Tag Archives: Italian Traditions

How to Stop and Smell The Roses: 5 Things We Can Learn From The Italians

Italians are undisputed masters in so many arts. The art of La Dolce Vita, the art of adapting and finding a way out, the art of living in the moment and enjoying it. So for those of us who are stressed out and balancing the demands of the daily life while experiencing the deficiency of joy, why not learn a few lessons from the Italians?

5 Things About Life To Learn From The Italians

When you travel to Italy you may notice that Italians approach many things in life differently than Americans do. They linger in cafes and restaurants, they don’t rush to work with paper cups in their hands, they take temporary obstacles in stride and rarely complaint. To illustrate my point let me tell you an anecdote from my life in Italy.

Once I took a city tram in the center of Milan during the evening rush hour. It was a very nice autumn day and the tram was full of people heading home or going to meet friends for a nice dinner al fresco. All of a sudden the tram stopped in between two stops. After a short commotion and confusion the reason for the unexpected stop became clear: a car was parked right on the tram tracks and its driver was nowhere to be found. I mentally prepared myself for a long unpleasant wait in the crowd of angry people and started thinking about an alternative way to get home. What happened next was both surprising and amazing. Without much discussion, a few men who did not previously know each other got out, surrounded the car, lifted it off the ground, and voila… moved it off the tacks. They then got back into the tram as if nothing unusual just happened, the people in the tram started clapping and screaming “bravi” to the men, the conductor restarted the tram, and everything went back to normal just like that.

This short story opens a window into Italian values and attitudes and shows how camaraderie, can-do attitude, decisiveness, and upbeat approach to life help Italians turn temporary difficulties into adventures.

While not everything that Italians mastered can be easily adapted outside of Italy, their attitude to everyday life is something we can all learn to bring our own lives closer to the famous if idealistic “la dolce vita”. Here are 5 things Italians do that you can implement quickly to start upping your level of enjoyment and lowering stress every day.

1. Enjoy your food. In Italy a meal is a pleasure and a chance to relax.

Meal In Italy

As paradoxical as it sounds, Italians live according to the schedule. The schedule tells them exactly what and when they should be eating. Coffee and sweets in the morning, lunch with co-workers or at home with family in early afternoon (yes, many working Italians go home for lunch), aperitivo (or drinks with small snacks) with colleagues or friends between 5 and 7:30pm, and dinner around 8-9pm, either at home or in a restaurant. Eating on the go or running somewhere with a paper cup of coffee are almost anathema to most Italians, something they will do only in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Even if an Italian only has 30 minutes for lunch, that lunch will be a dish of savory freshly made pasta in a corner café with colleagues or friends versus gulping lunch while looking at the monitor. Italians prefer meals made of fresh local ingredients, freshly cooked, and immediately eaten. But most importantly in the eyes of an Italian a meal is a joy that should be shared with someone, because when savoring a good meal is combined with a good conversation it is truly one of the most wonderful yet easily accessible and inexpensive pleasures of life.

2. Meet friends. Connect. Share. Communication is the engine of social life.

Meeting Friends In Italy

In Italy networking is not something you learn in your business career or at a course about enhancing your communications skills and getting things done more effectively. Everyone in Italy has been perfecting the art of networking since childhood. That is why so many tourists visiting Italy are surprised at how easily they get involved in conversations everywhere: at the local pizzeria, at the shoe store, on the beach, or even on the street asking for directions. Themes discussed do not just span the ordinary weather and sports, they range from comparison of wines from different regions to relationship between Caesar and Cleopatra to spirited discussions about arts and latest exhibitions, and of course always popular soccer and politics. Far from needlessly claiming too much of our free time, these conversations in Italy lead to finding new friends, to gaining new knowledge, to broadening one’s horizons.

3. Live in the moment. Life is not a chase – It happens here and now.

Italian Beach Sunset Live In The Moment

Sometimes you just need to stop, exhale, and notice life that is happening right around you. Unlike Americans that are always in a hurry, Italians realize that opportunities are everywhere, and if you run too fast you will most likely miss them. They live with a sense that there will be time for everything. And this decreases the level of stress. Somehow even with their long siesta and with often being late Italians are not in a rush, and as a result they are much less stressed and happier than people in many other cultures. Italian culture places value on giving yourself enough time for everything: a meal, a nice walk, a non-rushed conversation, because this is what helps us balance all the demands that life places on us. Paradoxically, slowing down is a road to better quality of life and to faster progress in many spheres of life.

4. Make time for the joys of life. Quality of life is a priority number one.

La Dolce Vita in Italy

Italians know: for your life to become better you don’t need more money. In fact, trying to make more money and satisfy your ambitions, you will actually lower or even completely lose your quality of life. Italian way of life is to leave enough space for the important things, like enjoyment and pleasure. The schedule we mentioned earlier helps with that, by having all those pleasurable things already built in. There is time for morning coffee and a newspaper, time to spend time with family during the day, to pick up your kids from school or take a nap, meet friends for aperitivo (after work drinks) and so on. In other words, it’s not about living to work, it is about working to live. And live well.

5. Stay close to your Family. It comes before everything else.

Italian Family Photo

Italian families are a well-known subject of books, films, conversations, and even jokes. Close-knit, sometimes noisy, and very caring, an Italian family takes a bit of getting used to for non-Italians marrying into one. But those who can see past that end up with incredible benefits: a close circle of people who truly care about each other and provide support just when you need it most. Despite the stereotypical features of Italian families that Americans may have been exposed to in popular media, Italians are stronger, happier, and more emotionally anchored thanks to their families.

In Italy families are more than a bunch of people you see around the holidays, and more than just your parents, kids, and siblings. It is a community, which includes your close and more distant relatives (and in some cases entire villages) willing to jump in and help whenever you need them. A family in Italy is a whole support system, which is there for you no matter your age, status, of financial situation. They are the ones to land a hand during life’s difficulties and also the ones to join you for joyful events and celebrations. While Italians may complaint that their families are in their business too much, they certainly would not have it any other way.


Mother’s Day Special: A Little About Italian Moms

Mother's Day in ItalyMother’s Day is an important holiday, a day we take to express our love and make our moms feel extra-special, showering them with attention as well as gifts and treats. Mother’s Day is celebrated not only in the U.S. but all over the world, and of course Italy is no exception. Today we are going to shed a little light on what makes Italian moms and women in general so special (at least in the minds of Italians), and what role Italian moms play in the family as well as society.

If you ever visited Italian playgrounds on a weekend you would have noticed that mostly dads are there playing with kids, while moms are often chatting with their girlfriends on the side. This is not because Italian moms are too lazy to play with kids. In fact many of them dedicate all their time to kids and family, which is why every day off that dads get they often spend with their kids. Despite changing times, now like in the past, many Italian women with kids do not work outside the home. Nursery schools and kindergartens close around 1pm, while school day is over at 4pm, making it very challenging for Italian moms to do full time work outside the home. So moms care for the kids, but the term “care” doesn’t even begin to describe the commitment of moms to their kids.
Continue reading


Easter Traditions in Italy

Easter is an important time in Italy, not only from religious, but also from spiritual and family perspective. Learning more about Italian celebrations and events around Easter time and getting to know the traditions so meaningful and dear to Italians will bring you richer cultural experience when you travel to Italy. Continue reading


The History and Present of Venice Carnival

carnival venice venice carnival carnival in venice venitian carnival

Venetian Carnival, an intriguing mix of gorgeous masquerades, street fairs, high-end balls, and tourist craze set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice, is one of the most famous and highly anticipated events in the world. The Venetian Carnival in its present form has been celebrated since 1979 when Italian government and Venetian civic society decided to revive it as an attempt to re-ignite interest in Venice and its rich traditions. However, the original Venetian Carnival has a long history that dates back to the 12th century, if not earlier, and many of the traditions and glamorous highlights of today’s Carnival come straight from the Middle Ages.

Origins of the Venetian Carnival

Many scholars agree that Venetian Carnival has its roots in Christian tradition and that it has likely evolved as a way for people to indulge in life’s pleasures and have fun in the days before the solemn period of Christian Lent (a time of sorrow and reflection leading up to the Holy Week). One of the theories is that the Italian word “Carnevale” comes from the two Latin words “carne” meaning meat, and “vale” meaning farewell or goodbye, signifying the fact that during Lent people had to fast, avoid temptation, and give up life’s luxuries, in order to concentrate on prayer, reflection, and self-denial.
However, the Carnival’s history likely runs even deeper. Venice was founded by Romans escaping barbarians and built on the remains of crumbling Roman Empire. As such, it has deep roots going all the way back into Roman and even Greek history. Hence, Roman celebration of Saturnalia and Greek Dionysian festival before it are thought to have played a role in Venetians’ desire for a festival that allows people to be free from social norms. Saturnalia in ancient Rome was a time of complete break from normal social order and hierarchical boundaries, when masked slaves and Roman citizens alike celebrated with music, dances, symbolic acts, and orgies. Continue reading


Celebrations of Love: Venice Carnival and Valentine’s Day

As we all know, Venice is one of the few remaining cities that changed very little over the last few centuries. In the spirit of retaining it historic and cultural identity, Venetians keep many of their age-old traditions alive, the most important of which is annual Venetian Carnival. This year the Carnival will take place from February 11th to 21st. If you have never been in Venice during the Carnival, you should definitely make plans to go and experience the magic, enchantment, and breathtaking beauty of Venice as it was meant to be. February is a dull and dreary month in Europe, but not in Venice, thanks to the Carnival which brings out colors, celebrations, music and historic events onto the streets of Venice.

A tribute to Venetian extravagance and decadence, one of the most interesting introductions for the 2012 Carnival will be the Wine Fountain set up in St. Mark’s Square. Set up in front of the Doge’s Palace, this unusual fountain will cast out fine wines produced in Venice which will be offered to the public. Carnival will be opened on February 4th with the official toast made by this Fountain, and, after the opening toast, in a truly Venetian enchanting scene, everyone will be dancing waltz in the Piazzetta San Marco.

Another important part of the Carnival festivities is “The Angel Flight”, a traditional flight of a secret guest of the city of Venice, from the top of the bell tower of St. Mark’s down to the centre of the square. An internationally acclaimed star, whose name has not yet been revealed, will wear a gorgeous Carnival costume and the magical flight will pay homage to the events of the centuries past.

The Venetian Carnival will end on Tuesday, February 21st 2012, with the Rowing of Silence: a picturesque procession of ornate historical boats along the Grand Canal from Rialto to St. Mark’s Square with no artificial lighting. All the gorgeous palaces overlooking the largest Venetian Canal will be lit entirely by candles, and motor boat traffic will be prohibited, recreating the atmosphere of Venice in the middle ages and allowing us to see the magical and unreal Venice just the way it appeared to the travelers centuries ago.

Whether you manage to travel to Italy for the Carnival or choose to stay at home, we hope you don’t forget another important festival of Love that we celebrate here in the U.S. – The Valentine’s Day. And what better way to show your love than with a piece of authentic Murano Glass created right in the Capital of Romance, the timeless and beautiful city of Venice!
Murano Glass Goblet

To help you celebrate and announce your love we announce Special Valentine’s Day Sale from GlassOfVenice.

We invite you to take advantage of our limited time Valentine’s Day Special and get 15% OFF everything on our website when you use coupon VALSALE15 during Checkout until February 15th, 2012. Plus, as always, get free shipping in the U.S. on all orders over $100 and discounted shipping on all other orders.

To get your own piece of artistic Murano Glass, please see our wide selection of authentic Murano Glass at www.GlassOfVenice.com

Become our Fan on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter @GlassOfVenice to stay up to date on our promotions and updates.


Christmas in Venice: Romance, Art, Tradition

Christmas in Venice ItalyChristmas is an enchanted time, especially when it’s celebrated in the enchanted city of Venice. Winter Holidays bring special cheer and magic to Venice and we will give you a quick overview of Venetian celebrations and events this holiday season.

This year Venice set up its largest skating rink ever on Piazza San Polo surrounded by a traditional Christmas market. At the market you can buy Murano Glass, Venetian masks, and other local artisanal products, as well as try great local food and wine. When you get tired of skating and feel like getting a culture fix, you can visit a very interesting exhibition in Murano Glass Museum on the island of Murano, entitled “1861-2011: UN’ISOLA, UN’ARTE, UN MUSEO” (translated as “One Island, One Art, One Museum”). This retrospective exhibition dedicated to the long history of Murano glass-making offers insight into Murano Glass tradition and showcases almost two hundred of the most significant items in the Museum’s collection made in the last 150 years.

If you are in Venice over the Holidays, you will get a chance to enjoy some colorful centuries-old Christmas traditions honored here and in the rest of Italy. One of them is Messa di Mezzanotte, Christmas Mass that starts around midnight. After the Christmas dinner, families head out and walk brightly decorated streets to a candle-lit church, where choirs sing Christmas songs and create true Christmas spirit. Evoking spiritual traditions of the centuries past, festive and beautiful Messa di Mezzanotte is an event not to be missed.

After Christmas, all eyes turn to the New Years with its own share of colorful celebrations and interesting traditions. Make sure to eat lentils on December 31st to attract money and riches in the new year. Lentils symbolize coins, and, according to the Italian tradition, the more you eat, the more money you’ll get. On New Year’s eve, most Italians serve their lentils with either cotechino (pork sausage) or zampone (pig’s trotter stuffed with the same filling as cotechino). After this feast, head to Piazza San Marco, where New Year celebrations take place. The festivities focused on beauty and romance and entitled “The Love Celebration” will continue through the night and culminate with the spectacular fireworks over the Venetian Lagoon.

Whether you manage to travel to Italy this Holiday season or just enjoy reading about Venice and Italy, we hope you get a cue from Italians and remember to take a break to enjoy good food, festive atmosphere, art, and the company of friends.
Murano Glass Christmas Ornament

Happy Holidays from all of us at GlassOfVenice and best wishes for happy and prosperous New Year!

Holiday Sale Reminder

Remember to take advantage of our limited time Holiday Special and get 15% OFF everything on our website when you use coupon DECSALE15 during Checkout until January 1st, 2012. Plus, as always, get free shipping in the U.S. on all orders over $100 and discounted shipping on all other orders.

To get your own piece of artistic Murano Glass, please see our wide selection of authentic Murano Glass at www.GlassOfVenice.com

Become our Fan on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter @GlassOfVenice to stay up to date on our promotions and updates.