Slow Down, You Are In Italy!

Suppose the pandemic has taught us something, that might be valuing time and how we spend it. People realized that work-life balance has a greater value than what money can buy.

During the pandemic we learned that we could be productive but still have the tranquility to enjoy time with loved ones, take on those ‘hobbies’ that we’ve never had time to indulge in, and not run around frantically, trying to tick all the boxes on our packed to-do-list.

We have great news for you, our dear reader, if you are looking to enjoy a slower pace of life, soaking in the beauty of smells, people, colors, cities, and atmospheres from the past, you are in the right place. Come to Italy! In Florence students relish the dreamy lifestyle (which they compare to the one back home, in the US) and start to deliberately spend those extra 10 minutes drinking their coffees, sitting at a table, or staying seated after a meal, only to finish that compelling conversation, and maybe have a little more dessert, to accompany the chat.

A few minutes after landing in Florence, many of our students are horrified by the amount of walking required in town, the lethargic line at the store, having to ask for the bill at a restaurant (etc.), the extra time that one is expected to spend while enjoying life, and not being ‘economically’ productive. 

“What are you doing?”, asked the man. She answered, ‘Sto’ (I stay put). It is the southern European peculiar way of letting time slowly move forward, where the modern concept of time doesn’t fit in. You measure time by looking at the sun rise and set, by the meal hour, nature, with its leaves drifting in the warm breeze, birds chirping, a dog bark, people’s conversations about the meaning of life, or the latest political scandal, a car’s horn, a boy shouting down the road, some electronic engine in the distance with its comforting sound. You stay put, sitting, contemplating, not waiting for anything in particular to happen. “Sto” is a skill in itself. If not acquired at a young age, one needs to learn to avoid the urge of ‘doing’, that compelling itch to be productive, to do, to see, to obtain, to not stop, “never stop, keep going”, they say.

Photo credit Nina Peci, ISI Florence, “Croatian Fijaka”

Students say it is one of the things they will miss the most once they return to the US. But we do hope they will take back with them and divulge a bit of slow life, a hint and celebration of “Sto”.

We came across the Vita____Lenta project by Italian graphic designer Gianvito Fanelli. He recently moved from fast-paced Milano to return to his homeland in the south of Italy, Puglia. Vita____Lenta project intends to depict short videos of that life that seemed, until not very long ago, relegated to a nostalgic grandfather storytelling about his childhood games, but instead is now coming back to the forefront as it may possibly be a more sustainable way of living, both for the Earth and the people.


Photo credit Nina Peci, ISI Florence, “Sto… in Sicily”

His saying about the move, “Today in Puglia it is not uncommon to find people who have or who, even before the pandemic, had decided to leave the city to embrace the lifestyle of the South. Not only locals but also foreigners who want to “slow down” and invest in a land that is still largely a beautiful mass of clay to shape.”

Read here about his decision to return to the origins and a slower, kinder, and meaningful life.