America is all about being efficient with time. We use every ounce of our day for working. We rarely relax, leading us to binge on relaxation. We’ll spend weekends in the same spot in our beds endlessly watching movies, only to feel nauseous on Sunday night when the realization of another workweek sets in.
Once again, that is not the case in Italy.
Pauso pranzo is the time of day, usually from 1-4 pm, in which Italians rest and recharge for their day and night ahead.
Stores shut downs, restaurants close their doors, and everyone returns home to relax with their family.
To anxious Americans looking for late lunches, this is an inconvenience that the capitalistic world we come from is deeply confused about.
After being constantly lectured from Italian teachers and advisors that this happens everyday, it somehow still shocks me daily. Some days, I finally escape from a five-hour class session, only to want to visit a gelato shop, or grab a slice of pizza, only to see a sleepy town with doors locked and lights off.
Often in my homesickness for America, I find myself saying often, “I can’t wait to go to a store at three p.m. and not be turned away because everything is closed.”
This attitude of relaxation everyday for a small amount of time is foreign to Americans. The leisure scares us into wondering how anything can get done without a working lunch, or getting takeout food any time of day.
But slowly I am growing accustomed to my daily leisure (now mostly filled with doing homework). The emphasis on enjoying the simple act of living is nearly an Italian trademark.
I take this kind of cultural experience as my biggest acts of learning while I am here. We are thrown into a culture that has been building itself for hundreds of years, with certain importance placed on creating the whole person, rather than the working machine we are on our way to being in America.
Through this style of living, we are slowly seeing another path to the creation of ourselves. Italy serves as a reminder that even amidst the hustle of everyday life, everyone needs a moment to relax and enjoy your life daily.
Cultural norms like these remind me that this old culture is still wise beyond its years.
Hi! My name is Catherine Wheeler. I study English Writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. This semester I am studying Italian and journalism at Università degli Studi della Tuscia. In my free time, I love to read, cook, and travel.
Ciao! Mi chiamo Catherine Wheeler. Io studio di scrittura in inglese a Fort Lewis College di Durango, Colorado . Questo semestre Sto studiando italiano e giornalismo presso l’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace leggere, cucinare, e viaggi.