There’s no Frenzy in Pleasure, and that’s the Secret of “La Dolce Vita”
Federico Fellini gave us this expression that has become in many ways synonym with Italian lifestyle. Maybe the mix of earthiness with fantasy and the baroque is still part of it. But it’s what touches people that sticks with them.
“Il dolce far niente” (sweet doing nothing) is one of the most gratifying experiences in life. It takes work for anyone used to the busyness of their days to slow down and pause frequently.
The key is to have the right incentives – a sense of humor, a dash of boldness, and an appreciation for the tactile.
It helps to be touchy-feely
Italians make time for family and friends – and for the small things that give us pleasure in the course of the day. Why put it off?
Rather than sprinting head down to a destination, we look around, notice and appreciate beauty in whatever form – a flower, a building, the lovely face of a child, birds perched on a tree. We stop for chance encounters, hugs and kisses on both cheeks.
A civilized pause in mid-morning for espresso and maybe a little sweet while standing at the counter at the café – say hi to the barista, ask about her family. Chat with the other patrons, look around. There’s no reason to dash in and out, nor to linger in a corner for hours.
Human contact is a fabulous stimulant for the immune system. It’s also energizing.
… And to make the time for a good meal and a short nap
The best meals are simple, often home cooked. A little pasta with vegetables, or a salad with a slice of bread and a glass of wine eaten on a real plate. Sitting down, chewing properly, having a real conversation do miracles for your waistline… and self-esteem.
About that glass of wine I mentioned – just one. That’s it. Moderation is the operative word of Italian lifestyle. Don’t forget the metric system where centimeters and millimeters are the building blocks. A bite, a little more than a sip, one slice, a handful are our measurements.
My mother was a producer for a busy ad agency. Still, she came home for lunch with us. After eating, she’d move her plate to the side, and put her head down for ten minutes. Now I’m not suggesting you get a kink in your neck, it’s the rest that helps.
Science has now caught up with nature – It’s been proven, a 20-minute nap after lunch is refreshing.
But it’s not just about taking naps. The idea is to rest in between blocks of hard concentration and activity. Like interval training. By the way, bad food is never an option. Easy for us to say, right? Eat better food, you’ll eat less of it.
Embrace instinct, romance, and all your senses
Literally, smell the flowers, take in the sights, appreciate the voices and sounds of being alive. We have no Joshua Bells with Stradivarius experimenting in our cities, but any musician will evoke the enjoyment of a curious child.
This to me is the essence of living La Dolce Vita. To touch with our hands, invite the romance of what’s around us in. We’re artisans of our lives, crafting the experiences by participation.
People notice and slow down, some even stop, others even improvise a short waltz when someone plays under the porticos or in the piazzas. And it’s not even a concert, just someone trying to earn a few euros.
“La Dolce Vita” is within reach
You don’t have to move to Italy to find the sweet life. Simple changes into our daily routines to include more interaction with your family, friends, and neighbors Is a good start. Take a little time to prepare and enjoy good, healthy meals.
Talk about things that matter to you, be frank and honest (without becoming too easily offended.) Get in touch with a deeper spiritual self that centers around celebrating life and recognizing the beauty that surrounds you.
“What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago.”