One in an occasional series of interviews
with those who try to “live Italian” wherever they are.
Lenora Spatafore Boyle has worked as a Speaker, Life Coach, Option Method Mentor, and Workshop Leader for the past 20 years. Every September, she leads the Italy Retreat for Women to live la dolce vita on the Italian Riviera and Tuscany. She grew up in an Italian-American neighborhood in West Virginia surrounded by 34 first cousins. Married to an Italian-American, she is the mother of two adult children. She blogs at Italy Retreat for Women and Be Happy Life Coach.
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Q: Living “Italian”. . . Is it a good lifestyle or the best lifestyle? Why?
A: It’s the best lifestyle. In the DNA of those who live in Italy, even though there are troubles and challenges, they know how to enjoy the moments in a day.
In Italy, you experience the best life has to offer. You soar beyond the ordinary and there are always surprises: Like finding the local chefs cooking in the street one night, followed by a parade and dancing in the street. The flavors of Italy imprint indelible memories into your heart. The fragrance of pesto or tomato sauce, the sweetness of lemon trees, grapes, basil and other herbs fills the air. You can taste the fresh mountain air or the salty air of the Mediterranean. Air so fresh, like a new morning after a rain.
In Italy, your heart opens, mind expands, freed from too many ‘shoulds.’
Q: Where are you from in Italy?
A: My four Italian grandparents are from Calabria in Southern Italy. My two children and I have our dual citizenship with Italy, and have U.S. and E.U. passports.
Q: What does “living Italian” in the U.S. mean to you?
A: Living Italian is living la dolce vita, “the sweet life.” This is all about enjoying an enriched life and living a happier life. It is going on adventures, making life at home sweeter, having fun with friends and family, cooking together, walking together, learning together—all in the spirit of la dolce vita. ‘Living Italian’ is transforming. Cooking Italian food together with family and friends, with some Bocelli or other Italian music in the background, drinking a red wine, and sitting and eating together, is the best way to “live Italian” in the US.
Q: What nurtures your Inner Italian?
A: My philosophy is that whatever we put our attention on grows. I want to live in Italy for months at a time, so I focus on all things Italian. It’s an obsession, but a good one!
I’m studying the Italian language, meeting once a week with friends over lunch to practice speaking, and once with a teacher. I listen to Rai Italian TV on satellite. I am an officer and board member in our local Italian American Club. That group sponsors The All Things Italian Street Festival in mid-June in Fairfield, Iowa. I read blogs from Italy, talk to my fellow Italophile friends about Italy travel, read and study books about Italy—memoirs, historical novels and travel books.
I insist on cooking with certain ingredients imported from Italy. The most important food items from Italy include extra-virgin olive oil, Parmigiano or pecorino cheeses, capers, olives, and San Marzano tomatoes.
I watch Italian cooking shows on Food Network or The Cooking Channel even if they are re-runs. A few of my favorite shows are “Extra Virgin,” David Rocco’s “Dolce Vita,” and Giada’s “Everyday Italian.”
Q: What Italian movie, or movie set in Italy, do you most like? Why?
A: “Il Postino.” Excellent story line and scenery of Italy. I love that the postman who is not educated, befriends Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, who is exiled to this small island for political reasons. He begins learning to love poetry, and starts to write so he can win the heart of a woman.
Q: If you could live in one place in Italy for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
A: This is a very difficult question. If I have to choose right now, I would say Liguria or around northern Tuscany near Lucca. From here, I can reach mountains, beaches, and all around the Tuscan area pretty easily. But, again, I am not sure yet. I would rent for several months in one area and travel in a circumference from there. Then another time I would rent in a different location, and do the same exploring one to two hours from my home base.
Q: Last Italian meal. . .what would it be?
A: Farinata a most delicious savory flatbread, for an appetizer, which is chickpea flour mixture, poured into copper pan and cooked in a wood-burning oven. I would include the primo (first dish) of pasta of any kind with basil pesto sauce. For the secondo, I would eat branzino (sea bass) fresh out of the Mediterranean, baked or grilled with capers, olives, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and locally grown extra-virgin olive oil. Creamy panna cotta with fresh berries on top for dessert.
May we all live la dolce vita, the sweet life!
Do you “live Italian”? Or do you know someone who finds la bella vita in each and every day?
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