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  • Take It Easy Italian Style
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    JULY 17, 2005 - This week Pope Benedict XVI, on holiday in the Italian Alps, suggested that everyone, especially those who live in cities, take a vacation to meditate and contemplate life's meaning. The Italians will be doing just that in a couple of weeks because most of the country takes the entire month of August off. They'll be heading to the mountains, beaches - or even the United States to take it easy and get away from life's mundane worries. Really, the Italians are great at maintaining stress levels, and Americans could learn a thing or two from them. Here, a few tips from the Boot on how to relax:

    Play games. Even adult Italians have their diversions. Walk into a sports bar in Italy any day of the week and you're likely to see a bunch of grown men playing Scopa or Briscola, Italian card games. They'll throwing back shots of espresso and playfully cursing one another like teenage boys. At holiday time, just about every Italian family brings out the Tombola or Italian Bingo. The Neapolitan version is the most interesting with its risqué images to go with each number. These games bring out the kid in everyone and provide a much-needed distraction when it's time to unwind.

    Be social. Americans are always running from one place to another without a minute to spare. But whenever I'm in Italy, if I run into friends on the street, we undoubtedly will pull over and head to the nearest bar or café for a gelato or aperitif. We chat about our day and linger over our delicious treats. And then we go wherever we were supposed to be going earlier. My body even reacts to this slower paced life. My stomach is almost never tied in knots when I'm back in the Motherland. No one is in a hurry, so you don't have to be either.

    Make love. The Italians might be making fewer babies than ever before, but they're still enjoying themselves between the sheets. Italian women achieve the most orgasms - with 61 percent reporting satisfaction - of the world's women, according to a recent study by the Durex firm, makers of condoms. Known for their sensuality, Italians have long thought of sex as a natural tranquilizer for a weary soul. It's a great excuse to spice up the love life.

    Take a walk. Most Italians walk in the evenings after work and dinner everyday. They pass through their town's piazza, say hello to their neighbors, get their blood circulating, and take in the fresh air. With every step they take, the stress of the day dissipates. Any exercise will do the trick, as long as you don't overdo it. So, get moving.

    Catch some rays. Doctors around the world have warned of the damage that the sun can do to your skin and health. But Italians believe that a little bit of sun can change your whole disposition and that a little glow will keep you healthy. So, lather on that sun block and put on a hat, but don't stop going outside completely. After all, doesn't everyone need a little sunshine in their life?

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