Italian Slow Living

When I explain how our years here have taught us to slow down, enjoy life, and have even more time for all that we love, I find many who want to escape the stress and frazzled nerves (or the sometimes meaningless treadmill) of modern life. We want a meaningful life that counts for something, but one that we can also truly enjoy.

Yet we often get distracted and lose sight of our goals.

We’re bombarded with sights, sounds, displays, and screens of every sort. And pulled in every direction by advertising, entertainment, and offers of success, wealth, and glamour. And it’s all so enticing that we lose sight not only of our direction and plan, but of how much we already have.

Slow living has its roots in the slow food movement started by Carlo Petrini in 1989 right here in Italy to counteract the trend toward fast food with its inherent dangers. It’s a philosophy of slowing down to mindfully eat good food with good conversation as opposed to eating junk food on the run.

Slow living expands this into a lifestyle.

A lifestyle which is, in many ways, similar to the related simple, mindful, intentional, and whole living movements, as they share many characteristics and goals. But I think slow living has one extra trait that takes it over the top.

A slow life is sustainable.

Not environmentally sustainable, although it really should be that too. But because it’s realistically feasible, extremely livable, and easy to maintain long-term.

As we say here in Italy a slow life is “una vita al passo di lumaca” or “life at a snail’s pace.”

It’s an interesting saying because it’s related to another Italian saying “al passo d’uomo,” meaning “at a man’s pace.” Which refers to the speed at which a motor vehicle should proceed in certain circumstances. A car driving through a campground or parking lot, for instance.

It means slowing down to live life as it was meant to be lived.

At the slower pace God intended for us. Just as cars are not built to always speed, we are not made to sustain a hectic, frenetic lifestyle long-term.

And that’s why slow living can bring numerous benefits. Like improving our finances, time, health, relationships, and work life. And henceforth finding that they all become more sustainable and enjoyable.

Work output improves.

When we slow down enough to concentrate on the task or activity at hand, we can get more done and do a better job in less time and with less stress. This is choosing unitasking over multitasking.

Time seems to increase.

Mostly because when we don’t take on too much, it really does free up time. And because we get more done quickly, we have more time to do the things we really love.

Health benefits by eating real food and taking time to savor it.

And the slower pace helps reduce stress, improve digestion, and create more time for rest, relaxation, and keeping physically active.

Relationships are deepened.

Through spending more time with friends, family, and those we care about. By eating meals together without devices and internet, taking time for real conversation and sharing, and doing things together, we start to really connect or re-connect with others.

Financial soundness increases through not trying to have it all.

Slowing down gives us time to realize not only how much we already have, but also the clarity to see that often we don’t need more. We just need time to appreciate what we’ve already got. And this can lead to less shopping and spending!

It enhances peace of mind by cutting out unnecessary or harmful distractions like clutter, social media addiction, and too many commitments or activities.

And it increases our sense of well-being.

Because by learning to live in the present moment and enjoy it fully, we often remember to care for and nourish our entire person. For as author C.S. Lewis said, “You are not a body. You are a soul; you have a body.”

In essence, slow living is about slowing down to truly enjoy life.

And about building a more meaningful and purposeful life at the same time. And who doesn’t want that? So if you’ve been asking, “Why would I want to slow my life?”  perhaps the better question would be:

“Why would anyone want a stressful hectic life that makes us miss out on more important things?”

Images – Beach: Pixabay.com | Shelling nuts: our own image.

14 thoughts on “Italian Slow Living

  1. Thank you for this post, I’ve recently embarked on a social media cleanse (1 year) this is inspiring and more in line with how I long to live.

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  2. Is this ever a good word for those of us living in the states! I like the slower life and choose it as often as I can. The tendency here is you slow down you get run over. So it’s best to stay out of the way and go slow anyway!

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  3. This post reminds me of the words I treasure in my own life – “plain and simple” – It’s how I feel inside and why I spend some of my time trying to “declutter” – that’s a bit of a challenge when my husband is a collector of almost everything… and to be fair, at this age, we have many treasures given to us or left to us by people we love.

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    • Wow Doris, can I ever relate. I tend to feel plain and simple both on the inside and the outside, lol! I too keep things pretty decluttered as I find it just really simplifies life in general. My housekeeping has become such a breeze and that gives me so much more time for other things. Mario used to be a “just in case” saver. But he’s also seen the benefits of less, so that helps. And thankfully loved ones don’t give us “stuff.” They can’t afford to ship it to Italy!! 🙂

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  4. It can be easy in today’s society to feel guilty for slowing down and not being constantly “busy.” Isn’t that often the first thing we say when people ask how we’ve been? Loved your post, such a good reminder to slow down, enjoy life, and not feel guilty when we live slower and intentional as opposed to hectic and busy.

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    • That’s so sad to me. And it makes me ever more grateful that I live in a country that values another way of life. The fact that people in the USA usually answer with “I’ve been busy” made me reflect because that is not the first answer we hear here. We really only have a couple of friends who answer that way. Coffee breaks, afternoon siestas, slow strolls through town, and lounging on the beach are considered a good part of life and essential to overall well-being! Especially here in the south. It’s a definitely a culture of cherishing the “dolce vita.” And not feeling guilty over it!

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    • Yes Linda, to Italians it is a good thing. Our neighbors have the habit of sitting out in the shade on hot summer afternoons. All afternoon, until time to fix supper. Every day. Every single day. Even the ones who work do it during August as most people have the entire month off. I find it hard to slow down quite that much. And they often chide me about working too much. Come and join us they say. Take a break, and quite often I do. What a difference!! Yes Linda, I think you’d fit in quite well over here. And the neighbors would be glad to welcome you to the club!!

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