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The Art of Travelling like an Italian Woman

“[…] we can forget to live in the very moment we’re existing in. And sometimes, we don’t realize that we have the power to make each menial moment our own.”

It’s a sunny November afternoon in Firenze. The piazza steps are filled with students, textbooks scattered around as they furiously scribble into their notebooks. Parents watch closely as their young children chase each other around the square. Crowds overflow from the sidewalks to the streets, oblivious to the cars and Vespas that are honking and attempting to maneuver around them. Groups of both old and young move and stop, move and stop, eyeing each cafe window, vying for an empty spot. 

But there is one figure in the crowd that seems completely unphased and unattuned to the high volume conversations and energy around her. The Italian woman moves slowly through the parting crowds, as if she is about to enter in her own private dialogue with the world around her. Her vintage cashmere camel coat just grazes the floor of the market as she floats past each vendor. She carefully lowers her oversized sunglasses and inspects each pomodoro, carciofo, and asparago for a Sunday frittata. 

So often, we live for tomorrow. For tomorrow’s presentation, for Saturday’s brunch, for Sunday’s dinner. We run to the grocery store in a hurry, throwing on a pair of old sweats. No one will see me, who cares? – is the usual narrative that runs through my mind as I toss my hair into a messy bun. My mind and heart are both racing while I scroll through Instagram, speed walk to the store, and think of this evening’s potential run-ins while also simultaneously planning my outfit.  

And getting ready to travel anywhere, quite frankly, is the same. The anxiety of long lines and crowded spaces, screaming children, questionable food, not enough leg room, praying for the coveted empty row, paying extra for an overweight suitcase, etc. The only word I can use to describe this way of movement is frantic

A few months ago, I was packing for a short flight from Rome to Berlin. I called a Roman friend to ask her what she was wearing on the plane since I only had dresses and was accustomed to leggings and an oversized graphic tee. 

“A dress. Dressing up to travel changes everything.”

And she was right. I traded my biker shorts for a breezy linen dress, popped a notebook and pen into my carry on and was ready to go. For that brief stint of time in the air, I felt like I was starring in my own movie. Legs crossed, sunglasses on, with an open journal in my lap. Oblivious to the chaos, the paperwork, and conversations around me. 

I had made the moment mine. 

And as we flew above the clouds,  I was a solo traveler, who looked like she was going somewhere, without going anywhere in particular at all.  

Sometimes, we can forget to live in the very moment in which we’re existing. And sometimes, we don’t realize that we have the power to make each menial moment our own. To be checking off your to-do list in a flowy linen dress, while a train moves through the Tuscan countryside, or to walk through the crowded piazza, carrying bags overflowing with fresh market produce in a pair of white leather boots.  

Moving through the chaos of everyday life, like the Italian woman, is an art form. She views the world from her heart. She doesn’t save her favorite dress or favorite pair of boots for a special occasion, because life is the occasion in itself.