This is what makes Italy great
A culture of tranquility
Italian culture seems to be designed for relaxing. Not all the time, they work hard and get things done of course, but at the end of the day, or a long lunch, or a day off, tranquility prevails; slowly sipping coffee or wine, hours long meals, and actual talking to each other.
It’s no surprise that there are a lot of coffee shops and they all appear to have customers. But no one is gulping 24 oz to-go paper cups, there are’t drive-thru coffee stands, or even many to-go coffee stands. Rather, Italians are sitting with friends ENJOYING 4 oz cappuccino, in porcelain cups, on a saucer, with a placemat, and folded cloth napkin, for 20 minutes.
Kim and I had a late glass of wine the other night at an open air cafe on the water. After a while, the waitress came by and asked us to pay because they were closing soon and they needed to get everything closed up. We paid but then she told us to stay and when we were finished put our glasses by the bar when we left, then she and the owner went home.
It’s not like these cafes are making a fortune either. We pay between €2.00 and €3.00 per coffee and €4.00 for wine. But you can sit for as long as you like for that €2.00 cappuccino. Rushing you out to get the next customer in, to make the greatest profit possible, in the shortest amount of time is not the goal here. Enjoying life is the goal here.
Most shops close for one or two hours during the afternoon. I’m not sure if it’s for lunch or a nap, but it does nicely divide up the day and give everyone a break. Life gets better when it’s not all about work all day. In a lot of countries I tell people how many Americans have lunch at their desk because they are so ‘busy’. People in those countries wonder how we are still alive, what’s the point of life if you are under endless pressure with no breaks. And vacation time . . . I won’t even get into that here.
When a quality experience is more important than profit
Four of us ordered wine one day. We got the wine, and we also were served two plates of horderves. Upselling, right? We didn’t order it, but now we have to pay for it. Nope, it’s just understood that if you are taking the time to enjoy a drink you should enjoy some good food too. So, you get complimentary orduvers. And when I say orduvers I don’t mean cheap, frozen, deep fried, breaded zucchini in ranch dressing. I mean real food; bruschetta, fresh baked bread, olives, and amazing cheeses.
It’s not all about selfless generosity, the longer you stay the more likely you are to order a second or third drink and munching on these fine foods definitely keeps you there. But even the way in which Italian establishments rope you into spending more money is relaxing and friendly.
The idea of tranquility and quality is perpetuated by steel tableware, real china, horderves per gratis, and no rush to get you out and and the next customer in. This is what makes Italy great. The more I travel the more I realize that what makes life worth living are the slow parts. It’s no surprise that Italy has the second highest life expectancy in the world. Italians like living, and taking long, daily periods of tranquility, is the way to live long.