I chose the concept of La Dolce Vita as the inspiration for my first collection because it so beautifully encapsulates the idea of enjoying & taking pleasure in every single second of life. However, I know that Italy and the Italian lifestyle can seem so far away, so I wanted to put together some simple ways to bring that mindset and way of being into our everyday lives!
Below you will find my “5 Easy Ways to Embrace La Dolce Vita.” I have even created a printable checklist for you to put on your fridge, your mirror or anywhere you need a reminder to take a step back & remember that life is truly a beautiful and amazing thing that should be enjoyed🌈💖!
Each one of the 5 ways has an easy “Dolce Vita Challenge,” - give one a whirl this week and let me know how it went!
Ok, on to bringing way more Dolce into our lives…..
1) DO NOTHING
Now, this might be the hardest one for us (especially Americans) to do - we just aren't programmed to think that doing nothing is ok. We are conditioned, in all areas of our lives, that busy = better…. but it's just not! I've found that my "busyness" tends to not only add stress & anxiety to my life, but it distracts from the things that are deep down most important to me, and I have this sneaky feeling you probably feel the same….
Dolce Vita Challenge: Take yourself out to lunch one weekday (or pack a little picnic lunch and find a bench) and just sit there, enjoying your meal and observing the people who pass by. No phones, no work, no distractions…just being! It doesn't have to be a big deal, just your normal lunch, but with a much different attitude. Who knows, you might just love it and make it a weekly "Do Nothing" date with yourself!
2) MAKE COFFEE (or tea) A RITUAL
Italians have this down and I am convinced they are on to something. Coffee doesn't mean chugging a giant mug (or 3) down before you head to work to ensure you are properly caffeinated… it is a true art form. It is a ritual that you will find happening across Italy, at all times of day, no matter what city or small town you are in. There's the morning coffee, the after-lunch coffee, the afternoon coffee, the after-dinner coffee, and the before-you-go-out coffee…and it all happens around your local bar (not in your car or at your desk). It's above all, a social experience- talking to the barista, the other patrons standing next to you, your neighbor who happens to pop in right after you…it creates a rich, daily connected experience that I think we can learn a lot from.
Dolce Vita Challenge: We might not have the same coffee bar culture as Italy, but that doesn't mean you can't create your own, lovely coffee rituals in your own home. I've found that the key is to keep things simple and not try to make anything super extravagant (unless you are into that!) It's as easy as getting a simple espresso machine (trust me, you don't need that $500 one to make this happen), a handheld milk frother, and some beautiful/fun espresso cups that are just for you (I happen to love these hand-glazed beauties from Etsy). Now, here's the key, don't bring that espresso cup to your desk/laptop. Go sit in your favorite chair, by a window, or on your front porch (or steps) and just enjoy for 5 minutes. Sounds pretty blissful to me :)
3) LEARN TO LOVE IL APERITVO (what’s not to love?!?!)
We are all familiar with grabbing a drink before dinner, but in my opinion, Italians do it the best. Il Aperitivo hour is when Italians meet up with friends or colleagues for an hour (or more) before dinner with the sole purpose of sitting back, enjoying good drink & food, and taking in each other's company. It's this beautiful transition where you leave whatever happened to you during the day and move into evening. I find that, more often than not, the end of my day just means me rushing to finish calls, frantically get dinner on the table, get my son to bed, and then collapse in front of the TV. My evenings are all but lost to me. Let's try to recapture that time!
Dolce Vita Challenge: I know it isn't always "convenient," what with the 18 bazillion things we all have going on with both work and family commitments, but what if just for one night a week (it can be Friday or Saturday), you meet up with friends for a casual drink & snack before having your respective dinners? There's no pressure of hosting a big dinner at your place or rushing everyone to a restaurant at prime time - it's literally just a drink (or 3) and some snacks. To keep it light & easy, go true Italian Aperitivo style (vs. the American happy hour, pounding beers or as many white wines they will give you- guilty as charged) and pair a light & bitter cocktail like a Campari Spritz, with a simple salty snack, like some nuts or potato chips. Sit back, catch up, and enjoy that beautiful transition to evening.
4) EMBRACE IL RIPOSINO
In Italy, especially in the hot south, il riposino is that beautiful time after a luxurious, multi- hour, multi-course (or just Monday's) lunch where you rest…aka take a nap! Everyone retreats to their room or a cozy chair and nods off for a bit. It doesn't last for hours, but it is just enough to let you recharge and be able to take on the rest of your day. I know it sounds crazy (mostly to us Americans) but hear me out - this might be the most genius Dolce hack EVER. Our kids have to nap in order to function - have you ever experienced a toddler who hasn't napped? It's literally hell on earth. I am just not sure why we decided, at one point or another, that we were above the nap. And then to make things worse, if we do nap, we feel guilty about it. Why should we feel guilty about taking care of ourselves & recharging our batteries on a daily basis? It feels like there is always so much to get done that a nap feels like a luxury we can't afford. Well, I am here to tell you - treat yo'self to some luxury!
Dolce Vita Challenge: In the middle of the week, in the middle of the day, take a nap! If you are working from home, as many of us these days, just schedule a nap as one of your "meetings." Why the hell not? If you don't work from home, consider a lovely Sunday nap. If you have kids, nap when they nap - yes, those dishes and that gigantic pile of laundry need to get done- but that stuff will always be there and will get done eventually, so channel your kids and take a little snooze - it can be pretty dang glorious.
5) TRY LA BELLA FIGURA ON FOR SIZE
If you have ever been to Italy, then you know that almost everyone looks amazing and pulled together all the time. This somewhat mind-baffling phenomenon comes from the ethos of “La Bella Figura,” which literally means “The Beautiful Figure,” but, in reality, translates to the idea of always putting your best foot forward, including in how you dress & present yourself. At first, my athleisure-wearing self rejected this concept as vain and a waste of time. However, after some pondering, I have decided the Italians are on to something. When you dig down to the root of La Bella Figura, it’s about self-decency, respect, and pride in who you are. I freaking love that - who wouldn’t?! Not to mention, the Italian sense of style is so influential for what I am trying to create with Casa Danu - incredibly chic, yet unfussy, with a touch of what I like to call “elegant excess” and always, always, always fun and playful. So, day by day, I am starting to embrace La Bella Figura….and have found it starts with wearing clothes that I LOVE and bring me JOY when I put them on. I am hopeful that I can create that same sense of La Bella Figura for you with our Dolce Vita Caftan & Coordinated Set, launching in early June!
Dolce Vita Challenge: One morning this week, instead of throwing on your regular uniform (whatever that may be), take a stroll through your closet and pick out that article of clothing that just makes you HAPPY when you look at it. Don’t worry about what you have to do/where you have to go -just wear what you love and see how it makes you feel!
I hope this list gave you some inspiration to test out what I like to call “Italian Mindfulness,” and begin to enjoy even the smallest moments in life.
If you test out one of the Dolce Vita challenges, please let me know how it went in the comments below!