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Live The Sweet Life!


By harrisjensen - Posted on 09 August 2012

Tuscan Living and The Slow Food Movement

Show Us How To Feel The Sweetness Of Life!

Live La Dolce Vita!

Soldo Vito In Empoli, Italy Brings Tuscan Beauty Into His Food And Life!

You Can Too!

by Harris Jensen, MD

Editor, Good Day Journal

Tuscany seems magical to the world.  Ten million visitors come to this area about the size of Colorado every year, and for good reason.  Something special is happening here, as it has for 3,000 years.  The people have a love for the sweet life (la dolce vita) that is infectious!

The sweet life?

Yes.  They find sweetness in great food.  

They cook lean meats and vegetables with aromatic herbs, and use olive oil to carry the wonderful bouquet of flavors to your taste buds.  Eat Tuscan stir fried vegetables with Tuscan pork as I did this June, and your taste buds want to stand up and applaud!  Mix paste of artichoke with thyme and other aromatic herbs freshly picked, and another taste sensation will fill your mouth! 

More!  Your taste buds want more!

No high fructose corn syrup, no sick "overfull feeling" and no high fat and high salt and high sugar ingredients.  This is natural food, slowly grown, slowly prepared, and bursting with flavor...and well overflowing with goodness.  The stuff is fresh and tastey.  This isn't American fast food.  This Tuscan food makes you feel full and feel good!

The goodness of nature is getting inside you.  

You aren't just eating Tuscany, you are thinking it, drinking it, living it.  Here's a video introduction to a Tuscan farm I recently visited where I learned more about living "The Sweet Life."

 

My family was invited by the family of Soldo and Katerina Vito to spend some time at their villa in June.   We found them on the site Vacation Rental By Owner.  We happily accepted their invitation.  My family had heard about Tuscany for years.  But was that just marketing?  Just hype?  What is there so special about Tuscany?  What is La Dolce Vita anyway besides the name of a movie?

Their farm was located right in the middle of the greatest places to visit in Tuscany.  They are located just outside of Empoli, and to the west is Florence, east is Pisa with its leaning tower, south is the medieval walled town of San Gimignano, and north is Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo.  Here's the map on that:

 

La Dolce Vita is Italian for "The Sweet Life."  It is a saying that captures the spirit of Tuscany.  The Tuscans love life and all it offers...from wonderful flavors in well prepared food to beauty in the arts and sophistication in literature.  They make it look easy, this way of living with nature in a tradition thousands of years old, but it is a rich tradition that takes some thinking.  Not alot of thinking.  But Tuscan beauty doesn't happen by accident, whether it is a meal of chicken and vegetables, well dressed people in the fashion capital Milan, great sculpture like the statue of David in the art capital Florence.

Here is a link on Wikipedia to give you a head start on the wonders in Tuscany:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuscany

But for a moment, just think about the great wonders that come from Tuscany:

1. The greatest sculpture in the world.  Look at Michaelangelo's David, and there's no better sculpture IN THE WORLD.  See it in Florence.  It moved me to my core when I saw it as a naive 21 year old country bumpkin from North Dakota in 1988, and it moved me to tears when I saw it in June, 2012 when I was 53.  So magnificent.

2. The greatest food in the world.  Are you kidding me?  Go to youtube and search tuscan cooking or do the same on Google.  People all over the world are immitating the Tuscan way of bringing the freshest, most wonderful flavors into olive oil and into their food.  Their secret? Olive oil!  Fresh herbs! Fresh everything, carefully chosen.  Much thought and much passion goes into what they select and how they cook it.  The health benefits of this diet are great and well studied.  The Mediterannean Diet lowers the rate of heart disease, cancer and parkinson's disease at least five percent!  See this article from the British Medical Journal: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2533524/ They have the greatest meals of lean meat, vegetables.  And then there is Tuscan salads and cheeses and wines.  The list goes on and the world comes here to learn how they do it.  Olive Garden restaurant in the United States even has a cooking school in Tuscany.  The food is good for the environment and the body and our health...and it makes for happy people too!  Tuscany is also where the Slow Food Movement was started.  See this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_Food  What did I do to learn about this great food?  I went to Soldo.

3. The greatest minds in the world.  There is, for starters, the brilliant minds that fired the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.  Men like Leonardo da Vinci, born just 20-30 miles away from Empoli, where Soldo lives, in the town of Vinci.  It's a cute little village nestled in a hilly area full of olive trees and vinyards.  See the Wikipedia article on him.  Leonardo was a master in painting and literature and sculpture and inventions.  He invented the plane, the car and the parachute for instance, hundreds of years before they could be built!  Actual physical productions from his drawings I think are there in the museum at the house where he was born.  A man of sheer genius.  See this Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci        and this youtube url http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_t9DP-pkRk

4. Great literature.  Greatness in literature?  Think of Dante who wrote the Inferno and other works, defining for millions how they think of heaven and hell.  Think of Machiavelli, who wrote brilliantly about evil in words that still scare the hell out of me when I read it.   

5. Great painters.  The list is long.  There is Botticelli with Birth Of Spring, Leonardo and The Last Supper, and many others. (See Wikipedia, "Tuscany.")

6. Great explorers.  Amerigo Vespucci came from here.  He discovered the Americas.  Galileo came from here, he discovered the earth revolves around the sun.  Are you amazed yet? No?

7. Great architecture.  Pisa has its leaning tower (they fixed it but it's still leaning, hey it's Italy), Florence has countless domes, the first academy of art (David is there), and village squares with sculptures that are copied the world over, not to mention all their fountains!  And they have a column named after them, the Tuscan Column.  The earliest one dates back to 2,500 BC.

8. Great friendship.  It's not in the Wikipedia article, but we found it in Tuscany.  These people see the beauty in life and in friendship and family too.  Soldo and Katerina welcomed us as one family welcoming another.  Warm, genuine, happy to share the best they have.  They were gracious and inviting in an unassuming, uncommercial way.  When you spend your life studying beauty and having all this beauty around you, why not live in a beautiful way too?  That's not what they would say, but that's what we came away thinking.  It's not something you might hear too much about in America now days, but it's how many people in America lived before the industrial revolution. 

9. Great traditions. Leonardo and Michaelangelo are not just "artists," they are part of the tradition of Tuscany.  They lived and worked here.  Their art is still appreciated and remembered.  There are many traditions for living life as a kind of art, appreciating what kind of beauty you can bring to your simple everyday life, in Tuscany.  Leonardo and Michaelangelo are two "guiding lights" in this way.  But these traditions are not dogma.  Tuscany doesn't "force" its ideas on others.  They invite you to come and enjoy their traditions and if you like, you can live some too!

Speaking of which, come with me and enjoy a walk in Tuscany with our guide to loving the sweet life, Soldo Vito!  Here's some youtube videos...there are nine in all.  They can all be seen at:  http://www.youtube.com/user/Jensenfamily1218?feature=watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hoped you enjoyed these videos and learned a little about how to bring some of the Sweet Life into your life! 

HJ