Learning To See The Beauty Of Taking Things Slow In Italy

Stephenie Thorne Umbra Institute Intensive Italian, Italy


September 19, 2019
Currently Studying at: Umbra Institute Intensive Italian, Italy
Homeschool: University of Denver

We arrive at the farm early in the morning. The heat is already upon us, beginning to burn the edges of my skin and making my face a rosy red. Yet despite this, the unpleasantness of the heat is quickly forgotten, when we make our way up to the house and see the lush grass and scenic views of the farm terrain. Two dogs run up to greet us as we walk by the hanging onions. It is quiet in contrast to the sometimes loud and crowded Perugia. Somehow, despite being a completely new place, it feels like home.

I immediately feel a sense of peace and slowness to the area. We are often caught up in work and want to rush things, but here at the farm, the goal seems to be the opposite. I am reminded of when a person once told me that sometimes it is important to take things slow and appreciate the beauty of the little things in life. I couldn’t think of a better place to appreciate simplicity than here. The calm pace is exemplified by our hosts, who greet us with kindness and smiles. It is no wonder that our two farm hosts were some of the original supporters of the “Slow Food” movement in Italy.

For those of you who don’t know, slow food is a movement started to fight against the rapid pace of today’s food preparation and instant gratification. If fast food prides itself on quick and impersonal service, then slow food focuses on really taking in the cooking process and getting to know the people behind it. If fast food is about using cheap ingredients from all over, then slow food is about naturally sourced ingredients from the locals. Essentially, it is the anthesis to McDonald's.

Both farmer hosts follow through on their beliefs in Slow Food, serving us a breakfast made with ingredients directly from the farm. After we finish our food, we take a ride up to the grape farm. We explore various areas in the grape farm, tasting a variety of grapes. Some are bitter and strong, others are soft and delectably sweet. I never considered myself to be a grape fan, but at the farm, I couldn’t stop grabbing more grapes to try. Each one was fresh and delicious, truly proving that putting extra care into growing fruit really does make a difference in how it tastes.

The trip is made even more interesting when we are shown how to make wine. The process is slow but beautiful and precise. As goats stare at us, our host crushes the grapes and puts them into a container. He pulls out a small meter that measures how much sugar is in, explaining when the grape juice will become wine. Seeing our host make it, I realized there is a certain art in winemaking. Although as U.S. college student, I have little experience with fine wine, I could see why many people appreciate the beverage.

After ending our tour by feeding the goats nearby some bread, we depart back to the house. As we await lunch, we discuss certain cultural differences and stereotypes between Italians and Americans. Immediately, there is a discussion about how much more chaotic Italy is. Not in the sense that things are loud or quick, but rather that things are rather disorganized and informal. The drivers here, for example, drive with a certain fast rhythm that is unfamiliar to Americans. Unlike us, they seem to drive much faster, and to put it bluntly, it sometimes seems like pedestrians have no rights here. Going through processes like getting our permit of stay was also difficult, not because of the requirements but because of how slow it was.

Yet despite all this disorganization in Italy, I am reminded that there is a certain beauty to the slowness here as our lunch arrives. It is fresh and made from ingredients from the farm. You can tell the meal took a long time to cook, but that every part was made with care. It is a stark contrast to the United States, where meals are often made at a rapid pace and with little thought. It becomes clear to me why many Italians are hesitant to jump on the fast-food trend. There truly is something amazing about the slowness in Italy.

Italy might be a little disorganized in comparison to the United States, and when it comes to things like technology, things may even feel painfully behind. But there is also a certain advantage to the slowness Italy has when it comes to things like art and food. In the United States, we typically like to rush through everything, not thinking about what we do and why. In contrast, you can see that in Italy, even the cheapest bars and Pizzerias, typically value putting precision into little detail. Furthermore, the food here is meant to be truly enjoyed and savored not just quickly chowed down. When I eat my lunch at the farm, I realize that for all the benefits of the fastness of the United States, sometimes it is important to take things slow and really enjoy the moment.


Italy Semester