Traveling to Italy for a medical conference gave me some time to consider the ways of the old country compared to the new. The Italians still value old world craftsmanship. They are proud of their native artists, scientists, architects, stone masons and carvers. They are proud of their natural resources and talents including the natural beauty of their country, fashion and design, marble, textiles, automobiles, and food culture. The classic food offerings include regional olives, wines, cheeses, pasta, cured meats and other artisanal dishes. In spite of being a small country they have a big appreciation of their culture’s contribution to the world stage
Italians live simply. Eating simply, they enjoy local fresh food much more than we do as Americans. Many Americans are trying to get back to an aesthetic that values small artisanal, local, seasonal foods and crafts rather than industrialized commercialized foods and products.
Italians take an afternoon rest. They don’t call it “siesta” but essentially it is a mid day break where many stores and restaurants are closed from about 1:00pm -4:00 pm. It is a time to take a long lunch or nap, meet up with friends for an aperitif, snack on some light foods and enjoy some light conversation and relaxation before going back to work. What a great way to honor the rhythms of human life by allowing time for daily rest and relaxation.
Even the classic Northern Italian Aberol Aperitif might be healthy for you. Aberol is made of gentian, rhubarb and cinchona. The classic Aberol spritzer is made with prosecco, a splash of soda water, an orange slice and maybe some bitters. These herbs are a classic combination of digestive and eliminative medicines. Gentian and bitters are good for the liver. Rhubarb can move the bowels and cinchona is good for the stomach, malaria and varicose veins. It’s certainly an old time medicine meant to help the digestion.
Each country and culture has its brilliance and magic. Each part of the world has learned specific things about living on Earth according to its temperament and inclination. Each time I travel, I seek to soak up the mysteries, the magic and the special offerings each culture and region has. Italy has much healthy living, beauty and good food and medicine to share.