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Gelato & Avventura: Becoming Italian


Italian culture is fascinating, and the more time I spend in Italy, the more I become a part of it. Whether factual or not, here are a few of my observations about Italian culture and how I’m squeezing my way into it.

1. Italians dress for the season, not the weather. I have lost count of how much I’ve roasted in close to 70-degree weather while every other Italian in the street was bundled up as if they heading to the ski lifts. Puffy coats, scarves, gloves, boots, all out and about under the blazing sun. All I want to do is wear shorts or tan on the piazza, but I would be completely and absolutely out of place. So there I am, bundled up in a sweater and trying to cool off by eating gelato. Any excuse to eat gelato.

2. There is no waiting in line in Italian culture. The so-called lines are instead mini mosh-pits, and it’s first come, first serve — or whoever can push his or her way to the front first. I felt really Italian when an English lady went off on me for not “waiting in queue” at the gelateria — sorry, that’s not the Italian way to do it. Even the workers behind the glass were winking at me; she needed to get with program.

3. Bella Figura, Bella. Here in Italy, it is all about the “bella figura.” It literally translates to beautiful figure, but it is so much more than that — for the Italians, it is a lifestyle. Not only does it describe the way Italians physically present themselves, but it also describes how people carry themselves and how they act. Headed to the grocery store? Do your hair. Throwing out the trash? Don’t forget the makeup. Getting water from down the street? Don’t even think about those sweatpants. In Italy, I have definitely ditched the Gainesville yoga pants look and strived for something fancier… even if it’s just to get gelato down the street. [gelato2]

4. Live the dolce vita. Italians live the dolce vita: living life in a way that will please and make them happy, no matter what the situation. If you want to wear that puffy coat in 70-degree weather, you wear that puffy coat. If you want to take your sweet, sweet time walking down the sidewalk and block everyone else, you do that. If you want to eat that gelato, you eat that gelato — and don’t hold back: go for the three flavors with whipped cream and melted chocolate. I have been learning to live life this way and appreciate the little things. I love Italians, and I love their culture so much. The dolce vita encompasses the idea of working to live, not living to work, and in Italy, life could not get any sweeter.

You can live the dolce vita anywhere – just don’t forget the gelato! 

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