The Physical Environment and the Italian Life

 beach in Calabria, by Piero Morello
beach in Calabria, by Piero Morello

How the Physical Environment Can Influence the Quality of Life

I remember the first time I visited my then girlfriend at her college campus in the state of Indiana and the thought of my lovely sweetheart in all of her collegiate glory is still vivid in my mind’s eye.  However, I also remember the vast flatness of northern Indiana (specifically, South Bend).  In fact, as soon as I stepped off the plane I needed to re-orient myself because my right hemisphere wasn’t processing why I could see for miles and without interruption – a truly mind blowing experience at the time.
Visiting the midWest as a 19 year old vis-à-vis growing up in New Jersey, attending a university in New Hampshire, and spending a few summers in Calabria, I both knew and expected that geography and climate ought to change rapidly (that is to say, travelling a few hundred feet by foot or a few miles by car) but it wasn’t the case in South Bend, Indiana where a one dimensional plane ruled the landscape.  And I still feel an existential nausea that even Jean Paul Sartre would be proud of every time I think of that aforementioned Midwestern location.
I mention landscape and climate because I think variations in geography can actually contribute to the good life, especially in regard to food.  Take the province of Calabria in southern Italy where micro climates are abound and one can travel thousands of feet above sea level in a matter of minutes; here the differences in geography have led to significant variations in language, culture, and food (though I’m not espousing any sort of geographical relativism).  For example if you go on a food tour of Calabria you’ll find different interpretations of basic dishes such as swordfish with lemon, pasta with eggplant and cheese, and even street food such as arancini, crochette, pizza, and gelato, every few kilometers.  Moreover, the various dialects found in the region will often vary, in extreme cases, from village to village (this is changing as the younger generations head to University and consume mass media) as will the temperament and disposition of long time villagers.
So, is the above another lesson in why you ought to live like an Italian?  Not really, rather it’s a casual observation on how micro-cultures/climate/food can all contribute to a sense of existential bliss and happiness.

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