I have just had the most amazing two weeks in Rome.
If you know me, you will know I am absolutely crazy about Italy; the food, the wine, the coffee, the history, the language and the lifestyle.
In Rome I tasted my first real Spaghetti alla Carbonara, was inspired beyond words by the work of Michelangelo, Bernini and Caravaggio, walked endlessly through the narrow, cobbled streets and fell in love with Tiramisu.
I also had time to reflect, to think and to learn a few things from my new friends, the Italians.
What I learned in Rome
Italians are complicated and figuring them out can be tricky. I love them for their contradictions and admire their unwavering confidence. One day as I was walking up to the Borghese Gardens, I was wondering about the Italian lack of regulation. In Italy, you can park wherever you like – on a pedestrian crossing, under a bridge or double park while you stop for a caffe and chat with a friend. No problem. Traffic lights are provided not as a rule, but more as a suggestion. You don’t have to wear a helmut when riding your bike if you prefer not to and it is completely acceptable to sit down to dinner with your family at 10 o’clock at night!
As I was wondering about the attitude towards rules and regulations in Italy, it occurred to me that perhaps the Italians have it right.
We are so regulated here in Australia and in many cases, for good reason. We all want to live in a safe, healthy and connected community…but at what cost?
In Italy, it is up to YOU to decide what is the best for YOU. What makes sense for you, what will make your day a little better. The responsibility lies within each individual to make the right choices and decisions for themselves and everyone else butts out and minds their own business (unless you want a cappuccino after lunch, then it’s all “what, are you crazy?!” See what I mean about contradictions!). In a way, it is empowering, this assumption that you know what is best for yourself and your family.
The rules when it comes to driving and traffic are relaxed because regulation disrupts flow.
Regulation disrupts flow – This was a Rome light bulb moment for me and I was curious about how it applies to my own passion – food and lifestyle.
Have we become so obsessed with ‘healthy eating’ that we have forgotten to listen to our own body’s needs?
Do we prioritise what we think we should be eating (according to the latest blog post, instagram pic or Facebook status) over what makes sense to us?
Does constantly regulating our shopping lists, meal plans and food preparation disrupt our flow and make life harder? Less enjoyable?
Are we so scared of making a mistake or getting it wrong that we are missing out on the celebration, ritual and connection that is at the very core of food and eating and making ourselves miserable in the process?
The Italians celebrate la dolce vita. Every meal is an opportunity to celebrate family, to connect and to appreciate what is good in life. They make time for this. It is a priority.
Could we adopt this approach? It wouldn’t be easy.
What are the consequences of changing our attitudes?
What are we so scared of?
And, more importantly, what do we have to gain?
I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how regulations and rules have affected your life and especially the way you eat. Do they enable flow for you or are you a slave to an ideal you seem always to fall short of?
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