The Art Of Italian Living: 21 Romans On How To Find Beauty In Everyday Life


When meeting an Italian, young or old, their eyes and facial expressions invite you to enter into their being. Every wrinkle, pore, feature, and complexion reveals their life story before a word is even exchanged. But before you know it, you have just heard it from start to finish through tears, laughter, gestures, and moments of pause and reflection. It could take anywhere from ten minutes while at the market, an hour on the train, an afternoon sipping a cappuccino in the piazza, or around the table during an all-day Sunday lunch.

This is a culture of people who pride themselves on their country’s traditions and history along with their cleverness to confront each day as it comes. If there’s one thing I’ve observed of the Italian people, they know how to endure, cope, and still find a way to smile through economic and social crisis. However, they appear to search for ways to enrich the lives of their family members, loved ones, and themselves through the simple beauty of “la vita quotidiana” (everyday life). There seems to be an overall acceptance of the nation’s reality but there’s also an acceptance to create a life that’s truly worth living to the fullest.

Twenty Italians were asked, “Even through times of hardship, what is the Italian secret of living ‘La Dolce Vita’ (the sweet life)?” From age 15 through 77, the secrets are revealed.


1.) Practice the art of “making do” with what you have. – Gloria, 15

2.) During times of difficulty, we find a way to nourish ourselves by eating fresh food at home; even simple pasta with fresh tomato sauce. – Davide, 18

3.) Strong solidarity and profound beliefs in love, family, and friendship. – Lucia, 21

4.) The majority of us Italians find comfort and affection by anchoring ourselves to family and loved ones. – Anna Sofia, 25

5.) “Carpe diem” (seize the day). Treasure the little joys of eating chocolate, drinking coffee, or having dinner with friends and significant other. – Carmen, 25

6.) Share yourself with the people who you love the most with appreciation. Without them, it would be impossible to live. – Antonio, 26

7.) Having a great support system helps confront each day as it comes. – Giulia, 27

8.) Italians live with a lot of “menefreghismo” (a carefree attitude). The classic phrase to describe this is “ma chi se ne frega” which directly translates to “who cares?” – Paolo, 33

9.) During times of crisis, problems can be solved one step at a time with optimism. –Claudia, 36

10.) Enjoy spending time with friends and the person you love the most. Live with passion and romanticism. Self-expression of the heart gives us courage. – Emiliano, 39

11.) Happiness doesn’t derive from economic wealth. There’s more value in loving yourself and your family, eating a pizza with friends, enjoying Sunday lunch at your parents’ home, and taking a walk in the city square while drinking an impromtu coffee. – Gianni, 40

12.) Make realistic goals in order to achieve them with optimism. A key trait of Italians is that we’re romantic dreamers. Dream and dream some more. – Rachele, 41

13.) An optimistic attitude is needed to approach everyday life. To think negatively or spend time with others who do, will only drag you down. – Cristina, 43

14.) Be assertive and not always submissive. Clearly define your ideas based upon what it is that you feel. – Annamaria, 43

15.) Happiness is the weapon to defeat sadness. By finding a passion, such as dance, it helps one confront difficulties. When I dance, I feel liberated. – Sabrina, 43

16.) Adapt to any situation by living in the moment, yet not putting too much pressure on what will be in the future. – Monica, 45

17.) Eliminate useless spending and embrace simplicity such as eating at home and buying only what it is that you need and appreciate what you already have. – Cristina, 46

18.) A positive attitude allows for solutions to any problem. The only thing we can’t remedy is death. Concentrate on work or your loved ones in its current moment and learn to compartmentalize from one activity to the next. – Gabriele, 49

19.) Other than the richness of the art and history within our culture, it’s the older generations that impart wisdom to the younger ones on how to live a balanced life. The desire to enjoy ourselves is in our blood, but in moderation. – Maurizio, 50

20.) Sacrifices are needed to make your loved ones happy. When you find the balance of giving and receiving love, this allows for self-realization and fulfillment. – Rocco, 66

21.) The secret to “la dolce vita” (the sweet life) is living for today, not tomorrow. – Ezio, 76