Italy knows what life is about. There is a science to the eat and sleep balance. It involves daily naps and leisurely meals. It involves spending time friends, laughing over morning espresso and chatting over nights of pasta.
Eating and sleeping.
That’s what makes life enjoyable.
I learned that in Italy.
My word! There is so much food in Italy. Every time you turn your head there is a restaurant, there is a food truck, there is a gelateria, etc. etc. etc. There is food. And near the food, you see people, sitting and relaxing.
As an American it is confusing.
What do you mean you are to sitting to eat the hamburger? Wrap it up and take it with you?
Why are we standing in an alley eating a slice of pizza? Swallow that thing and let’s go.
Italians expect you to linger over your food. You are expecting to sit down and enjoy your meal. Bite, sip, chat and repeat. There is an art to it that is not easy to master. My trip mate and I went out to dinner in our second week. We thought we had the Italian dinner thing down. We sat down, ready to sit and people watch, enjoy our meal and close the place down.
We finished our plates in half an hour.
The owner strolled by us laughing and chatting, backed up and said, very gently, “Slow down. Enjoy.”
He was right.
We were still eating like Americans. Getting it in and not enjoying every wonderful bite.
There is a joy in savoring your food. In lingering over the tastes and flavor, enjoying the feel of it in your mouth. And there is a joy in sitting and talking, really talking, to your meal companions.
This is not a behavior that is encouraged in America. Waiters rush you through your food, throwing down the check while you are still chewing and expect you to vacate the table. Now. Not in five minutes. Now.
Fun fact: In Italy, the waiter does not bring the check until you ask for it. Period. You have to flag them down and ask for the check.
It’s revolutionary. Once you learn to sit and relax every bite is more enjoyable.
Please, make it a goal to have a four-hour dinner. It is fantastic. At the end, you feel satisfied, not just gastronomically but emotionally. You will not regret slowing down with your friends and family and enjoying time together.