31 May, 2022

About a year ago (without speaking a word of Italian), I had the brilliant idea of moving to a small town in northern Italy for love. “It is temporary” I lied to myself. Long story short, three months turned into over a year. 

When life gives you Italy, it is an opportunity you cannot miss. It is the chance to learn a new language by force, to be adopted by a bunch of friendly Italians and to experience the “dolce vita” from the inside. Even though their exceptional cuisine, culture, traditions and beautiful cities are reasons enough to admire them, I must say that what I love the most is the way Italians enjoy life and it sums up more or less like this: “mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto” 

MANGIA BENE (eat well)

Please believe me when I say that if you are new to the country you will develop a love affair with food. Different from what many think, first thing I noticed was that food in Italy is simple. The secret lies in the good quality of the ingredients, not only because of the Mediterranean weather but also thanks (in big part) to their agricultural protectionist policies: Italy has the biggest biodiversity in the world when it comes to fruits and vegetables as they develop many local varieties in each region. Another secret is that they wait for the right time of the year to consume the right product: asparagus and strawberries in Spring, tomatoes and figs in the Summer, mushrooms and pumpkin in the Fall, and citrics in the Winter, to name a few. They also give importance to its origin, which certifies its quality: DOC, DOCG, IGT, IGP, DOP, WTF?, LOL! and as a general rule, the closer it’s been produced, the better.

RIDI SPESSO (laugh often)

Italians praise friendship like no other. I bet you asked yourself more than once why is it so complicated to coordinate a friends gathering among yours. Perhaps it’s the fact that it is harder in big cities due to long distances and busy schedules, but here in Italy, famous aperitivos are sacred no matter where you live: everyone shows up, specially on Friday evenings. From a sociological point of view, I dare to say that aperitivos are not only part of the Italian DNA but also spaces where adults forge friendship. And like everything in the Italian life, aperitivos involve drinks and food (Spritz/Aperol Campari + cicchetti to be more specific in the Veneto region, where I live). And consequently, laughter: aperitivos usually turn into long dinners and it only takes some music to turn it into a party. I thought we Argentines were fun, spontaneous and friendly, but I can confirm from experience that Italians are as equal or more.

AMA MOLTO (love much)

I relate this straight to the fact that Italians live thoroughly. Here, you live at a different pace from the rest of the world: “chi va piano, va sano e va lontano” (slow and steady wins the race). Not for nothing this is the country who invented the “slow living” concept. When living in Italy, you get to enjoy the “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing) without guilt and slow down to appreciate the little things in life. In other words, Italians live passionately and you can see this by the way they speak, work, greet, cook and (obviously) show affection.

When life gives you Italy, it gives you big little moments: summer parties at vineyards, countless pistacchio gelatos, discovering 500-year-old villas around the corner, strolls by the sea, breathtaking views anywhere you go and many dinners with incredible people I have the privilege to call my friends.

Arrivederci bella Italia, mi mancherai.