Driving on the A3 autostrada from the Reggio Calabria airport to the village of Pellegrina (a tiny Comune di Bagnara Calabra) my mood changes instantly. I’m greeted by a penetrating sun, flowing sea breezes, and intoxicating smells of earth. The greeting has come courtesy of Calabria, the terra of my parents and the very foundation of my soul.
Yes, I’ve been known to wax philosophically about Italy and especially the southern provinces, but I really can’t resist and especially after a long visit. Our most recent visit to Calabria ended a few days ago and I’m still jet-lagged and teary-eyed. We spent our days living as ordinary Italians in a village situated on the western coast of Calabria (near the sea and mountains). We ate our meals with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends and allowed our skin to brown via the Mediterranean sun. We become slaves to the sea and filled our bellies with tomatoes, fish, eggplant, bread, pork, cheese and fruit sent, seemingly, directly from the Gods. We picked up on the attitudes and philosophy of living shared by all Calabrians and enjoyed blissful mid afternoon naps, strolls through ancient villages, and the simple concept of enjoying life in the present and without references to past or future time. In sum, we lived romantically yet fiercely grounded in the everydayness of Italian life.
Living like an Italian for a few weeks reemphasized the simple concept of enjoying life and living a rich, yet minimally elegant, life. For us here in the United States we need to try a little harder to live the life described above but it’s certainly possible. We hope, then, that everyone can enjoy (even just for a few minutes a day) living like an Italian regardless of geography.