An Italian Lesson

There is something magical about stepping foot in Italy for the first time. The air, an unfamiliar language, even the sound of transportation is different. My first hour in Florence is now one of my favorite memories that was accompanied by a feeling so distinct. A feeling of uncertainty, but heavy with a promise that something life-changing was about to occur. After four months of being immersed in the Italian culture, I’ve come to know this: there are things you’ll learn by visiting Florence, and then there are lessons you’ll learn by living in Florence. The Italian culture is something special. Rich in history, art, literature, food, and so much more, there are many admirable aspects of living that we can adopt for a happier and more fulfilling life. After all, our travels transform us into walking stories, a compilation of places we’ve seen and people we’ve met. What better way to carry these experiences with us than to adopt pieces of a culture to make it our own? Here are a few simple ways we can integrate Italian culture into our everyday lives:

Walk

Growing up in a small, rural town in America, walking was a foreign method of getting from one destination to another. In Florence, however, walking is the norm and is typically the quickest way to navigate the labyrinth of streets in the city. Walking, as simple as it seems, is something that can easily be integrated into our everyday lives. When we ditch the car and choose to walk when we can, we will not only be helping the environment, but ourselves too. Plus, I’m convinced a breath of fresh air can get our minds going in the right direction.

Slow Down

One thing I’ve noticed about the Italians is how they take their time. I don’t think this is something I ever really got used to, but it’s something I admire about them. Their pace of walking is slower, their dinners are longer and overall they don’t seem to be in a hurry too often. Slowing down can really help us to live in the moment more. It’ll give us time to notice details we might usually overlook, and I’m sure we’ll appreciate more when we give ourselves extra breathing room. Whether we choose to wake up a little earlier to make ourselves breakfast, or not to procrastinate, we can spend less time worrying and more time living. It’s the small things that make a big difference.

 

Turn it off

If you look around an authentic Italian restaurant, you’ll notice the lack of LED screens glowing on the faces of those at the tables. Wi-Fi is a luxury in Italy. Not every restaurant and store is guaranteed to have free access, forcing you to put your phone away. It’s the best way to get to know the person across from you and just goes to show we don’t need to be connected twenty-four- seven. Harboring meaningful conversation begins with something as simple as this and I promise you it is going to be more memorable than anything you see on social media!

Less is more

Italians have a natural, poised nature about them. I notice this especially in their appearance. Their hair and makeup isn’t overdone and their style is composed of beautiful classics. Simplifying can be as easy as working with what we have instead of buying and consuming more. Coming from such a consumerist nation, this aspect of Italian culture may be harder to adopt. It requires a change of mindset which isn’t instant. It takes time and a clear conscious to make decisions that will ultimately transform your way of living.

Adopting a culture doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it’s best that we simply embrace what we love most about it and leave behind what we don’t. It’s all about being observant and open to a new style of living. Visiting is merely a peek in the window, an outside look in, while living requires opening the door and stepping inside. Living in Florence isn’t about the amount of time you spend there, but about what you do with your time while you’re there. Culture is moving, it’s transformational, but completely optional to embrace. I encourage you to embrace the unfamiliar because it might just be the most fulfilling way to live.

 

xx Mariah

Photo via Tumblr