Touchy-feely and proud: learning more from the Italians about healthy living.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Missing our hugs!

Continuing our series on 10 Italian lifestyle habits that add to the quality of daily living, we are looking today at two more suggestions from Patrick Browne in The Local, our Italian English-language newspaper. They are rather disparate topics, the first of which is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in .)these restricted times: Habit #7: Be more tactile. The second is delightful (See below.)

Patrick writes: “Italians are very touch-feely and at first it can be a bit strange, but it’s a really positive aspect of how Italians socialize. If it’s your birthday expect a hug and a kiss from everyone around and don’t offend by getting embarrassed about it.

“When you’re with Italian friends expect them to put their hands on your shoulder, ruffle your hair and stroke you – just don’t forget to reciprocate!”

Quite right too, but in these days of masks and social distancing, a good Italian bracio e abbraccio (a kiss and a hug) is just a fond memory. We will know that we are back to normal we start hugging each other again.

Picture: Signore si divernta

As Patrick says: “Science suggests that being a bit more touchy-feely could make you happier, as physical contact with other humans produces oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that is central to intimacy and bonding.”

Habit #8 is to Develop a sense of local pride. The Italians call it campanilismo, a sense of identity, a loyalty to where you grew up, within the sight and sound of your own campanile (belltower).

A painting by Charles Sluga of the belltower in the nearby walled mediaeval town of Fivizzano.

Patrick writes: “Back in the UK, at least, local pride is almost looked down upon – and many people from small towns are embarrassed about where they have their roots. Very often people just lie and tell you that they are from their nearest large city. But many Italians from small towns will tell you exactly why their hometown is the most beautiful place in the world and why you should visit.

“They will passionately talk about the great local restaurant or spot where everybody goes. Why not take their advice?”

That is certainly true about Fivizzano, the beautiful, walled mediaeval town near the Watermill, and about Florence, where we live in the winter. The sense of local pride is palpable and is just one more thing that adds to the enjoyment of living in Italy.

The Watermill at Posara for painting, creative writing, knitting, and Italian language holidays/vacations/workshops, Tuscany, Italy.
Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome for Florence cathedral: who wouldn’t be proud to live here?


  1. Bernadette Harvey says

    Thanks for the picture of my favourite Italian City, I have been visiting Italy for 60 years, having first come in 1960 on my honeymoon. Last year was our 60th wedding anniversary, so where else to go but to Sestri Levanti where we spent our honeymoon. Happy Days. I trust that you are all keeping safe. Best wishes to all at the Mill.

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