For many, travel is the greatest source of excitement and joy. A trip to a new destination offers an escape from our routine, and the cultural immersion introduces us to surprising experiences and lifestyles. Don’t you love tasting unexpected flavors in a local dish, stumbling upon a beautiful object made by a talented craftsman, and seeing scenes in real life that you’ve read about in books? Travel doesn’t only broaden your horizons; it nourishes your soul.
It goes without saying that travel in Italy is a truly special and transformative experience. Like the famous adage, Italy is truly a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.
Coming from Seattle, a buzzing city where there’s never enough time, the Italian lifestyle is extremely alluring to me. The slower pace of life, warm smiles, delicious food and views make the country feel like a painting come alive. I still reminisce about my honeymoon where we sailed along the Amalfi Coast and enjoyed long dinners dining beneath a full moon on warm summer nights. I’ve thought of this trip often during the pandemic and have tried my best to recreate a much-needed dose of la dolce vita in my daily life. Because although this is a difficult moment across the globe, Italy teaches you to always find the piccoli piacieri in your daily life. Here are my tips on how to recreate the Italian lifestyle wherever you are.
Travel through your tastebuds
You may not have an Italian nonna to help you prepare authentic Italian dishes at home, but there are so many wonderful regional cookbooks you can explore to bring a taste of Italy into your home. The best volumes don’t only demystify Italian cooking, they transport us to small towns and territories around the country and share personal anecdotes about living (and eating) in the Bel Paese. A few of our favorites include: Adriatico by Paola Bacchia, Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark, Pasta Grannies by Vicki Bennison and Eating My Way Through Italy by Elizabeth Minchilli.
And once you’ve created your menu, be sure to set a proper table. Turning a simple meal into a special event will make you feel like you’re at an Italian dinner party. If you want even more immersion, play some classic Italian tunes or stream the sounds of an Italian cafe for a 360 degree experience.
Read More: How To Host An Italian Dinner Party At Home
Ingredients delivered straight to your doorstep
A number of businesses in Italy are also offering food club and gourmet boxes that ship the best Italian ingredients straight to you, so you can eat and drink the best of Il Bel Paese at home. Florence-based culinary company Curious Appetite has a Florentine Food Club which ships bundles of Truffles, Porcini and Italian Cheeses along with an Aperitivo Snack Box. Grano & Farina, a cooking school in Rome, teaches you how to make everything from eggplant parmigiana and Neapolitan pizza to filled pastas and Italian biscotti online. Grano & Farina is also hosting regional cooking classes each Sunday (February is Emilia Romagna, March is on hold, April is Abruzzo and May is Sardegna).
And if you are looking for quality Italian ingredients, don’t miss ordering a box of Capri’s succulent pomodorini with the Michelangelo gift pack or EXAU‘s highly-praised extra-virgin olive oil which comes straight from the sun-drenched olive groves of Calabria. Wine lovers shouldn’t miss signing up for Roscioli’s wine club, which delivers hard-to-find bottles from organic Italian producers to wine enthusiasts in the US and beyond, accompanied with videos filmed in the vineyards. For a taste of culture with your glass of vino, be sure to check out La Dolce Vigna’s Wine + Culture Club which includes hand-picked wines delivered to you with Italian treats like ceramics, marbled paper notebooks, cookbooks, spices and other surprise goodies. The Wine + Culture Club also includes seasonal zoom classes that introduce you to unique elements of Italian culture.
Spruce up your home with Italian decor
Are you dreaming of the Tuscan sunsets? The colors found in Tuscan kitchens are the same colors found within the landscape of Tuscany.
Warm and earthy reds, yellows, oranges and brown dominate, mirroring the rose-gold sunsets and fertile soil. Fill an empty vase with a bunch of fresh blossoms you picked up at the farmers market, spruce up your kitchen counter with Italian olive oil and vinegar dispensers, and add ceramic kitchenware for a splash of color. Italians love to use fruit as decor, so fill a bowl with clementines, grapes or whatever is in season to make your space more vibrant. A kitchen filled with odes to the Italian lifestyle is sure to coax you into lingering over a long Sunday lunch or evening aperitivo.
You can shop many beautiful some Italian decor brands online. Based in Caltagirone, one of Italy’s most famous ceramic cities, Maremoro will add a touch of Sicilian sunshine to your home with bright serving bowls and teste di moro vases filled with fresh flowers. For a more minimalist kitchen, Dodicisessanta has gorgeous made-to-order textured porcelains inspired by raku pottery. The subtle details will add an understated elegance to your home. And we can’t mention Italian tableware without highlighting Fornasetti‘s whimsical plates which are chic, ironic and timeless.
Italy is also renowned for its sumptuous linens and fabrics made of quality yarns in sumptuous shades and patterns. We love Lisa Corti‘s colorful home furnishings that mix Italian and Indian elements – they’re perfect for a country estate. And Borgo delle Tovaglie has elegant linens with feminine ruffles, delicate plates and luxurious detailing. The fabrics come in gorgeous tonal shades for every home, and every season.
Take a virtual vacation in HD
Technology has ushered in an era of truly life-like, virtual experiences available in high-definition on our laptops or television screens. When I need to cure my wanderlust, I like to watch Rick Steve’s amazing travel videos which are filled with interesting tidbits and historical facts about cities in Italy (and around the world). You can take a walk through Naples and the ancient city of Pompeii, see highlights of Sicily and visit the Vatican.
Read More: Movies That Will Transport You To Italy
For a dose of outdoors, I also like to watch videos of hikes in the Dolomites, drone captures of Lake Como and aerial views of the Tuscan countryside. Just look up 4k Italy videos on YouTube and connect your phone to the largest screen in your home and you’ll be transported across the world instantly. Prowalks is one of our favorite channels for experiencing the beauty of Italy from the comfort of your home with videos about a bike ride through the Appian Way, a drone tour of Lucca and a deep dive into a wine cellar in Montepulciano.
If you’re an Italy lover, you’ve probably seen your fair share of movies filmed in Italy but what about the latest TV shows? You can explore the country and learn about regional cuisines in Stanley Tucci’s new series Searching for Italy on CNN. Wine lovers will want to watch Sip Trip Italy which takes you on a journey through the most beautiful vineyards in Italy. And if you’ve ever been curious about purchasing a home in Italy, don’t miss My Big Italian Adventure to see Lorraine Bracco renovate a 1 euro home in Sicily, or Rome-based interior designer Arlene Gibbs’ makeover of a home in a small-town in Lazio in Reno Italiano (both on HDTV).
I also love listening to podcasts to transport me to the canals of Venice, or the markets of Palermo, through sound. Erica Firpo’s Ciao Bella podcast focuses on Italy’s 21st century creators, innovators and artists, while The Bittersweet Life, hosted by Katy Sweall and Tiffany Parks, explores expat life abroad, Italian culture and how to live life more fully. Hosted by Cassandra Santoro of Travel Italian Style and Laura Thayer of Ciao Amalfi are also launching the Rediscover Italy podcast which shares stories of Italy, lessons from locals and travel tips. With its focus on the simple beauties of Italy, the podcast will help you experience the country in a more memorable, sustainable and fulfilling way.
Unwind with a good book
Last but not the least, in order to fully embrace the Italian lifestyle you need to make time for il dolce far niente. Italians are masters at slow living so spend a leisurely weekend curled up on your couch with a glass of wine in hand and your head in a book. Whether you want to follow Elizabeth Gilbert to Rome, Frances Mayes to Tuscany or Elena Ferrante to Naples, there are so many excellent books that will take your mind on a journey to bella Italia.
When I was waiting in Naples to catch my train to Venice, I walked into a bookstore and asked for advice on an Italian book to accompany me on the journey. I wanted to fully soak in my Italian experience and end my trip with a good story. The salesperson recommended Andrea Camilleri’s “A Nest of Vipers” which I read through the whole train ride – and finished in my flight back to Seattle. I’ll always associate the storyline with my trip and it served as the perfect bookend to my time in Il Bel Paese.
Read More: The Best Books About Italy