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Dolce Vita Firenze

La Dolce Vita isn’t just a term that can be pinned down in a dictionary. It’s more like a feeling, a vibe, a way of living that slips through translation as smoothly as freshly pressed Tuscan olive oil.


By ROBERT & KIMBERLY MURGATROYD

June, 2024



Dolce Vita in Firenze 

Once we exchanged the relentless American hustle for the sun-washed calm of Florence, Italy, this ‘DOLCE VITA’ concept transformed from a dramatic ideal in a Fellini film and crystallized into something tangible, vibrant, and real in our daily life.  In Italy, one quickly learns that life isn’t dictated by the continuous ticking of a clock but flows to a more serene rhythm, like a lazy Italian melody drifting across a piazza. 


Initially, as hustle-prone Americans, we did not step into this dolce vita gracefully. We recall trying desperately to navigate crossing Ponte Santa Trinita on the narrow sidewalks, filled with Italians leisurely camminando a braccetto,* as slowly gustando their gelato del giorno. We felt like shiny new Lamborghinis revving our engine behind 1975 Fiat 500s.


However, as the first few months passed, we slowly became observant that these moments of perceived frustration were in fact, hints of La Dolce Vita in our day-to-day life. These subtleties can often go unnoticed by busy tourists taking in the sheer presence of the Duomo. 


 

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Additionally, the moments of the sweet life can even be taken for granted by locals, as they see this way of life as normal. But for us, it was the awakening we needed. A nudge from above, that implored us to reconsider our pace of life and inspired us to enjoy the simple moments that we are blessed with each day.


We began looking for these moments, hints that La Dolce Vita does still exist. We found it in the simple gestures—the way local shopkeepers carefully wrap purchases in delicate paper, finishing them with an elegant seal that feels more like they’re wrapping gifts for Christmas Eve rather than a routine sale. Or the way that the barista crafts each caffe normale with the precision of an artist, treating each customer as if they were an old friend returning home. These moments aren’t trivial—they’re profound, deliberate acts of recognition and connection. They are La Dolce Vita.


Ponte Vecchio Firenze
Firenze, Ponte Vecchio at sunset. Photo Nick Abbrey

When you become a regular at the local Sant’Ambrogio Mercato, anonymity evaporates. A routine purchase of a tomato spirals into exchanges of stories, a sharing of recipes, and updates on families. This human exchange often ends with a small gesture, possibly a soffritto* or a sweet piece of fruit for you to enjoy as a gift.


The person behind the counter sees you not just as a customer but as a participant in the day’s unfolding story, engaging with us, looking us in the eye, and letting us know we are seen and valued. This way of life acts like subtle magic, coaxing us to slow down and savour each moment like a fine Chianti Reserve.  Italy teaches us to value not only the beauty that hangs on the museum walls of the Uffizi but also the beauty that unfolds in everyday interactions. We’ve learned that the quality of life isn’t measured by the list of achievements we tick off at the end of the day but by the depth of unplanned experiences felt and shared.


Embracing this Dolce Vita has sharpened our senses to the subtleties around us—the texture of hand-pressed paper, the robust fragrance of espresso mingling with the rustic scent of pastries, and the vibrant chatter in the markets.  Each day is a collection of experiences that remind us to breathe deeply and fully inhale life.


Here, life isn’t just lived; it’s celebrated, savoured, and shared. This gioia di vivere* has deepened our connection to the world and reinvigorated our sense of existence. The profound art of balance is another lesson that comes out of the sweet life—the Italian mastery of living a life where nothing is too excessive, not work or play. This philosophy, woven through millennia of cultural wisdom, shows us what it truly means to be alive and connected to the human experience.


We are also learning that true richness lies in the inter-connectedness of human exchanges, the simplicity and joy of daily rituals, and the celebration of every moment. La Dolce Vita is alive and well in Italy, but you must be willing to discover and nurture it. For us, it has found its way into our DNA and has redefined the essence of how we live and allows us to experience life in the full, vibrant color we are meant to.





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