October is National Italian American Heritage month in the U.S. As an Italian-American who strives every day to live La Dolce Vita (the sweet life), I have made a list of ways to celebrate like an Italian. You don’t have to be Italian to incorporate some of these activities into your life.
1. Dine with friends. Italians love to share a meal with loved ones. Dinner can take several hours while friends savor several courses and enjoy good company.
2. Flirt. Have you ever known an Italian who wasn’t a charmer? Flirting is a harmless activity that is fun for everyone involved. Hold someone’s gaze a little longer, smile at the shopkeeper, throw a hot wink.
3. Wrap up in a colorful scarf. Italy is known for its beautiful textiles. Accessorize your outfits with a warm, cozy merino wool splash of color.
4. Have an espresso. Italians love their coffee and make some of the best. It’s a great excuse to buy a cute set of tiny espresso cups and coffee spoons.
6. Make a batch of homemade tomato sauce. Start with a can of crushed tomatoes, add some tomato paste, some water and dried Italian herbs, and you’ve got yourself a delicious basic sauce. Jazz it up with garlic, onions, or whatever you like. See my recipe for Arrabbiata sauce.
7. Drink some red wine. I love a good Barolo or Chianti Classico. It’s good for your heart.
9. Wear sunglasses no matter what time of year. Italians wear fashionable shades in winter, summer, spring and fall. It adds an air of mystery.
10. Mix your pasta with healthy green leafy vegetables. Favorites include spinach, chard, broccoli rabe, or black cabbage (a.k.a. Tuscan kale).
11. Wear a tweed jacket. In busy Italian cities, the women often wear menswear-inspired attire to work. It will go very nicely with #3.
12. Buy a pair of Italian leather shoes or boots. They are an investment you won’t regret.
13. Have an aperitivo. It’s the Italian version of happy hour: a small liqueur and a few tidbits to eat.
14. Practice double-cheek kisses. It’s a lovely way to say hello and good-bye.
Do you notice a pattern emerging? Learning to live like an Italian is all about the pleasures of life. Food, drink, fashion and romance. La Dolce Vita.
Pick up a copy of my cookbook, The Big Book of Mediterranean Diet Cooking.