This month our #Dolcevitablogger topic is to describe our 'Dolce vita'. What does it mean for each of us?
While the famous film, Federico Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita' shows us a frivolous, carefree life with a dark undercurrent. My version of 'a sweet life' is something much simpler and more transparent.
In my twenties I had this idea that really living was trying out THE latest restaurant in London and making sure each trip was to somewhere new, exciting and a bucket list destination! I wanted to experience everything, travel everywhere and not miss out on anything!
These things no longer make me happy. Which is good really because it sounds exhausting now!
Below you will find my ingredients for a sweet life when I'm in Italy. I hope you enjoy them and please join in and share yours...
This is quite hard to do in London which moves at an insane pace. I often find myself tailgating (on foot!) slow walking people and then wondering what I'm doing and why I think I need to get somewhere so quickly!
In Italy I find it easier to switch off. You are forced into a different rhythm as shops close for long breaks over lunch. You sit down to eat and no one gives you the bill as soon as you put down your fork.
I find myself joining in with an incredibly slow passeggiata and not minding the pace at all, in fact really enjoying it!
By this I mean family and friends. Obviously I love being with my immediate family but I've also got used to the craziness of my extended family.
I don't mind anymore that when we arrive the children are taken for a walk around the four houses surrounding Nonno's. These all belong to different cousins. They meet all the elderly aunts and uncles again and are given big squeezes, random toys that make alarming noises and various edible treats.
Someone will then push them on the swing in the garden for what seems like five hours and I can sit under the kiwi tree and let someone else do the childcare!
The little ones adore it, they go to Nonno's workshop and think they're building 'stuff'. Chase geckos, eat wild strawberries and play with the neighbour's children.
Of course one of the sweet things about life in Italy is food! Slightly embarrassingly we love a trip to the supermarket and taking a moment to appreciate the pasta aisle, and bakery ( a thing of beauty!).
My Husband always buys the random but every day products you can't find in the UK such as Simmental a kind of even worse version of corned beef! Then there's Rio Mare tuna which is actually the best tinned tuna I've ever had. I know I sound a bit odd but it's so different to what you can find in England. It has huge big chunks and is kept in olive oil. The closest to the quality is Waitrose tuna in olive oil but it's still not quite as good.
More exciting products we love are Tarallini, Crodino, Taleggio, a prosciutto called Coppa di Parma, and Baci di Dama, these are little biscuits called 'Ladies kisses'.
Nonno also gives us a huge basket of courgettes, kiwis, and tomatoes from his garden. The smell of home grown tomatoes alone should be an ingredient of a sweet life!
4. The great outdoors
I'm a country girl at heart. I grew up in rural Berkshire and spent most of my childhood climbing hay bales and riding my bike to nearby villages with a motley crew of children. There were no mobile phones at this point so our parents all just assumed the older ones would make sure we got back ok.
I sometimes mourn the fact that living in London my children are not experiencing this amount of freedom. Although we try whenever possible to get out of the city. It can take up to 2 hours just to cross London before you've even gone anywhere!
Due to this I feel a greater sense of adventure when we're in Italy. From Milan we can be in the countryside in 30 mins. The lake district in 40 mins. The mountains in 2-3 hours depending on your route.
We do and see a lot more and my children start to understand the concept of countryside actually being wild open space rather than thinking it's a park. It breaks my heart whenever they pass a field and say "Look Mamma a big park!". I have to explain no this is what there was before people came and built everything! Sob sob!
My last point I'm sure resonates with each of us. Probably I am more mindful when I'm in Italy as I have time to stop. I can't do the chores or the school run. So I have to take time out and appreciate what and who is around me.
I started Mammaprada to enable me to work around my children and have more balance. As it's gained momentum my children have too often seen me with a laptop or phone! This isn't what I was striving for. The aim was to somehow get that illusive balance of being present in both work and home.
I've written a lot less in the last month as I needed to regroup. I had to get my own 'house in order'. I was worried everything would fall apart and that what I've built so far would disappear.
What I've realised is that actually nothing has happened! I've just had quality time with my family. Prepared us for a summer in Italy this year. Helped my son with his worries about moving to the next school year. Had lots of important medical appointments with my daughter. And for me taken up running again.
I don't think I have to be in Italy to find this last ingredient of a sweet life. Really we all just need to appreciate what is important and take care of those people and things that matter most.