Living ‘La Dolce Vita’ has become synonymous with Italian culture, good vibes, and embracing life’s luxuries.

Translating to ‘the sweet life’, there’s little wonder that those hailing from Venice to Sicily are living longer, more fulfilled lives (have you ever met a Nonna that isn’t full of energy?) - and that we should all be striving for the same mindset - even if the UK is lacking a little in the temperature department.

In a bid to shake off the severe absence of summer and the grumpiness that comes with it (it’s June, for goodness sake), I headed on a five-day trip across Milan and Lake Como to find out how I could inject a little more dolce vita attitude into my everyday.

Step one: Revel in style

While I’m no stranger to being the most outlandishly dressed in any room, Italy is the perfect place to show off your style. It’s home to some of the world’s leading designers, and I made it my mission to live like a local. As you look around, no one is underdressed, which means I was pulling out my best frocks and making the streets of Milan my Met Gala.

Of course, my environment had to ooze style too, so I checked into the Bulgari Hotel - one of Milan’s most opulent stays for the ‘it’ crowd, and the hallways are doused in the fashion house’s famous diamond jewellery, and floor-to-ceiling Zimbabwean marble.

The five-star oasis, built on an 18th-Century palazzo and situated on a private estate, is nestled in the heart of Milan’s luxury shopping district, Brera, and every detail oozes luxury. Think pillow menu with seven different options that can be hand-delivered to your room within minutes type-of-luxury.

Its Bulgari Suite occupies the entire fifth floor, with 4,000 square feet of living space, its own rooftop terrace, a wine collection, a kitchen packed with Miele appliances for your private chef, and branded cashmere on the bed for the humble price of 16,500 euros per night.

Naturally, it didn’t leave me surprised when I entered the downstairs garden terrace for a 25 euro Aperol Spritz and there was a Bridgerton season three premiere happening on the grass, among a sea of suit-clad men who had ditched their Lamborghinis out front.

“This was the lifestyle I was born to have”, I muttered in jest to my friend, as we basked in the sun and weighed up whether we could justify a second round of arguably the most expensive drinks either of us had ever purchased.

But, this was my dolce vita era, and the Italians were right, immersing myself in an other-worldly lifestyle made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and above all, relaxed. Unfortunately, I now have to find a way to come up with the next Microsoft in a bid to sustain it.

Step two: Shop small and eat local

My favourite thing to do on any trip is to peruse the supermarket aisles for the most unique flavour of Lays I can get my hands on. But not today.

Italy has some of the most popular cuisines in the world, and for good reason. It’s simple, each region has its own take on dishes, and most importantly, it’s made with love. That’s why I enlisted the help of every Italian I know to help dodge the tourist hotspots and point me in the direction of traditional trattorias where I’d let the chefs give me their recommendations.

What surprised me is how much there is to offer beyond pizza and pasta - from risotto alla milanese (a buttery take on the rice dish infused with saffron) to a comforting polenta balota (polenta dumplings filled with cheese, native to Lake Como), all made with the freshest ingredients.

However, if you like to stick to what you know, Assaje is the perfect local pizza joint, packed with post-work diners - and a proper Italian welcome in the form of lots of free Limoncello. That’s what living la dolce vita is all about, creating connection and appreciating a leisurely meal away from Netflix and the sofa.

The stories shared across the bar, the education about the local area, the neighbouring dogs wandering through like it’s nobody's business and simple al fresco settings all make a case for ditching the dingy speakeasies of London for good.

Step three: Embrace nature

Being a city-dweller, there are few opportunities to pause and soak up some fresh air - or even notice your surroundings at times.

Other than the simple pleasures of outdoor dining, heading to Lake Como was a prime opportunity to get lost amongst the mansions and basque in the bright pops of pink on the magnolias, surrounded by 146 square kilometres of blue waters.

The best way to see as much of Lake Como as possible is by boat. It’s relatively inexpensive to rent a boat and drive yourself around (you will quickly become a ferry-dodging pro), from the sprawling hills of Bellagio to the base of the Swiss Alps at the top of the lake. If you’re brave enough to take a dip, there are plenty of wild swimming spots along the way.

Even out in the middle of the lake, you can’t help but admire the level of craft that goes into Italian architecture. From impeccable topiary to detailed murals on the side of homes (some of which belong to the likes of George Clooney), it felt refreshing to notice the little details and feel genuinely interested in the history behind them.

If you’re not a water fan, there’s also endless mountainous hikes and tiny Italian villages to visit where you can get a taste of hidden corners reserved for the locals, that’ll leave you in so much awe you won’t even bother getting your phone out for Instagram.

Step four: Enjoy every moment

Italian culture has such a huge focus on relaxation and self-care - something many of us in the UK notoriously reject for life often gets in the way.

‘Living for the weekend’ has become so normalised in British culture, and it’s hard to believe ‘Sunday scaries’ don’t actually have to be a thing…we just let it happen.

I’m very much a 9-5 and 5-9 worker so stopping to chill can seem like a treat, but in the name of la dolce vita, I deleted Slack, emails, and anything that could distract me from my phone. I set a time limit on social media apps and vowed not to post until I returned home.

Instead, I opted for hours of people-watching, reading, and exploring hidden nooks of Italy instead of rushing around, following an itinerary, and living life through a screen. While it might seem like a minor action, it sparked a big change.

My mood was improved, I felt energised to do more - immersing myself in the culture and chatting to locals felt easier - and I’ve come home with more memories.

I now feel inspired to continue bringing a dose of dolce vita into my existing day-to-day - sure, I won’t be sat on the sandy beaches of Sardinia permanently anytime soon (thanks Brexit), but it’s helped me realise life doesn’t always need to go at 120 per cent and sometimes doing nothing is just enough.

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2024-06-01T06:11:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd