I had been to Italy before and remembered being awed by the beauty around every corner. The people were walking works of art. The buildings were lovingly adorned with carvings and curves that just made them not simply functional, but beautiful. Squares were gathering places for life, smiles, and affection. My memories were all so colorful and alive. After seeing Eat, Pray, Love, I couldn’t wait to see if I still thought the word for Italy was Love (unlike Elizabeth Gilbert who said the word was Eat). After visiting again in 2018, my word for Italy is not just one word, but a phrase: la dolce vita. Let’s start first with the food.
Okay, Elizabeth Gilbert had better food than I did the first time. Italy has come around to better food for tourists. It’s now much more affordable, fresher, and quicker than in the past. It’s still Italian in flavors, presentation, and speed, but is more of a mouth watering experience now. You can tell that the quality of ingredients is just superior. Everything is fresh- fresh pasta, fresh vegetables, even fresh meat and cheese. My eyes, mouth, and stomach exploded with happiness at every meal.
Whereas the first time I was there I only had two outstanding food experiences, there wasn’t one bad one this time. And the piece de resistance was the gelato. I say this and people are like, “What? Gelato?” Yes, it was all that. It literally puts the “sweet” in sweet life. If you go to Rome, you must stop by Giolitti. There is a gelateria on every street corner, but keep walking until you get to Giolitti. It costs more for table service, but spring for the whole enchilada. You won’t regret it.
Travel is always made better by the presence of fabulous food. Italy does not disappoint in this department. Sweetness rating: 10.
For all forms of manmade beauty, whether that be sculpture, architecture, paintings, fashion, or cosmetics, Italy “wins.” There is a long history of fusing beauty and function that seems to simply permeate the Italian bloodline and flow out into everything they do. Open doorways lead to beautiful courtyards simply adorned with a statue in an alcove with the light hitting it just right. The plants and colors, whether vibrant or muted, perfectly compliment the surrounding area and make you gasp with delight for having rested your eyes there. This theme repeats everywhere in private and public spaces.
Being surrounded by visual delights greatly enhances the enjoyment of life and makes the heart lighter. Love flows more easily where life is sweet. Since man is the creator of this beauty, my appreciation for mankind and our creativity soars in Italy. Painted beauty rating: 10.
This is where the Divine shines. The sunlight in Italy seems brighter and sweeter as if it is flowing from a love filled sky. Wildflowers sprout among the scattered rocks of fallen ruins. The waters of the Tiber and Adriatic Sea sparkle by the light of the moon. When a herd of sheep blocks the bike path, you can’t get mad. You just smile that this is happening to you in Italy!
Nature is a timeless reminder that civilizations rise and fall, but Nature goes on. The spring will always bring chicks, calves, and corn. When you don’t know how to find your center, you can always come here and get both grounded in every day life and elevated to the heights of your spirit. Life is always sweet in nature. Natural beauty rating: 10.
Unless you like cathedrals and popes, Italy probably isn’t at the top of your spiritual travel list, but anything can be sacred if your heart sees it as so. For me the big take away from Italy was to bring back la dolce vita into my every day life. It doesn’t take much to create a beautiful outfit, a corner garden, or a lovely dinner. All it takes it loving care. If we sprinkled that throughout our day, life would be sweet indeed.