Monday, November 23

ode to la pausa

Now that I've adjusted to this new Italian way, I dread returning to American life. Things like 24 hours and Drive Thru make me want to run and hide. Today, for instance, is Monday morning.

Monday morning when the shops are all closed. For no reason that I can find other than the desire for more time... to do something else. Need more time? Learn from the Italians and Take it. There are the bars if you want a cafe, and you'll see windows are open. To air out the pillows and blankets. But Monday takes on a slower pace, and extension of Sunday. A gift of more time.

I find it so ironic. That so many things I used to think were convenient, there to make life easier, actually do not. Malls and super stores and pharmacies with 25 everyday and night. So much choice and FREEDOM! Because we can go and do and rush and cram more and more and more... we do. We must. There is not time to waste.

But here... It was hard to adjust to this new hum. A new pace spotted with empty space. Everyday there is a pause and everyone goes inside. From 12 to 4, give or take a half hour or two, the shops close their doors, seems there's nothing to do. Then on Saturday you see and incredible bustle, because we pause again on all day on Sunday. Sunday carries on through to Monday afternoon... 3 pm!

When you're not used to these times, it drives you nuts. You'll find yourself eating cans of beans for lunch. What a pain in the ass are the hours. But eventually you learn, when and where. There's less to choose but this is often much better, less time to take deciding! You learn the art of good enough and that's just fine. And you find so much time... to do other things! Yes, there are other things. These islands of time when you can just relax and be you.


  1. The first thing I noticed after returning from a European vacation was how impatient we are here in the states. You learn to slow down in Italy and upon returning, you note all the people waiting in line at a store and how they are stamping feet, sighing, muttering loudly about the wait.....
    It's "hurry, hurry, hurry" here.
    We don't even notice until we step out of it for a while.

  2. While i joke that Italian sietsa is the best idea in teh world, that would drive me nuts! I do my best puttering when italian shops close.

  3. Siesta is great! If you know how to use it. To relax.
    It's or was a tradition to go to have lunch at home. And after that to have a nap.
    Working hours are (were) longer, or later in the evening, so it's refreshing to have a nap after lunch.
    I can relax and be me. :)

    I do shopping here in Cairo at 9 am because the mall is almost empty.
    I get good service and staff is still morning happy.

    Have a nice day!

  4. I agreeish, I wouldn't want Italy to clone itself into the Uk or the USA but.....

    I have to admit that I get very over excited when I go home and go to shops on Sundays, ANY Sunday, or even at 11 o'clock at night. When I left the UK shops closed fairly early and Sunday closing was still law, so it is all still new and marvelous for me.

    I go positively dizzy this time of the year when all the big shops and shopping centres are open on Sundays.

    I think it is down to my utter lack of organisation and constant "oh no" feeling when six hungry cats are glaring at me balefully as I present them with pasta sciuta for their Sunday lunch and expect them to relive themselves in rabbit litter.

  5. I completely agree. I go to the small cities and smaller villages quite often.

    For the rest in the air and the peace in the spirit. Everything seems to be at ease.

    Including time. Now i am getting tempted to go there...!


  6. It sounds like heaven to me. We have way too many choices, and less and less time to do what we want to do the most.

  7. Hi Christine,

    I really enjoyed my visit to Italy (particularly Florence and Venice). The pace is quite different from the US but what got me were the flavors and foods! Sitting at a bar drinking espresso in the morning, realizing that things slow to a screeching halt in the afternoon and the passion and art of food preparation.

    I visited a food market in Florence and tasted aged balsamic vinegar for the first time; it was incredible. The seafood in Venice! I cannot find good espresso here in the US but I'm an urban guy and I grew up around pace and people; I have always found large cities just so identifiable for me. Perhaps it's that in a crowd, we are all the same; just people doing our own thing.


  8. I miss having less choices :) This really reminds me of living in Japan. You adjust in wonderful ways, don't you?

  9. I love siesta time. Nothing like a few hours in the middle of the day when you are supposed to be restful and quiet. I miss that. . . .

  10. It sounds divine.

    In the Makati section of Manila there are shops open until late at night and more places to eat than you can make it to.

    Even with all the bustle of a huge and crowded city there is still a very laid back and friendly vibe.

    I agree completely with Charlotte Anne in regards to the general impatience of Americans.

    Let's all just slow down and enjoy the view.

  11. Uh??? huh??? Americans in a hurry? Never.

    I think we'd have a tough time adjusting. It was kind of like that in Costa Rica when we visited for 2 weeks. Hard to acclimate.

    But simpler is better in the long run. I consider it a good day when we never have to get in the car to leave our property.

  12. It was really hard for me to adjust to the rhythm here. I can't tell you how many times I'd put in all the work to get the kids out the door, figure out where it was I needed to go, get there, and then find out that the place was closed for the next two hours. How many times I'd forget to buy food for breakfast on Monday on Saturday. Or even detergent to wash clothes on Sunday. I'd storm around bitching and moaning about capitalism and business practices and customer service. I finally realized that there's no point in fighting it, I was just going to have to learn to live with it. The SURPRISING thing was, that I'd learn to enjoy it. Honestly treasure the enforcement of down time.

    BTW, my dear M says that's exactly the argument of the Catholic church.

    We will move back to the states and I've been thinking a lot about the decipline it will take to maintain this pace. I don't think it is possible :(

  13. I love these pockets of time - so nourishing for the soul.


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