In the fast paced world we live in today, where beepers (if you're old school), SmartPhones,
The Italians really understand this necessary yellow-light moment that we need to take each day. In fact, the Italians, as a country, slow down at the same time every day with a simple evening passeggiata - a time to walk through downtown with that special someone, catch up with your neighbors, and enjoy a delicious coppetta of gelato.
In all fairness, the Italians aren't exactly what we would say living in the same 'fast paced world' as the rest of us. Let's just say technology hasn't quite gripped the Italians with its addictive hands quite yet - and this may be in part because of various cultural habits, such as the passeggiata, but that discussion is for another day and another place.
As a tourist, the days are packed with visiting, bombarded with visits to basilicas, cathedrals, museums, shops, and so many other things that it's difficult to take a step back and say: "Yes, I am only here for a short time, and while I want to see everything, I also don't want to be someone who just looks in and visits - I want to experience."
If you have ever had this thought, you my friend are not a tourist - you are a traveler. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now as a traveler, you are obliged to not just be an audience to culture, but to partake in the grand stage of it.
So when you are in Italy, after your long day of absorbing grand pieces of art, dealing with the ever-changing bus routes, and running around trying to get a better deal on those David boxers, remember to go for a stroll after dinner down the main streets of the downtown area. Grab a gelato, take a seat and just savor the moment - look around and watch as couples walk hand in hand and others sit and chat about the latest gossip. This is a time to see new romances on display and quite possibly the latest shoe fashions. Just remember that this social ritual is a stroll - a very slow leisurely walk that is quite difficult to master due to our fast paced lifestyles.
The thing to remember when visiting Italy is that you should partake in this social ritual during your stay in order to learn and experience a little of what it means to be Italian. Food, passeggiata, gelato; it really doesn't get much better than that.
The passeggiata, a definite DO on any Italian trip.
Buona sera and travel on.