What Have I Learned From the Italian People

Venice Hotel owner photo by Margie MiklasEvery time I visit Italy I learn something new from the Italian people.  Certain aspects of  life in Italy  have made an indelible mark in my mind, changing my perspective on life in many ways.

Maybe more than anything else, I have been inspired by the hardiness of the older Italian men and women. No wonder Italians average lifespan is longer than that of  Americans.  According to the 2015 statistics compiled by the World Health Organization, Italians rank #6 in the world with life expectancy at age 82.7 years for both sexes.

An Italian woman in Colle d'Anchise, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasItalian people know what hard work is and are not afraid or unwilling to do whatever it takes to function in their everyday lives. In many places of  Italy, their houses are built into hillsides, which might offer great views, but also necessitates walking up hundreds of uneven stone steps every time they go anywhere.

Staircase in Matera - Photo by Margie MiklasIn some small villages, even if they own a car, they may have to park it on a street, 200 feet below their house, and walk the rest of the way.

Woman walking uphill in Dolceacqua, in Liguria - photo by Margie MiklasThis means that they do this every day, in all kinds of weather, and carrying anything they have bought, or needed to bring when they left their homes. In other places, their homes may be along the street, but the street could be on a 30 degree incline or more, as well as the ten other streets they must maneuver to reach a bus line, the chiesa ( church) or small alimentari (grocery).

Perugia Centro storico photo by Margie MiklasThis has always been their way of life though, so they know nothing else and do it without complaining or asking for help. Spending time in Italy and observing these older Italians has definitely made me think twice before complaining over trivial inconveniences, such as not having a close parking spot at the supermarket.

Woman in Longano Photo by Margie MiklasAnd the other thing I’ve noticed after talking with them, is that they are very proud of their age. When I saw an elderly woman dragging a grocery cart up the steps behind her in La Pigna, the historic center of San Remo. I stopped to talk to her. “Quanti anni hai?” I asked her. “How old are you?” With a smile, she proudly answered, “Ottant’anni,” “Eighty years old.”

San Remo in La Pigna photo by Margie MiklasI love learning about the Italian people, and whenever I visit Italy, I have to say that aside from Italy’s natural beauty, its historic monuments, the amazing food, and the authentic “made in Italy” articles, for me, the main attraction are the people.

What about you? What have you learned from the Italian people? Has it changed your life? I’d love to hear your feedback, so please share your own experience and leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.

If you like this, you may be interested in more stories about the Italian people in my books about my travels to Italy. Check them out on Amazon. Grazie.





23 Responses

  1. Khasab

    Nice article, fantastic pictures collection. One things we know about the Italians that they are very friendly peoples.

  2. Debbie

    My grandmother (who came from Naples) was exactly like that. No matter how old she got she cleaned and cooked for 12 people and that was just on Sunday. I get it. She use to tell me I”ll close these eyes when Jesus is ready to take me” and to the very end that is how she lived.

  3. Manja Mexi Movie

    This post exudes such a lovely sentiment and love for Italy that I clicked ‘follow’ without hesitation. I’ve been living in Italy for almost four years. What I have learned from Italians, especially my amore since he is closest, is that it’s okay to treat yourself, since if not now – then when? Another thing is patience, something that I’d never connect to Italians before. If you need to sit in a Roma traffic jam, patience is the only way to be. These are just the first two things, I’m sure there is more. Looking forward to travel with you!

  4. stellalucentellc

    I saw this in the little town of Pescocanale when I had the privilege to stay in Abruzzo one summer with a friend’s cousins (it’s not even on the map, and you have to go through Capistrello, the town next to it to get to it). We were up in the mountains and that was when I realized that almost nowhere in Italy is the land flat! It was wonderful to see the townspeople of all ages walking through the town going about their daily lives, always with a “Buon giorno” to me and my children.

  5. Victoria

    It always amazes me how everyone is able to walk around the hills of Italy. Love this post. Thanks for sharing!

  6. fkasara

    Wow, those hills! In Liguria are especially hard to climb!

    Concerning the lifespan, I think it helps also the fact that we eat less processed food.

    • margieinitaly

      I agree that the Italians eat much healthier than Americans, using fresh food as much as possible. Thanks so much for leaving a comment!

  7. menchu4901

    Ah, yes, they’re like mountain goats, also just like the Greeks who live on those volcanic islands. It does keep you fit and helps you to appreciate the physical beauty of some of these places. I take it you are also becoming fit just through your daily life there. ^_^

  8. George Miklas

    Wow Margie…good food for thought. American lifestyle seems to be so rich and full of convenience…but is it really just an entitlement mentality . I don’t know, just sharing some free-thinking.

  9. imarancher D.

    I was raised in Miami, Fl. The flattest part of a flat state. When I went to West Virginia I nearly lost my mind. To walk into a house on the supposed first floor and be hanging off the side of a hill when I opened the back door, arghhhhh. It did indeed tighten up the calf muscles! It was good training for becoming a nurse but it solidified my decision to live in Florida the rest of my life. Usually when people refer to old people they mean 20 years older than they are. That would make the Italians you speak of part of the Greatest Generation. Even though we were on different sides of the shooting they had the same outlook on life. Namely, it is tough, keep your chin up and keep moving. And they did. Remember my 107 year old grandfather going up and down the flight of stairs to feed his beloved ducks? We put in an elevator for him but no, that “car” made him dizzy (moved at a snail’s pace). Up and down the stairs twice a day, 107 years old (or 117 if you believe the US Government). Those people that came before us were really tough, I mean REALLY tough. Those hilly towns you are visiting were probably mountainous before the old ones started stomping them down. . . . Bonnie

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.