Do as the Italians do, Italian Traditions by Julie Furlong
Before I return to Europe again this month, I thought I’d better share this post, which I have been meaning to get out. I wrote it 2 years ago (in July 2016), when I was fortunate enough to take a little Italian holiday. ITALIA, of course was amazing. It was big, romantic, busy, over whelming, heavily populated and certainly had its faults. However, when you scratch the surface, you quickly learn how wonderful and rich it is and how much it has to offer. Especially the hospitable, generous, good humoured, people.
Before this visit, I had not been to Italy since my backpacking days over 28 years ago. Yes, it is still chaotic, but this time I was not as young and naive as my last visit, where being cool took precedence over practically. It was 1990, when my mate and I arrived. However, within minutes of arriving at Rome train station, we were surrounded by gypsies and with a flash of a boob (from an old Grandma gypsy), our passports and money were taken from under our noses! The rest of our trip was spent trying to recover them and other than that, there was not much more I can remember.
But this time was oh so different, I was older, wiser and had a little more in my back pocket. Every moment was a pleasure. I felt indulged with the enormous amount of options of things to do, to experience, see and taste. Seriously, I did not have one bad meal.
This time I paid attention, I planned my time and slowly soaked in the surroundings. My biggest observation of all, was the people and the fact that they have not lost sight of Italian traditions. With the distraction of today’s technology and the expectation of instant gratification (Read: Living The Now) I feel we have lost some sight of human connection (Read: Face to Face Communication). But not the Italians, they are all over it!
They are so passionate, traditional, personable and engaged and from what I saw, we can learn a lot from them. They are all so intensely connected, with strong family beliefs and values.
The result? They are so much more human.
As you have probably read in my past posts, at the end of the day, people need people (Read: The Happy Plan). It’s an ingredient to happy living. Nothing replaces strong connections and good relationships, built over the years.
It was a pleasure sitting in the piazza every day watching the Italian people meet up and interact with family, friends, children, kids, cousins’, neighbours and even their dogs. With not a worry in the world, just connecting and keeping good company and enjoying the food. From these five observations, I highlighted some wonderful ways Italians maintain connections. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from them and also remain connected and happy too…
Gather around good food, family and friends
Surround yourself with family and friends. Italian’s always seem to find time for this, it’s important to them – it’s everything. No matter what side of the family you are on, they support each other and have that special bond. Always enjoying good food, wine and conversation. They also stop everything for food preparation. They always find the time to eat properly, finishing up with a good coffee. And yes, spaghetti and pasta are always on the menu.
Tell a good story
Italians have a cheeky sense of humour. They tell a good story and they know how to tell it. They speak passionately, as though they truly mean it – which they do, of course. And yes, they all use their hands along with a heap of other gestures, which is great as you truly do feel engaged when speaking with them.
Be a bit Cheeky!
Italians are generous, proud and communicative people, loving to chat. They like to smile and are friendly and hospitable. What I enjoyed the most is the fact that a lot of them are a bit cheeky, spontaneous and playful. They like to bend the rules and sometimes I think its ok, as long as no one gets hurt. With a ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ approach – never taking life too seriously.
Just enjoy, slow down… no hurry
Italians don’t seem to hurry nor worry too much, they are more relaxed and in the moment (Read: Living The Now), appreciating the smaller things in life without worrying about what the future will bring. Meals tend to linger, whether they be at restaurants or at home. There's significantly less emphasis put on being on time.
Look after yourself
The Italians definitely know how to dress, with style for every possible occasion. Your public image is absolutely everything. ‘Bella figura’ is not just about being beautiful or looking good, it’s about leaving a good impression which is a way of life for the Italians.
Yes, Italy is chaotic, with huge queues to every mind-blowing attraction. Nothing, no-where seems to be too organised. But, when you are there and you are in the moment, it does not matter. It’s so beautiful to sit back and witness the culture and people, with the Italians being so easy-going and positive, going about daily life, with pleasure and a smile. If you are ever lucky enough to go, the ‘piazza’ is where it’s at, it’s the hub of every town and where it all happens. I recommend you go there for a long lunch or dinner and soak it all in. Then I’m sure you will see for yourself how the Italians have not lost sight of their values and how important it is to continue tradition, engage with people, listen to each other and build quality relationships that last forever.