If you want to take a trip to Italy without stepping on a plane, all you need are three little words: dolce far niente. This Italian lifestyle translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing,” or as Rome native Sophie Minchilli—blogger of Rome with Sophie, Italian food tour guide (alongside her mom, Elizabeth Minchilli), and author of the upcoming book The Sweetness of Doing Nothing: Live Life the Italian Way with Dolce Far Niente—explains, “A state of complete idleness or blissful relaxation. Italians have figured out a way of being in the moment with such joy and blissfulness that they are not ‘looking forward’ to anything else.”
Sounds like a dream come true, right? It doesn’t mean completely unplugging and taking a sabbatical in the woods. With dolce far niente, three main pillars from Sophie’s book are family and friends, food, and leisure. Whichever category you choose, she explains it’s all about “bringing small changes to your life that will then lead to a bigger change in the long run.
Below, she shares five tips for achieving dolce far niente, one blissfully relaxed day at a time. Plus, we have a handful of new recipes throughout for your perfect aperitivo hour (a dolce far niente staple) from Sophie and her mom, Elizabeth, plus two of our Cravings twists on some classic Italian snacks.
Take a Break and Slow Down
“It might sound like a cliche, but really learn to take a break. Turn off your phone, don’t answer those emails, and go on that holiday you have been dreaming of. Just think of Italians and the fact that they actually take the whole month of August off to just sit at the beach, never thinking about work once. We need to learn to slow down again, live life like our grandparents used to. Instead of rushing through life to accomplish as many things as possible and check them off our list, we should be taking it slowly, appreciating each day as if it were our last. Some of my favorite ways to slow down are taking long afternoon walks or having an endless Sunday lunch with friends or family.”
Go Outside for Aperitivo Hour
“Once or twice a week, meeting friends for aperitivo—usually outdoors in Italy—after work is a wonderful way to wind down, detach from the chores waiting at home, and enjoy a moment of pure joy with friends. Aperitivo can be a small snack to calm your hunger before dinner, or a substitute for dinner. Sometimes snacks and drinks leads to dinner! But aperitivo isn’t so much about the food or drinks—though it is almost always delicious—but rather a way for people to connect with each other while disconnecting their brains after a long day at work. If you choose not to go out and instead invite people over to your house at the very last minute, don’t worry too much about anything fancy! A good bottle of wine, some olives, and crackers will make everyone happy.”
Set the Right Cooking Vibe
“If I’m cooking for myself, I put on a cute vintage apron, light some candles, and play Italian music from the ‘60’s. Everything should be simple, though, like a plate of pasta that takes 10–15 minutes to make, or a ‘pizza party’ where we order pizza in and everyone is happy. Kitchens are usually the heart of the home in Italy, so if someone’s in the kitchen cooking, so is everyone else. Even if they are not helping, they are there for support.”
Dress to Impress—Even For Errands
Sophie says that Italians also live life by the phrase la bella figura, which translates to “the beautiful figure.” It means to dress well and make a good impression—even if you’re just going to the grocery store. “Italians like to look good whenever they leave the house, even if it’s just to buy a carton of milk. They truly believe that life is better when you look better, simply because you will feel better.” Perhaps try our new Dolcezza robe?
Find Pleasure in the Ordinary
“In order to live life to the fullest, I truly believe it’s important to make every day an ‘extraordinary’ one by finding joy in the smaller things—a coffee at the same place every morning, eating a plate of gnocchi every Thursday, or enjoying the warm sunlight on a bench for 10 minutes a day.” For a triple threat of dolce far niente, maybe we’ll try all three at once.