Italy has long had a widespread reputation across the rest of the world for being a country filled with romance, good food and, above all, passion for the finer things in life. The Italian language as well as Italian art, literature and cooking are all hailed as the most beautiful and most accomplished within their separate disciplines.
Modern Italy honours its rich and vibrant history today, offering visitors a tempting palate of fresh flavours, breathtaking artworks and fascinating stories to explore. A trip to Italy means to delve deeper into all the things that this dynamic country has spent hundreds of years perfecting.
It’s no secret that within Italy dwell some of the longest-lived people on the planet. But what’s their secret? Some people credit the Mediterranean diet, dominated by fresh local vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains and fish. There is also the prodigious use of their famous olive oil which, due to its high levels of monounsaturated fats, could reduce inflammation in the body and even fight cancer.
Good food coupled with a relaxed pace to life and spending time in the beautiful countryside sounds like most people’s idea of bliss. But to the Italians it is la dolce vita, which is the only way to live. Focusing on a healthy diet, gentle but regular exercise and an appreciation of your surroundings has been proven to extend life expectancy. The other important aspect is something else that Italians are famous for: family.
Making family and community a central part of your existence is seen to help people live longer and happier lives. Other countries identified in the Blue Zones Project as having a high concentration of centenarians also consider family to be of the utmost importance. Along with this is a focus on positive social connections and engagement. So, eat well, look after your family and get out and about in nature often in order to live longer.
Following on from this is the Italian focus on living the good life, or la dolce vita. In a society where family and friends mean everything, you need to be quick to laugh things off in order to keep the peace. If you’ve ever spent a weekend away with your close family, then you’ll know what I mean!
Enjoying life can mean indulging in your favourite activities and living life to the full. Personally, when I have some free time I like to blast out a Tidal playlist, spin some at PokerStarsCasino and plan my next adventure with Airbnb. Whatever your inclination, it’s good to treat yourself every so often and in moderation. Italians firmly believe in this (though sometimes without the moderation part!) and make sure to fill their lives with celebration, enjoyment and a party atmosphere.
Sunday lunch, for example, is a big deal. The whole family comes together, usually at the house of the eldest relatives, to sit down to a multi-course homecooked meal. Wine flows freely, as does conversation and laughter. This is an important end to the week which cements the family’s place as one of the utmost importance and leaves everybody feeling well-fed and satisfied, ready for the week ahead.
Perhaps one of Italy’s most enduring reputations is that it is the land of love and romance. There’s a reason why Shakespeare set his famous romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet amongst the pretty streets of Verona, and why Rome consistently tops the list of best places to propose. The classic Italian passion for life bleeds into the very fabric of the country, imbuing visitors with a greater sense of romance and sensibility. This is the land of the greatest love stories the world has ever seen, like E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Not only do people propose in Italy, but they also flock to its shores for honeymoons and charming holidays just for two. Stunning locations like Tuscany, Lake Como and Sicily are popular wedding destinations due to their abundant sunshine and breathtaking scenery. It’s a country where visitors may find that love comes a little easier than at home, fed by delicious food, sumptuous wine and balmy weather.
Not only do people travel to Italy for love, but the Italians are good at sustaining romantic relationships amongst themselves. There is a relatively low divorce rate across the country, sometimes attributed to the strong sense of family in Italian society and to the prevalent religion of Catholicism. Whatever the reason, Italians have one of the longest average marriage rates at 18 years, miles ahead of second place Canada which manages an average of just 13.8 years. Perhaps a happy marriage is yet another reason why Italians tend to be so long lived!