just one way to do it.
It’s not novel knowledge to understand that traditional Italian Cuisine is characterized by its skillful use of fresh ingredients and earth-gifting bounty. Legumes, vegetables and fruits are at the very core of “Cucina Italiana”, (Italian Cuisine) lending to its association with being a Blue Zone country.
And how did Italy make it on that list?
By naturally living their dolce vita.
What we call “Mediterranean Diet” isn’t a thing in Italy — lifestyle, however, is.
A lifestyle comprised of daily activity even if just a stroll around the town square, simple food made from fresh in season ingredients, a strong commitment to preserving food during summer harvest months to readily enjoy during the winter, making meal times leisurely and embracing a slower more relaxed pace of life to truly enjoy the things that matter most.
It’s simple really; adopting this lifestyle of slow down work life balance, is how to best rejuvenate our minds, bodies and spirits to more readily press play and continue onward.
A morning espresso for instance is culture and a pleasurable one at that. Italians relish these simplicities we so often take for granted, and when they depart home for a stop to the bar to enjoy their second espresso before heading to work, is when they immerse in yet another cultural element: conviviality, the very activity that most accurately depicts la dolce vita.
Now if you’re a hopeless romantic for food, your thoughts may shift from espresso to pasta. I have a profound love affair with Italian food and making pasta by hand just like nonna did. Every movement is a romantic love story and the result… emotional.
Get into your kitchen and make pasta with me, won’t you?
You open the pantry to prepare your ingredients and tools: semolina, salt, water and a rolling pin. You put your apron on, play Scarlatti and begin.
Pasta making is in fact one of the most cathartic things to make in the kitchen — it’s about slow motion and connecting to ingredients, and it’s made entirely from love.
Many people don’t realize this until they hear me say, “You transmit more love as you knead and roll. And that love is most definitely tasted in your finished product. Pasta Al Pomodoro (pasta with tomatoes) is what we’re making. It’s one of the most traditional regional dishes that have been the very tapestry of Italian cuisine for centuries.
Fresh tomatoes and basil, garlic, olive oil and sea salt, are all you need.
Creating dishes from recipes of generations past, using simple and few ingredients married with traditional methods, to later share at the table with loved ones allows us to truly immerse ourselves in that local life we aim to find when travelling to Italy and crave to continue enjoying when we return home.
It’s embracing these simple cultural elements that encourages us to slow down, be in the moment and savour more of life. No matter the season, or weather, we deserve to take a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of life that inevitably makes its daily return – and if we engage our senses, taking a few extra seconds to enjoy the aroma of espresso, taste the amore in that pasta, take notice of the smile on someone’s face as we greet them while walking by, and immerse ourselves in the very sounds of nature, we begin to savour that very lifestyle we’ve craved for so long.
Whether it’s preparing a meal outdoors to enjoy during the summer, or stacking logs to cozy around the fire with a glass of wine with friends during cooler months, take the time to slow down and live your dolce vita right here at home.
Photography by Dominique DeBlois | Side Road Studio
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