Deciding to move to Italy for a year was not an easy choice since well, I have to admit that I haven’t been steady for the past six years. Been travelling and exploring for quite a while, so after having a study experience in Poland for half a year – I must say I started to see that understanding the language of the place where you are about to spend a couple of months is a definite must. Let alone the fact that Polish is not the easiest language to learn hehe. That is why, when having to decide among countries such as Sweden, England, Spain or Slovakia – I decided for Italy instead. The reasons are many, so besides the language (and the notorious Italian sign language deserves a completely separate section of course), there are some I had and some I discovered on the way (and some reinforced). Here are just a few of them…
Coffee – Coffeeshops – Coffee Culture
One of the habits I stand by the most, even when I travel, is actually a good coffee. I transformed this habit in a routine that I celebrate each day – so I kind of repeat that old Italian movie scene where I open the windows (without the Pavarotti song on the background though), get the sea breeze deep into my lungs and sunshine on my face, do my workout and then I jump directly in the kitchen and make the most amazing coffee at the moka machine. The taste is special since here I have discovered so many other types of coffee I never heard of – and the fact is – wherever you go, in the most forgotten village, I assure you that you will be treated with a decent coffee! Enjoying a good coffee in a rustic, cosy coffee shop is something I will never say no to, and here the amount of bars and cafeterias is simply astonishing.
Best Oranges Ever
Since we are talking about pleasant moments in life, I should start by reminding you that Italy is the second biggest exporter of citrus fruits in Europe (after Spain) and this is not out of chance. The Sicilian oranges are my all time favourite, with their shades of red or dark orange (suggestively called ‘arcobaleno’ which means rainbow). I have to add that generally, Italians definitely hold their breakfast sacred and I have met very very few of them that do not like coffee (and mostly they were out of Italy – coincidence you’d say :P) – a moment when one would feel weirded out – What? An Italian not to like coffee? What kind of an Italian is that? (: Therefore, the orange juice is a definite add on, along with the classic cornetto/ or croissant and one coffee out of the rich variety there is on offer.
Olive oil and wine – elixirs for a longer life
When talking about the Mediterranean cultures, we should add the olive oil and clearly the wine. A couple of years ago I have watched this documentary that was detailing on the places with the highest life expectancy – and Italy, specifically Sardegna – was one of them. Even if yes, you would say that genes are to blame, there are studies that show that good sleep, peaceful life, constant workout and balanced intake of food does help a lot. Add on harmonious relationships and close-knit community, the classic glass of wine and sprinkle some olive oil on that mix and you’ve got a portrait of a typical life in rural Sardegna.
Napoli's got the character
Napoli – the city of music and jolliness, of pizza and coffee, is, in my opinion, Italy in a nutshell. Here, it is almost like a trend to see women having long talks with their fellow neighbours from their balconies while sipping their coffees. While you will have difficulties in getting the Napolitan accent, I assure you these people will know how to make themselves understood! Indulge yourself in a spritz (/aperitivo time, another Italian must do part of the day), smile a lot and with the Italian music on the background, you will get in the mood. You would be wondered by how many jaw-dropping voices you could discover just while sitting at a bar (literally done a marathon of Shazam once) – and see that there is much more to Italian music than Laura Pausini, Pavarotti or the popular Eros Ramazzotti.
The Italian lifestyle
If by now you are still wondering why I chose this to be my home for a year, well, I have one more thing to add – Italians have a particular relation with punctuality, time and stress management. Of course, we should never generalize, there are exceptions and exceptions. Hence, this ‘dolce far niente’ attitude literally means – ‘sweet idleness’. I came to find that I would much rather identify with people that are very outgoing, sociable and balance their work and leisure time. That is why you see gatherings of youngsters in the piazzas singing, the streets are roaming, the restaurants are full of people of all ages and the music is on all the weekend. While the weather always helps, Italian people are undoubtedly some of the most pleasant and easy-going people to have a glass with, their hospitality and good food always assets to their rich culture and millennial history.