“Dolce far niente”
After ‘Sight Seeing Saturday’, followed by a few too many prosecco’s back with our favourite Ro-man the night before – we decided to live and breathe my new favourite Italian phrase meaning the sweetness of doing nothing. What better way to spend a summer Sunday in Italy?
We had no plan, no itinerary, no schedule – our only objective was to enjoy our day, soak up Italian life and relax.
The first box to tick on our sweetness of nothing wish list was fresh fruit for breakfast and a proper coffee I so desperately miss in my London life. Within a few minutes of arriving at the central markets of Campo de Fiori, both wishes were granted – tick! We rome-d (see what I did there) around the various fresh fruit, vege and pasta stalls in the sunshine with a coffee and some fruit listening to local buskers making magic with their music – quintessential Italian Sunday life is pretty idyllic to say the least! We found ourselves venturing down some cute cobble stoned alleyways doused in cute boutiques, which somehow resulted in playing dress ups with Italian shoes and clothes. The only schedule we stuck to was for our
daily three hourly treat of coconut gelato. Is there anything Italians do badly, we wondered?
Without really planning it we ended up at the Spanish Steps – a perfect photo opportunity before retiring our weary feet down yet another stunning cobble stoned alley way ready to indulge in more delicious local delicacies. I had my gluten friendly favourite; parma ham and buffalo mozzarella cheese. It doesn’t sound an overly substantial lunch I know, but the size of the ball of cheese I was facing was similar to a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Uh oh. Even as I claimed out loud that there was no way I could finish that, I knew it was a total lie and decided to not even consider feeling guilty about eating every last bite. Our lovely waiters then arrived at our table with “gifts for bella” and we found ourselves with vodka, prosecco and limoncello gelato shots. They may have been a bit on the strong side for a lunchtime dessert, but my god they were refreshing in the 43 degree heat!
‘When in Rome’ was becoming a far too common excuse for taking in more of my fair share of Italian calories, but I figured if I channelled my inner tourist yesterday with 20km of walking then I was more than allowed to channel my inner foodie today. I did start to become genuinely quite shocked at the amount of
gelato food I seemed to be able to eat – a new jean size looked to be an unwelcome yet highly likely souvenir I would be taking home with me!
From here we crossed the river towards the trendy neighbourhood of Trastevere. This district is home the oldest church in Rome but is also full of bars, cafes and trattorias. Although it is a much-loved spot by fellow tourists, locals love it too – which gives it an electric yet relaxed, charismatic vibe. Lonely Planet suggested a visit to the square early evening for a drink to be followed by a relaxed dinner while listening to some local music – so that’s precisely what we did. If I ever doubted Lonely Planets guides, I never will again – this is exactly what happened. And it was heaven.
We took a seat in the courtyard of a cute bar in the main square and ordered a prosecco and some olives. We sat back, basked (slash sweltered) in the sun, relaxed and listened to gorgeous music – we were even treated to a somewhat terrible magic show! Our almost perfect day so far was quickly upgraded to absolutely perfect thanks to the constant flow of (complimentary) traditional Italian aperitif’s and tapa’s. Not sure what made the bartenders think the two blonde kiwi tourists needed a couple (or eight) aperol spritz’s and a seemingly unlimited supply of olives…but we were not complaining! We sat in this spot for over 5 hours and not once did we feel guilty about it or worry that we were wasting our time. We were blissfully content in the sweetness of doing nothing. Grazie Trastevere – you reminded us what down to earth living was like and how good it was for the soul. Did we really have to go back to the stress and strain of London? Sad face.
While in sitting in Trastevere encompassing the ‘doing nothing’ mantra I couldn’t help but think about one of my favourite movies; Eat, Pray, Love and a penny dropped on a particular scene from it;
Luca Spaghetti: “Americans. You work too hard, you get burned out. You come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the T.V.”
Liz: “That’s not far off, actually.”
Luca Spaghetti: “But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says: ‘It’s Miller Time!’ And you say, That’s right, now I’m going to buy a six pack. And then drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. He walks by a sign that says: You deserve a break today. And he says, Yes, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon to go over to your house and sleep…with your wife!”
Too true – we (substitute Americans for general western world city slickers) do it wrong. I haven’t been allowing myself much of a break recently or taking the pleasure in doing nothing – this trip reminded me to stop, breathe and remember why I’m on this side of the world. In Italy, even in the busy, populated capital city, the vibe is just so different to London. It’s relaxed, it’s happy, it’s down to earth … you hear laughter, you see smiles and you feel happiness. They seem to be good at everything they do; food, clothes, shoes, coffee – even sport – yet they still manage to completely embody this new favourite Italian phrase of mine. They do life right.
Our second day in the eternal city refreshed us, reset us and made us rethink a few morals and values. It even inspired us to start planning on living and breathing the same mantra one day soon…
Watch this space Italia!