Living life the Roman way.
If ever I can count on anything in my character, it’s my uncanning capability to feel small joys in all circumstances. Even in a difficult situation, I can smile at children gobbling up ice creams or nonna’s walking arm in arm in the street gossiping about the neighbourhood. I can smile at my 50-year old Italian Airbnb hostess that is going to spend the weekend at her boyfriend while she lets her apartment to me. (Isn’t there something so wonderfully rebellious about having a boyfriend when you are 50?)
And these small joys are what keep me going. Sometimes it’s better to pretend you are all fine, until you are. And these Italians have got that down.
I see wonderfully dressed Italian women walk the cobbled streets in the highest pairs of heels without even wincing when they misstep. They carry on. They are on a mission. And who could not admire that kind of an attitude?
Today I could not keep myself from staring at an older gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather, except he dressed nothing like him. (My dearest grandfather has been wearing the same t-shirt and sweater for almost a year now) At 30 degrees this man was dressed in a full on Armani suit, topped with a sun hat and accessorised with a tie and stylish sunglasses. As the man was walking at a pace even turtles would mock, he looked as proud and dignified as those sexy Italian women on their high heels. He stopped at a small café for an espresso and after he downed it in one shot, he carried on courageously, avoiding the buses of Asian tourists unloading left and right.
Italian people have this kind of aggression about them. This kind of way to attack life, grab it by the balls. They walk purposely through the streets, they yell at their phones and make abusive hand gestures when the driver in front of them is an idiot. And this behaviour is in complete contrast with their overwhelming love for cosiness, for food and living the good life. One thing is certain, these are a people who have a clear point of view in life, an in-your-face-mentality I have to admire.
While we are told as children to tone it down, to be careful, to not want too much or do too much… these Italian children are running the streets and eating two gelato’s a day. They are all in. All in this life. Take it or leave it. There is simply no time for false modesty or being any different than you are.
During lunch I was admiring this couple who were unable to keep their hands off each other. Kissing more than they were eating and drowning in each other’s eyes. They were quite a spectacle to people walking by, which they seemed to simply not notice. They were busy feeding each other mozzarella di bufala and sipping on white wine. Who cares about anything else?
Maybe these are the two things I need to learn from these Italians, these Romans.
Be authentically you, loud and shamelessly yourself. Aggressively you.
Fake it until you make it. Or in the case of my older gentleman: suit up kid, no time for self pity.