What Americans Can Learn From How Italian Families Live Life

Italians Taught Me The Importance Of Family, That Food Is Art, And How To Live With Passion

They live the beautiful life, complete with delicious food, amazing wine, loving friends and family and a laid-back lifestyle.


I'm one of the people fortunate enough to visit Italy every few years or so. We have family there that we visit and I always learned something new each time I went. Here are a few of the more important lessons that I learned from Italians.

1. Vai piano (Take it easy)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

Italy is always so relaxed. In my hometown and New York, everyone's in a rush and impatient, even me. We speed past people who we think are walking too slow and get impatient when someone or something isn't on time. But if you go to a small town in Italy, everyone and everything runs on a slower clock. People take leisurely walks all the time, punctuated with scalding cups of espresso, impossibly delicious cups of gelato and somehow manage to run into friends and family that lead to more adventures. Being in Italy always slows me down. I take long, slow strides and really take in my surroundings instead of just whisking past people to get where I want to be.

2. Vivi la vita bella (Live the beautiful life)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

There's an expression that's always used, "la vita bella." The literal translation is "the beautiful life," but people use it to mean "the good life." To me, this expression embodies Italian lifestyle. They live the beautiful life, complete with delicious food, amazing wine, loving friends and family and a laid-back lifestyle.

It's completely different from the American way which, to me, is really centered on making money and displaying one's wealth. By not focusing on money and the superficial, one can start to appreciate other things in their lives like the clouds in the sky or the ground beneath their feet, the things that make life beautiful.

3. Sonnellini sono una necessita (Naps are a necessity)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

I think one of the best things about Southern Italy is the naps. It gives the students and workers a break mid-day so they can recharge and be ready to get back to work later on. It also allows them to stay up really late to party or hang out (which they always do without fail). Whenever I take a nap, I instantly feel better and I can get my work done without falling asleep. In Italy, everything shuts down during the nap so really your only options are to just sit and wait for things to open back up or take a nap too.

I remember the first time I went to Italy, I didn't take any naps because I thought it was ridiculous. But the next time I went, I immediately dropped my American ways and saw the value of naps in the middle of the day, especially because it was so hot and I would melt in the heat.

4. Cibo e' un'arte (Food is an art)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

Everyone knows that Italian food is amazing, but homemade Italian food is the closest someone can get to heaven on Earth. I learned that food is an art from making tomato sauce in my uncle's backyard and watching my family cook. When we make tomato sauce, I can see how much effort is put into making the perfect product. We have to chop up the tomatoes, cook them, put them into the machines multiple times and then can them (not necessarily in that order). It's labor intensive and definitely worth it. Watching all my family members cook is like watching artists at work. They really do pour their heart and soul into their food and that's what makes it good.

Every time my dad cooks, he never makes dishes exactly the same way twice. He'll take a recipe that we like and change it a bit. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but he learns from it and then applies his new knowledge for the next time. When we're in Italy, it's incredible to see what my family can make in their kitchens. Platters and platters of food come streaming out and each bite is savored, never eaten.

5. Famiglia e' tutto (Family is everything)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

Family is everything in Italy. Most of the businesses in small towns are family-run and people use family ties to their advantage to network or get jobs. Families there stick together, whether that be through living in the same town or building, or just seeing each other on special occasions. Having an extended family there not only allows you a large network of support but also more places that you can call home because home is where your family is.

6. Amici sono famiglia (Friends are family)

Photo by Risa Vergara

Something else that I learned from my relatives more so in the U.S. is that friends are family. At large family events like Christmas or Thanksgiving, there are always people who aren't related to us. Sometimes they're lifelong friends or people that we've only known for a month or two; Whoever they are, they're always welcome to eat with us and celebrate.

7. Vivi con passion (Live with passion)

Photo by Oscar Masciandaro

Everything Italians do is filled with passion. It's shown in their words, their actions and everything that they do. When they talk, it sounds like they're arguing, but in reality, they're just talking about something like what they did that day or the weather. When they speak, they firmly believe in what they say and the things that they do are things that they love. You can hear it in their voices when they crescendo and decrescendo how passionate they are about the subject. Talking to them and being around them always makes me want to find things that I am passionate about.

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.


My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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Summer = Rest?

Sometimes it feels as if we need a vacation... from our vacation.


Ah summer: Popsicles and sun burns, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade that local kids are pandering to make enough money for Roman candles and Black Cats. The crack of the bat can be heard among the simmering charcoal grills and Troy-bilts humming through the ever-lasting sun. School is out and children are wild. It's a paradise.

Or is it?

But after countless sports camps and tournaments, other camps, vacations, school (?) events, traveling teams, VBS, summer seems to have been sucked fun-free.

Maybe it's Hollywood and Harper Lee's fault for giving us this utopian view of what summer should look and feel like (I'm looking at you Sandlot). But how can we really rest this summer? Because everyone needs some actual rest, even adults.

First thing is do NOT pack your summer full. Say no to some things. Coaches and Families can expect too much and it's okay to say no to them. You have to. There is no time for kids to be kids anymore.

Work can take a backseat. Vacations need to be taken. Families need to reconnect.

And for all my super-scheduled people out there, please PLEASE don't schedule out your vacation. Just enjoy it.

Another bit of advice would be to put away the technology and spend some time outside. When was the last time you tried to catch lightning bugs? Or went for a swim? Or listened to birds on your front porch?

I may sound like I have an old soul, but I really feel like we have lost this connection to the outside world. Summer is all about getting a farmer's tan and getting stung once or twice. I can guarantee you that's some of the best therapy in the world.

Maybe this sounds all over the place. Maybe this sounds like me ranting. And it probably is.

But I'm telling you that this stuff matters. Don't let summer whiz by and you arrive in August more drained that you were in May. Enjoy this time with family and friends.

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