Welcome to my Blog: La Bella Vita! I would like to start by explaining who I am, why I chose to start this blog and what exactly “La Bella Vita” means to me…
My name is Gian Riccardo DiCandia, I was born in the US, where my family emigrated from Apulia, a beautiful region in Southern Italy. My family settled in NJ, however, we moved around a lot, I spent time on the west coast and even some time in Texas. Growing up in such diverse areas of America, while caring the Italian culture with us in the home, gave me a unique perspective on life.
As I got older I spent a few years in South America before I finally settled in Napoli, Italia. I immediately felt at home in Naples and spent many happy years there. Napoli was the hardest place for me to leave —a decision that I still sometimes regret. Since I grew up moving around, it was usually very easy for me to move. Why was it so hard to leave Naples? That question really made me reflect on the bella vita and what it really meant.
WHAT IS LA BELLA VITA?
You are probably familiar with the expression, it loosely translates to “the good life”. The expression is used in Italy to refer to the total enjoyment of ones life, activities and surroundings. It illustrates total satisfaction and fulfillment. La bella vita is something that deep down inside we all want, but most of us never really achieve.
LIFE WORK BALANCE
When I left Napoli and tried to go back to the rat race that most of us think we are destined to live I realized that most of us have it all wrong. La bella vita isn’t following the American dream —working eight to five and buying all types of gadgets, and luxury Items— la bella vita is much more simple and surprisingly easy to attain! I realized that even though most native Neapolitans are not wealthy they —like most Italians— seem to have intuited how to really enjoy life in a way that most Americans just don’t seem to understand.
The Italian are masters a life work balance which is the main ingredient in living la bella vita. The Italian workday is quite different from anything that most Americans are used to. A typical Italian workday starts at around 9:00 in the morning and stops for lunch around 1:00 in the afternoon, lunch usually lasts until around 3:00, the further south you go the longer the lunches are. Most businesses open back up around 3:00 and stay open until around 6:00 although some stores stay open later.
Vacation time is also very different from what Americans are used to! Forget a one week vacation, the average Italian take the entire month of August off! Whole cities are literally abandoned in August if there is no tourism there! Of course Christmas time means a week off not only for the children from school, but usually also for the parents from work. That’s not to mention the other close to twenty national holidays that shut almost everything down!
This usually infuriates many Americans that are convinced that the whole world should live like them, however, I don’t consider those who are stuck in their routine rat race to be any better off, to the contrary…
Italians do work hard, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t care too much about work. It isn’t the focus of their life. Whereas most Americans define themselves by what they do and live to work. Most Italians have the more balanced view of working to live?
In this blog we will put a lot of emphasis on the life work balance. I hope to write often about the lessons that can be learned from the Italian culture in this regards.
In Italy the most important part of most days is lunchtime, not only because of the food that is eaten —which is usually enough to send you into an bliss— lunchtime is also important because of the people that it is spent with. Many families in Southern Italy still eat lunch together every day (that explains the long lunches). Sunday lunches are usually an all day ordeal that extends to the larger family and sometimes close friends!
A typical Sunday lunch —for southern Italians— starts around 1:00 in the afternoon and can continue until the late evening hours. Many non Italians criticize this as a waste of time, however, there are many lessons that should be learned form it.
Meal times are when family bonds are pulled together, when feelings of love and companionship are strengthened and when misunderstandings become understandings. A time when one belongs and can just relax, be oneself and enjoy those around them. Home cooked meals are the biggest antidote to “dysfunctional families” and all of the headaches, trials that come along with them. Several studies have been on the effects of eating together, with very surprising conclusions (much more on that will come in a future post).
The art of cooking, eating and socializing has been perfected in Italy after centuries of practice, and a lot can be learned from it! In this blog I hope to concentrate a lot on this topic.
HOW TO LIVE LA BELLA VITA
In this article we have taken a brief look at what La Bella Vita means. We then proceeded to examine to principals that can help one live a satisfying life.
I have put together a total of seven principals that when understood and put together will teach anyone how to leave the retrace behind and start living La Bella Vita! I am not recommending abandoning everything, that would most likely result in misery and loss. What I suggest is much deeper and more meaningful, it can be done with the life that you are living right now!
In order to live La Bella Vita you must refine your senses, you must —with an open mind— consider that fact that the way most people live in this modern age is pretty much: wrong! Once you are able to recognize what really should matter in your life you can start to work on achieving it. What “really matters” can be somewhat different for each person and it usually is! But, the seven principals that you will learn with this site can be applied to any circumstance.
For example: we just got done talking about food, everyone eats! It doesn’t matter that the food is different, but everyone can —and should— learn to appreciate quality. Everyone has an innate need to eat in a stress free environment with people they enjoy being around…
The first and most important principle —as discussed above— is life and work balance. This is in harmony with and connected to the second principle: enjoying food! As simple as this may seem the difference that it makes in your life can be profound, and no I don’t mean eating more, I mean eating better! In future posts I will go into detail about what I mean and what everyone can learn form the Italian culture regards food.
In my next blog post I will introduce some more principals to living the good life.
Keep your eye out for my next blog post, I think you will be happy that you did!