Ten Italian habits that add to the quality of life

Fresh produce, local market: two of the secrets of Italian well-being. Picture: The Local.

One of the many frustrating aspects of the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic has been the way in which many of the daily habits and routines that add the sum total of human health and happiness have been put on hold,

I was reminded of this reading an article by Patrick Browne in The Local, our Italian English-language newspaper. Patrick listed 10 Italian habits that lead to benessere, well-being, and I thought I’d share a couple of them each day or so in the coming week. Some we can still enjoy, despite the curtailment of our daily lives; others will have to wait a month or so before, hopefully, we are back to some semblance of normal.

So let’s begin at the market and with food shopping. Habit #1, says Patrick, is Go to the market more. He says: “Most small towns in Italy have a market at least once or twice a week, while in the larger cities you can find a market on almost any day of the week. But why make a trip to the market part of your weekly routine?

Red chili peppers on a stall at the Campo di Fiori food market in central Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro / AFP.

“Apart from the fact that most markets offer everything you could wish for, they also get you outdoors and plunge you into natural light. The world feels like a better place when you’re not under the fluorescent glow of a supermarket bulb.

“The market can save you money too – you can buy the exact quantity of whatever item you need and even haggle over the price if you feel like it.”

A natural follow-on is Habit # 2: Eat local, eat fresh.

Fresh celery and squash (as much as you like) on sale in the Sant’Ambrogio market in Florence. Picture: Bill Breckon

“This is kind of an obvious one when you do your shopping at the market. For sure, Italy is great when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables as it offers fantastic produce all year round and lets you keep your diet interesting by eating seasonally.”

Robert adds: “The country has also managed to turn many a tomato-hater into a tomato-lover. Who can resist all that flavour?

“A diet based on fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables is normal in Italy and being a “locavore” isn’t trendy or hip, it’s just the norm.”

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.
Tomatoes fresh from the Watermill garden. Picture: Bill Breckon

Happily for us to market in Fivizzano, the walled mediaeval town near the Watermill, continues on Tuesdays and in Florence near our apartment we have the wonderful Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, still thriving in these exacting times.

A picture of the St Ambrogio market taken before the compulsory wearing of masks and social distancing.

Tomorrow we will feature two more of Robert’s tips on La Bella Vita Italiana with the sincere hope that it won’t be long before you be able to join us and enjoy La Bella Vita Italiana on one of our renowned creative courses at the Watermill. Find out what’s on offer by clicking here.

Just click here to find out all about the Watermill’s activities.

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