Savouring the Everyday Pleasures of Irresistible Italy

My typical day starts at the bar where I ease into the morning with a hot, frothy cappuccino, made just right by our friendly barista, who dishes the day’s news along with the caffeine. She is the hub of the village, the one who explains who’s who and what’s going on. Not a gossip, really, just an “informer”.

On my walk home through narrow lanes, I’m often stopped by someone gifting me fresh-picked vegetables or fruit as they return from their early morning gardening—their generous harvest often determines my lunch menu. Life in small town southern Italy guarantees an abundance of fresh organic produce; in return, we provide English translations, help out at local events and my husband makes home-brewed beer, much to the joy of our friends.

We love the simple rhythm of life here and the way it remains rooted in tradition (but with the happy addition of high speed internet and smartphones). The air around the village emanates the seasons—the aroma of tomato sauce in August, fruit jams in September, grapey wine scents in October, chestnuts and mushrooms in November. Life follows a time-honoured cycle and the most traffic we deal with around our town is when the sheep block the road.

©Valerie Forney-Schneider
Rush hour Basilicata style.

Our casa (home) is overlooked by the Dolomiti Lucane mountains, whose jagged spires delineate the landscape. We dine on our terrace or on our balcony from spring through to autumn, enjoying the view and fresh mountain air.

©Valerie Forney-Schneider
I never tire of the breathtaking mountain views from our balcony.

We go for walks along the country lanes and in the nearby forest. But we enjoy summer jaunts down to the beach, too. Over on the west side of Basilicata is our piece of paradise, a small but spectacular piece of Mediterranean coastline. The glittery sun-drenched seaside of Maratea is as beautiful as the Amalfi Coast but without the crowds. Its old town has a carefree air while the quiet coves and unique black sand beaches below are kissed by turquoise waters, the ideal place to relax. We get to enjoy the best of mountain and sea in a single day.

©Valerie Forney-Schneider
The sun-soaked coastal town of Maratea is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.

The truth is, Italian life is special no matter where you settle. It’s a land of simple pleasures, laidback living, gorgeous scenery and hospitable people. Add in renowned cuisine, world-class wine, an astounding variety of art and culture, incredible historic sights and an overall enticing atmosphere in almost every town and city, and it’s hard not to fall in love with Italy.

We certainly couldn’t resist her allure. In fact, the entire country seems to have inspired its famed art, with Bellini-blue skies, Titian-reds in the flower boxes, Raphael landscapes and pastoral Da Vinci scenes all common in everyday life. We adore the traditional food festivals and the elaborate historic palio (horse racing) events that have been carried on for centuries.

Perhaps our favourite thing is the way we’ve been accepted as a part of the community. We’ve made enduring friendships; they make us feel like locals despite our accents betraying us. We like the settled feel, like we’ve made a comfy nest with a great view. And whenever we want a change of pace, we can visit someplace new to appreciate the history, sights, entertainment and foods that vary region by region.

Life here in Italy has a sane pace and a traditional bent but is never boring. It’s sweet. “La dolce vita” really does exist. Come and see for yourself…

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