This is a series of essays on living in Italy. Find part one in this series here. On my recent trip to the US, I was sitting with friends in a coffee shop. Outside the rain pelted the window as cars drove by. We drank our lattes out of paper cups and reminisced about a recent trip they had made to our B&B. I mentioned that life in the states was so much easier. I was astounded at what I could accomplish in one afternoon. The same amount of errands would have had to have been split up over an entire week in Italy. Because of the opening hours. Because of terrible reordering procedures at stores, leaving the most important articles out of stock for weeks at a time. Because, well, just because.
One of my friends turned to me and said, " I know, Diana, it's easier to live here. I get that. But where you are, you live a soulful life. That's really hard here. Don't underestimate that."
Italy is soulful
I read once that souls that have come back to earth enough times eventually evolve to no longer worry about how much money is in the bank account or if there is a bit of mould on the side of a piece of cheese. And that there are more really, really old souls in Italy than anywhere else. Souls come back, lifetime after lifetime, to work in vineyards and olive groves. This, over time, has come to make perfect sense to me.
Italy helped me redefine my priorities
I can't say that I came here for purely altruistic reasons. We saw the potential of the property we bought and, being task-oriented, type A personalities, got to work realizing our goals. But it just doesn't work like that here. People tell you all the time it doesn't work like that here, but until you have experienced Italian life, it's impossible to fully comprehend. At some point, you adjust, because continuously beating your head against a muro di cemento is not going to get anyone anywhere fast, hai capito?
But the reality is, while entrepreneurship in Italy is a challenge, kindness is a no brainer. Where there is a clear lack of benchmarking and leveraging the competition and maximizing revenue, there is clearly humor and a strong sense of community. Instead of good websites there is good wine. In lieu of outstanding financials there is outstanding food.
Speaking of which...
Italy has decreased my sense of jealousy and increased my sense of vulnerability.
While I was in New York in a restaurant with a friend, the waitress gabbed it up with us a bit, and I told her I was from Italy. At the end of the night she came over and gave me a hug and a kiss! Is that a normal reaction? I don't know, but I think people associate Italy with love. And to be honest, it's really kind of like that. How can I be jealous of what others have when I live in a place that's really full of love? Italy has made me more aware of struggle, of how tough things can be, and how much goodness there really is in the fight against struggle. And how noble and precious life really is. I wear my vulnerability on my sleeve, and I have Italy in good part to thank for that.
Please let me know what you think. I especially invite my fellow expats to come and comment on what lessons Italy has brought to their lives. Have a beautiful Sunday.