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Love, Italian Style: Che Gioia Vivere

April 20, 2013 Carlino's Restaurant no comments

“Italians use the phrase Che Gioia Vivere to describe every experience as one to be savored”

To the French, it’s joie de vivre; to the Italians, it’s che gioia vivere. Either way, it means the same thing: the joy of living. For Italians, the phrase describes the way they embrace every experience as one to be savored. From great music to fine art to outstanding food, every Italian considers certain pleasures a birthright. Love, Italian style isn’t just an ordinary romance; it’s seeing the romance in everything.

Art in Italy

If you were to list the world’s most exquisite artists, Italians would be represented more than any other culture. Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Botticelli, Michelangelo and others changed the face of visual art and sculpture. The Renaissance began in Italy’s studios and libraries. One reason for this artistic flowering is Italy’s natural beauty, but part of it might also be the Italian psyche. To create something beautiful, an artist must first be sensitive enough to see beauty. Their eye for beauty didn’t keep Italian painters and sculptors from unstinting realism, though. The simplest horse drawings in da Vinci’s notebooks had an earthy, muscular presence along with their grace.

Art in Italy has never meant frescoes and sculpture alone. Every building, landscape or wardrobe is another occasion to make something beautiful. From vintage Venetian Carnevale masks to the latest Milanese fashions, opulent Italian style is a delight to wear and to see. Unlike the heavy, brooding Gothic architecture that evolved in other countries, early Renaissance architects designed piazzas and public buildings filled with light and clean, simple lines. These Italian artists in plaster and stone paid homage to the simple elegance of Roman architecture and added their own sophisticated polish. Modern Italian buildings still evoke the grace of their Renaissance roots because Italians still appreciate the beauty of a Mediterranean sun slanting through Venetian glass windows.

Magnificent Music and Movies

No other country could have created the pageantry and passion that is opera. Combining the best of a stage play with music as memorable today as it was when it was written hundreds of years ago, opera is still dominated by the Italian influence. That Italian gioia di vivere makes itself known in every soaring aria. Like all Italian art forms, opera combines refinement with a rustic charm that shines through in comic operas.

Opera isn’t Italy’s only contribution to great music. Great Italian, Italian-American and Sicilian-American performers like Louie Prima, Connie Francis, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra brought Italian passion to everything they did. The legendary Tony Bennett is still thrilling new generations of fans.

From Federico Fellini to Roberto Benigni, Italian filmmakers have become famous for their richly complex movies. Kaleidoscopic art-house films and emotionally moving masterpieces like “Life Is Beautiful” are equally emblematic of Italy’s thriving and varied movie industry.

Great Italian Food

An Italian dinner doesn’t just fill you up; it fills your senses. Peppers, tomatoes and fresh greens let you feast your eyes before you taste the first courses of your meal. Even the textures of crunchy bruschetta or creamy mozzarella in an insalata Caprese contribute to the diner’s delight. The Italian love of food is an appreciation for how it pleases every sense. Home cooking – or restaurant cooking that comes from the heart – is better than any overly precious plate of nouvelle cuisine to an Italian because it’s made with love.

Every Italian believes a meal is incomplete without at least a little time to savor food, wine and conversation – even for a quick lunch. Even when pressed for time and grabbing a quick bite, Italians chat as they eat. Whenever possible, friends and family gather for dinners, turning them into convivial events. As great as the food tastes, it’s improved with good company. It’s okay to leave food on the plate because you’re busy talking and laughing; Italians believe it’s more important to live in the moment. Dessert is just another reason to spend time in the company of those you love best, so linger over that slice of tiramisu.

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