This past April, I traveled to Italy for the first time.
I was so inspired by Italy’s slow lifestyle and how it made each moment and experience feel that much fuller as a result.
I didn’t think I would be so inspired by Venice, but so many things spoke to me while I was there. I admired the leisure time that many of the residents made time for in their schedules over espresso (or wine) and lively conversation. My own experience of complete freedom, not needing to be here nor there, allowed me to savor and fill my senses completely. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so completely free of obligations that can make day to day life so tedious. I was inspired by the fusion of adaptation… Beauty and utility coming together with water taxis and winding, teetering bridges. The color palette of turquoise blue water and tangled vines combined with warm pastel-colored buildings was sublime to me. The food tasted purer as if it were made with better ingredients.
Even the streets and alleyways of Venice were an experience of their own, encouraging you to get lost in them without worrying about where you were supposed to be heading next. This was the first time I could fully embrace the common phrase “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” To me, this line always struck me as repetitive and ultimately meaningless- but when you allow yourself to let go, it’s easier to believe that you are arriving at your destination precisely when you were meant to.
As we drove through Tuscany’s winding roads, we eventually arrived at our villa in Radda. Everything throughout this environment seemed pure and untouched by much of what worries and concerns me at home. I didn’t realize how much tension I had been holding every day throughout my body in reaction to what was happening around me, whether it be a work email sneaking its way through the spotty WiFi, the chatty tourists with selfie sticks, the horns honking, the broken handle of my rolling suitcase, and more…
It was liberating to breathe deeply, taking in the rolling hills and the rows of olive trees highlighted by the setting sun. I was convinced that this place was set apart from the rest of the world. It felt nearly indulgent to be soaking in the quiet for as long as I did, but it was important to me to note and retain every detail. Besides the distant singing birds and the occasional scooter zipping by, the quiet was so peaceful.
I will remember this villa forever, with its burnt orange tiles and rose bushes that have yet to bloom, just a short walk away from the tiniest town with a lovely church, a deli, and a Michelin starred restaurant. I remember pacing the streets and thinking to myself, how can these people live with so little? While the town was quiet, each time I passed a resident, I wondered about what kind of life they led. From the butcher watching soccer from a tiny TV behind the counter in his shop, to the gentleman seated at a corner bench and singing for no reason at all (I wonder if he realized how he made the ambiance for us as we explored?), to the trio of old women wearing brightly patterned head scarves, gossiping as they walked down the street.
I wondered about everyone.
How is it possible for them to where they need to go with a realistic timeline? With certain thoughts and expectations of my own, I tried to make connections between my life and those that lived in this little town of Radda.
Where is this? Where is that? What do people do here?
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that there must be ways of living with less where life can be just as full; perhaps the lack of schedules, obligations, and excess can expand on that fullness that much more.