I’m short. Officially now the shortest one in my family since my 10 year old clearly took the height gene from her father. It’s embarrassing but I am getting over it. And I make up for it by walking at a ridiculously rapid pace on my stubby little legs. When I am going somewhere I am overcome with the need to get to my destination with little regard for what is around me. Here in the US, I fit right in as everyone seems to have that same philosophy. The last time I was in Boston I observed that about 90% of the pedestrians were looking down connected to headphones or cell phones and completely missing the sights and sounds of the city. Such is life in our fast-paced world. Not so in Italy.
Going for a walk – fare la passeggiata – is an event. There is rarely a destination. Eventually, you will go back home but until then it’s all about the surroundings and the company. The pace is slow – thanks to stiletto heels and cobblestone streets I imagine – but the conversation is continuous. The tradition of the afternoon stroll is alive and well all over Italy. In a big city such as Rome, the main shopping avenues are often closed to traffic on Saturdays and pedestrians fill the streets as families, groups of teenagers, couples and friends spend time window shopping, eating gelato and catching up. In the small towns of Italy, the Sunday passeggiata is the social event of the week. Everyone is dressed to the nines (babies in Burberry, grandpas in Armani) as they meander up and down the street, one that they have seen thousands of times before but still seem to explore as if it were the first time. They will stop and greet the shopkeepers, enjoy an espresso at the local bar and then return home hours later, having covered a total distance of a mile or so.
This week go for a walk – with someone and without your pedometer. Pick a place that you want to discover, not where you have errands to run. Go without a plan and without a time limit. Revel in the fresh air, the wonderful company and the importance of living in the present. I doubt that you will regret it and you can get back to your power walking another day.
Let me know where you are walking this week and what you discovered – I would love to hear about it!