The problem? “I had been attempting to live in Italy without living as an Italian.”

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Catania, Sicily (2016)

The author moved to Italy and found herself perplexed that Italians typically aren’t outraged by the sort of relatively minor difficulties that send Americans howling to social media for illusory relief.

And then she learned something.

What Italians Taught Me About Nothing, by Isabella Lazzareschi (Medium)

… Answers to these questions came to me later after moving to a smaller and rather ancient Italian town. Just north of Rome, the Etruscan village of Viterbo was still surrounded by a protective wall from the 11th century — the original cobblestones jutting out at every angle like the mangled teeth of an ancient creature. The both beautiful and haunting deterioration of the city kept both cars and pedestrians at a slow pace, which seemed to fit the overall culture of the self-contained city. After learning every stone of my walk to work, and when every barista knew my coffee order and name, I felt myself relax into the scaffolding of a true Italian lifestyle. Soon after, my aforementioned frustrations seemed to dissipate gently, like the commuters into the streets on that day I waited for a bus that would never come. I learned to value something that Americans avoid at all costs: idle time.

This concept is an unyielding centerpiece around which the Italian culture hangs. Idle time — moments to be present with friends and family, to allow ourselves to indulge in both deep introspection and light-hearted chatter, writing down thoughts that pass through our heads throughout the day — allows us the ability to keep our demanding lives from ruling our existences. To do nothing is to have the power to quiet our surroundings and sometimes indulge in solitude — it is to allow our minds to grow inward …

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