Lately I’ve had this idea – a type of realization that’s been forming slowly in the back of my mind -about some of the things that make me so enjoy life in Italy. Beyond the obvious, of course. And as this idea has taken shape, the only way I could describe it is like this:
In my Italian home, Siena, I live closer to life, if you will. Closer to life in a raw, unrefined, unchanneled state. Closer to life. That’s the phrase that first came to mind, and the only way I’ve been able to describe it. Closer to life. And I love it.
In my life in Italy, there seem to be fewer barriers – not counting Italian Bureaucracy, which is a barrier to everything. Barriers to what though? It’s hard to put a finger on it. Fewer barriers between myself and the world that is in motion around me, I guess. Fewer barriers between my life and the lives of others.
Take windows, for example. Open windows. Finestre aperte. Italian windows are always open and mostly screenless, allowing the clamour of the neighbour’s dinner dishes, the crowing of a nearby gallo (rooster) in the morning, or the sound of people talking in the street to float freely into your living room and your life. Fewer barriers allow for lives to mix and for people to live more comunally. It’s beautiful. Getting used to sleeping with my screenless windows open, although a very trivial thing, was somehow quite liberating for me. Instead of trying to keep the world out, keeping my windows open was like an invition to invite life in. All of life. The good, the great, the bad and the ugly. Welcome world, benvenuto a casa mia.
I’ve also found that I try to control fewer things and allow myself to be gently rocked by the ebb and flow of life. A complicated, chaotic country, Italy has taught me to be more flexible, more adaptable, and less demanding, among other things.
Let’s go back to the finestre aperte example, shall we? Keeping my windows open is something I do out of both pleasure and necessity. Italy gets pretty darn hot in the summertime, and I’ll take any venticello (breeze) I can get. But it also means my house isn’t climate controlled. It isn’t air conditioned. I’m not worrying about opening my windows or my door and “letting all the bought air out” as some of my fellow North Americans might say. I don’t worry about being in a room that is always 20 degrees celcius, no matter what’s happening outside. I adapt to the heat, and bundle up for the cold. I’m ok with things being out of my control. Life is more natural that way.
As I write this post, I realize I could go on forever. So maybe this Closer to Life post will become a Closer to Life mini-series, with this installment, Finestre Aperte being the first of many posts that talk about the aspects of life in Italy that bring me contentment and happiness, that allow me to live more simply, that bring me closer to life.