Monday, October 18, 2010

The Italian Secret to a Long Life

On the Amalfi Coast, we had the privilege of staying with an Italian family and experience their amazing hospitality and love for life. With three generations living on one property, you could visibly see how important family is in the Italian culture. We were treated to Grandma’s home cooked dinners, including the best gnocchi and tiramisu we’ve tasted. We had a whole lot of fun trying to communicate when the family’s English was limited and so was our Italian. Thankfully, hand gestures are a perfectly acceptable form of communication in Italy and it’s amazing how much can be said if you get really creative!
Grandma's home made gnocchi...mmmm!

Just a few family members

We spent a significant amount of time with the Grandfather of the family – Luigi who seemed to take a liking to us. We were greeted by him in the morning and as a result, didn’t leave the house until after 11am each day. We returned in the evenings to find that he was almost looking for us. It was such a joy to be in his company and even though his English wasn’t brilliant, he gave it a good go and he had such a zest for life that drew us to spend time with him for hours. We were so impressed by the fact that he was trying really hard to learn English using his two phrasebooks and genuinely desired to communicate with us. With the help of Google translator, we managed several conversations and laughed until we cried. We even met some of Luigi’s extended family and discovered that Italian men are obviously very proud of their big round belly because they like to point it out to you, with a pat, a rub and a big cheesy grin! We managed to decipher that they wanted us to stay longer and if we did, they could help Tim out with growing his belly!

One discussion we had with Luigi really stuck with us – firstly, he told us he was 80 years old and we were so shocked he obviously thought we didn’t believe him because he pulled out his pensioners I.D card with his date of birth. Honestly, this guy looked barely older than 60 and it made us instantly curious about what has kept him young. He went on to explain that the secret to a long life involves 3 things…..number one – eat fresh organic produce with no artificial preservatives/pesticides, number two – allow 2-3 hours to sit and have your meals and number three – consume a small amount of red wine each day. Luigi took us to his ‘workshop’, otherwise known as the kitchen out the back and there we saw plump red tomatoes and curing prosciutto hanging from the ceiling. In one corner was his limoncello in the making – lemon peel soaking in large tubs of 95% alcohol. As we sampled Luigi’s home grown produce, we were inspired by the passion that so obviously went into the creation of delicious culinary delicacies.


One of the things we love about the Italian culture is how much each meal is central to the day and these times are never rushed. Eating is such a relaxing and enjoyable task here and our digestion really thanked us for it. For someone who usually has gut problems, mine were almost non-existent during our time here, despite eating pasta almost every day. Interesting! Ok, so allowing 2-3 hours for meals might seem a bit unrealistic in our own culture, especially with scheduled working hours, but we can definitely learn from the Italians and maybe slow down a bit more. We might just add a few years to our lives.


Post a Comment