“I spent two weeks in Italy and here’s what I discovered about La Dolce Vita”

It was life-changing

Standing in Sydney Airport surrounded by the frenetic waves of tourists, it’s impossible to imagine what la dolce vita means. Travelling, no matter how many lists I write, and how many times I check them is an experience in nearly constant low-level anxiety. In fact so much of modern life involves dashing and rushing, days rippled with stress and worry. The idea of simply enjoying every day seems totally, unquestionably foreign.

Fast forward a fortnight, and as I lounge with a coffee in hand in a one of Rome’s sun-dappled squares, it’s hard to imagine ever worrying about the small things again. That’s because after a number of days in Italy and in Rome, thanks to a Trafalgar tour,  I have inexorably learnt how to live la dolce vita, or the sweet life.

I’ve learnt how to stop and enjoy a moment, a drink, a mouthful or a view with a zen-like level of absorption. It’s only by spending time wandering through the streets and piazzas of this famous city, soaking up the sights and sounds and smells of this buzzing metropolis, that the secrets of la dolce vita begin to slowly reveal themselves.

Linger over coffee

Morning, noon or night, coffee, especially tiny cups of thick dark espresso, are a must. But rather grabbing a takeaway and rushing on with their day, Romans take a moment to enjoy their coffee, to inhale the aroma and to really taste their coffee

coffee italy
Linger over an affogato (Credit: Supplied) (Credit: Marie Hennechart)

Chat! Talk! Gossip!

Rome is a city bubbling and fizzing with constant, passionate conversation. Waiters, old friends, people in restaurants, Romans love to talk. It is this friendly approach, a genuine keenness to learn about each other that creates the soundtrack to this ancient place. So, do as the Romans do and chat to everyone from taxi drivers to your boyfriend, with a genuine interest in what they have to say.

italian dolce vita
Chat! Talk! Laugh! (Credit: Getty) (Credit: Marie Hennechart)

Stop for an afternoon affogato

Every afternoon you will see many Romans taking a break from their day to enjoy this treat of vanilla gelato and hot espresso. La dolce vita means finding pleasure wherever, and whenever, possible, and stopping whatever you are doing, even for a moment to indulge in this delicious sweet snack infused with a jolt of espresso.

Shopping for dinner means a wander around the markets

A quick sprint to the supermarket? No way! Dinner for Italians, means whatever is best at the markets. It means meandering around the stalls to decide what is the freshest, the lushest, and the most beautiful. The ingredients dictate the dish.

gelato italy
(Credit: Getty)

Aperitivo hour

Whether it be a glass of rich red Campari and soda or a flute of bubbling prosecco, sun down means stopping to enjoy an aperitivo, or drink before dinner. It’s a moment in the day to be relished and enjoyed, a chance to catch up with loved ones, and to take a breath. Living la dolce vita unquestionably means embracing this particular tradition, and I plan on giving it a good hot go.

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