La Dolce Vita

If you have been in Italy a few times and wish to avoid the usual tourist traps, it might be fun to “do as the Romans do,” no matter where you might be visiting.

Every town and village usually hosts a number of annual sagra or celebrations. Celebrations for the Patron Saint of the city or for their local products (fig. 1) or activities (fig. 2). Sagras attract thousands of visitors from nearby regions. These events are fun and filled with unexpected moments and are rarely discovered by the usual tourist. 

February is time for Carnevale, celebrated for weeks until Ash Wednesday. Spontaneous celebrations occur everywhere with children and adults dressing up in their favorite costumes (fig. 3) as they happily wander around town. Getting purposely lost and ending up in an unknown village (fig. 4) can be a wonderful experience, as long as one is comfortable driving Italian-style!

Watching people go by (fig. 5) might be a great past time, but nothing can be more rewarding than a good shopping expedition al centro (fig. 6). The downtown shopping districts of Rome, Milano, Firenze, and many smaller cities are a mecca for the persistent shopper who knows to keep an eye out for saldi, the end of season sales when real bargains can be found. Another very Italian way of shopping is the ubiquitous mercatino (fig. 7), where the price of all the merchandise is open for discussion!

If the weather allows, finding a beach along the coast (fig. 8) would be a great way to spend the day along with a few hundred other people.

When lunch time arrives, walking into the Alimentari, local shop, (fig. 9) can be really rewarding as this is the place to find prosciutto, salame and cheeses often of local production and usually of excellent quality. If you happen to visit Ariccia, south of Rome, you will be able to try their porchetta (fig. 10), the best pulled pork sandwiches anywhere around.

Italians are always ready to take up a good cause. Protesting (fig. 11) and strikes are as frequent as sunny days, but it is a good idea to avoid them since these events can get dangerous.

Art is always around when you are in Italy and artists are often on hand (fig. 12) with their creations. An original piece of art is often better than a thousand words so, look carefully and take it back home with you if you find a true gem! La dolce vita is easy to find in Italy.