La bella vita: 4 ways to live like the Italians do!

Add joy to your life with these four easy and transformative habits

Secretly, we all wish we could be a little more Italian. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy that breezy, vivacious bella vita the way Italians do?

Seeking gioia di vivere, or joy of life, means looking for ways in which life can delight you, surprise you and excite you. It’s a mindset, an attitude and a lifestyle; an enthusiastic desire to live life to the fullest because the simple act of being alive is joyful itself.

After all, as Federico Fellini said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”

Here are four transformative habits to help you live la bella vita:

1. Go where the people go

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know how magical it can feel to people-watch in the piazzas, eat gelato with strangers on the steps of a 200-year-old building, and find unexpected delight in the nooks and crannies.

Italy’s vibrant and warm character comes from its public spaces and sense of community. Friends meet up outside and spend hours catching up in piazzas or cafe terraces. Shoppers stroll the outdoor promenades to window shop or sample fresh produce from the mercato. Football fans meander the streets in camaraderie, singing songs for the local team.

 To socialise the way the Italians do, find ways to take it outside. Go where people tend to gather.

2. Exude confidence

The indomitable Sophia Loren is arguably the most famous beauty icon of Italy. And a big part of her charm comes from her personality and her attitude, not just her looks and talent.

Sophia carries herself with confidence and grace. Whether 24 or 84, she’s always known how to make an appearance. In a 2016 interview with W magazine, at age 81, she said between laughs, “I look very well, by the way. I look fantastic.”

Give this a try: Walk with purpose. Sit with good posture. Let your presence be known. After all, acting more confidently often leads to genuine confidence, and self-confidence is one of the sexiest characteristics a woman can possess.

As Sophia herself once said, “I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn't and it really doesn't have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.”

3. Try the unexpected

When Italian daredevil Roberta Mancino flew over Panama City in a wingsuit, we thought, “Wow!”

How many times have we watched a video of someone performing an extraordinary feat and thought, “I wish I could do that”? Or saw someone step onto the metro wearing a stylish outfit and thought, “I wish I could pull that off.”

It’s easy to ask why in the world we would do something. Instead, ask “why not?” Channel your inner Roberta Mancino and go for it!

If you love watching videos of dance competitions, sign up for a dance class. If you’ve never built anything with your own two hands, challenge yourself to do just that. If you’re in awe of people performing handstands in a park, go up and ask them for tips, then try it yourself right there.

You don’t have to be a daredevil to reap the thrill of trying something new.

 4. Eat slowly and with good company

Italians are known for appreciating food and living by the philosophy that food is meant to be enjoyed. It’s a philosophy we can all live by. Good pizza and a bottle of wine shared outside with friends on the last day of summer can be more enjoyable than going to a Michelin-star restaurant.

A meal doesn’t have to be fancy to be pleasurable. Think of the famous margherita pizzas of Naples, considered to be the best in the world. The classic pizza neopoletane is made with a simple ingredient list that focuses on quality over quantity: dough, tomato, mozzerella di bufala, basil and extra virgin olive oil. Yet when Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the travel memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, takes her first bite in Naples, her life is transformed.

Try this: Take your time. There’s a reason why Italians never take their coffee in a to-go cup, carried away and gulped in a hurry. They sip at the bar counter. Eat and drink slowly. If time isn’t an issue, savour the taste. Eating is social affair in Italy and meals can last hours.

Good food with good company -- now that’s la bella vita.

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