La dolce vita, or the sweet life, an Italian phrase we all yearn to embody ~ a life full of beauty and pleasures. It’s no secret that the people of Italy often live to a century without indulging in halves. So what are the guidelines and how can we incorporate it into our day-to-day? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not by cutting back, but rather adding plenty of richness to your life as a whole. And we’re in, grazie!
5 WAYS TO LA DOLCE VITA
1. Dolce far niente
Stress in 2023 seems unavoidable and nowadays we know the negative impacts of raised cortisol on our physical, hormonal, mental and emotional health can affect both the quality and length of our lives. One of the ways Italians like to beat stress is to indulge in the joys of Dolce far niente or “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Think of this as a little piece of magic Italian mindfulness.
So what exactly do you do, when you do nothing? Contradictive, no? Perhaps think of it like this ~ how can you do less? Instead of overfilling your days, reduce plans and go with the flow, turn off your phone, and even if only for a few seconds, stop and appreciate the things both around you and within you.
The pace of Tuscan countryside life is leisurely and unbusy; and by no means frantic. Free time should always be appreciated and savoured, whether it’s a mid-week evening bath or an exciting getaway. Italians are experts in not overcommitting and staying present in the moment ~ a gentle bit of mindfulness keeping free time, well, free.
Doing nothing helps to regulate the nervous system and relieve any pressures that gradually weigh on our shoulders of everyday life, so it doesn’t build up and become overwhelming. In the same vein, any tiny moments of space we can give ourselves build up in a positive way, allowing us to be able to face and tackle life’s curveballs.
2. Moving in nature
Italians don’t spend much time inside the gym. Instead, they live very active lifestyles in nature ~ which we at Body Holiday are strong proponents for.
Italians are privy to walking in both cities and coastal towns with dwellings perched upon and below seaside cliffs impossible for vehicles to reach – you know those infamous Positano steps you have to trawl after a long day on the beach? Walking is the favourite physical pastime of Italians who, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes for pleasure, spend a good part of their day outdoors. They even have the term passeggiata, which refers to a (leisurely) stroll, often in the evening and with the purpose to socialise. Perhaps it comes from the need to digest their pasta? Which walking is also good for!
We love that in Italy, movement is a lifestyle not a chore, and something that is enjoyed and savoured, like many of the other things that make up the sweet life.
Italians have very few rules and even then, most of them can be broken. However, you don’t want to mess with customs around food. Rule numero uno? They like to linger at the tavlola (table), to share a meal with family and friends. Because in Italy, a meal is a cultural expression; and a symbol of love and connection.
Studies have shown that those who spend more time cultivating social relationships have a significant drop in cortisol levels during the day, which could explain why positive relationships help us learn better, stay healthier, and live longer. Just like the italian saying, Chi Trova un Amico, Trova un Tesoro or “He Who Finds a Friend, Finds a Treasure”.
Hot tip: Try getting a friend around to do your Tuscany retreat workouts with, followed by cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Did we mention one of our recipes revolves around wine? We definitely agree with Italians ~ most things in life are better shared.
4. Wine (in moderation)
For most of us, the association of wine to Italy is a strong one. Italians are famous for enjoying their wine daily, from lunch to dinner and sometimes, well into the early hours. Italians love beautiful and delicious things, and place a great importance on connection as we’ve already touched on – so it’s no doubt they love wine.
Along with the emotional benefits, wine can help us to grow in other ways. Understanding wine and the best ways in which to drink it can become both a skill and an art. Us humans boast over seven thousand-year-old fascination with the sweet juice and studying it can expand our historical and cultural awareness.
And yes, there are physical benefits, however most likely only in quantities under one and a half glasses. Your best bet for the benefits is to try sticking to local, natural, dry red wine as it is the most rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent cardiovascular diseases in small amounts.
5. Food for health + happiness
So yes, Italians do carbs well. But their diet doesn’t just include god’s gifts of pizza and pasta. Fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish are also common staples. And combining the two leaves their bodies and hearts happy and healthy ~ the perfect ingredients for a long life. How, you say?
Well, the typical Mediterranean diet foods — aforementioned fish, plant oils, fruits and vegetables, nuts — help lower inflammation in the body, improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. All of these benefits are great for our physical and mental wellbeing.
And on the other hand, carbs make us happier. They’re grounding foods and they have an effect that boosts our brain’s release of serotonin — the chemical that helps us feel calm and satisfied.
Pssst ~ Our Tuscany recipes have you covered on both fronts 🙂
In addition, opting for local, fresh, organic food made at home will ensure you’re ingesting little additives and a while lot of love. Try shopping at local farmers markets and if you have the space (and the patience), you could even grow your own herbs, seasonal fruits and vegetables in your backyard or within your community.
We hope these tips help you create your own little Dolce Vita. If you haven’t already, immerse yourself in a well-rounded Tuscan lifestyle with our Tuscany retreat.