There is a moment in the film Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts discovers the secret of Italian life. She is, for some reason, in a hair salon when a customer declares that only Italians really know how to live. Only the Italians, agree his companions, know how to savor simple pleasures, seize the delight of each moment. Everyone is too busy running on the hamster wheel of life.
For Elizabeth Gilbert, Roberts’ character and a New England Puritan at heart, that sounds very strong. Italians don’t have to earn the pleasures of life – they deserve them. Their own approach to life is, they explain, best exemplified by this quintessentially Italian concept of dolce far niente – the joy or sweetness of doing absolutely nothing.
And, of course, it’s true – in Italy, you see these effortlessly chic pleasures in abundance. Surely this must be the easiest place to be right now. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, food, music (let’s face it, even the language sounds like music), it’s easier to take your time here, forget the pressure and savor every moment like he comes. So why not try to holiday like an Italian?
On your next visit to Italy, forget about this constraint of seeing all the sights, covering the ground, visiting all the museums and galleries. Instead, watch the countryside unfold from a train window, watch the waves lap over your toes, eat every bite with an appetite, stroll to a plaza for evening passeggiata with your favorite gelato, or skip on a Lambretta and ride through the beautiful countryside, with the wind in your hair. It’s time to practice a little dolce far niente.
Here are the best places to start.
The Amalfi Coast
Arguably the most beautiful coastline in Europe, the soaring cliffs of the Amalfi Coast plunge into a dark blue sea – it’s a place to take your time and immerse yourself in pure beauty. The most beautiful villages painted in the colors of ice cream are linked like jewels on your way.