There is a moment in the film Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Roberts is introduced to the Italian secret of life. She is, for some reason, in a barbershop when one customer declares that only Italians really know how to live. Only Italians, his companions agree, understand how to savor the simple pleasures, how to grasp delight from every moment. Everyone else is too busy running on the hamster wheel of life.
For Elizabeth Gilbert, Roberts’s character and a New England puritan at heart, this rings a great, clanging bell. Italians don’t have to earn life’s pleasures – they deserve them. Their own approach to life is, they explain, best illustrated by that uniquely Italian concept of dolce far niente – the joy or sweetness of doing absolutely nothing.
And, of course, it’s true – in Italy you see those effortless, chic pleasures in abundance. Surely, this must be the easiest place to be at the moment. 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 each moment as it comes. So why not try holidaying like an Italian?
When you’re next in Italy, then, forget that compulsion to see all the sights, cover the ground, visit every museum and gallery. Instead, gaze at the unfurling countryside from a train window, watch the waves lap at your toes, eat every mouthful with gusto, stroll in a piazza for the evening passeggiata with your favorite gelato, or jump on a Lambretta and ride through the glorious countryside , with the wind in your hair. It’s time to practice a little dolce far niente.
Here are the best places to get started.
The Amalfi Coast
Arguably the loveliest coastline in Europe, the Amalfi coast’s soaring cliffs drop into a dark blue sea – it’s a place to take your time and immerse yourself in sheer beauty. The prettiest villages painted in ice cream colors are strung like gems along your way.