Forced to Live Authentically in Piemonte
- Scritto da Diana Zahuranec
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The first post with the Blogging Piemonte group is here! Authenticity in Piemonte: how I perceived it. #BlogPiemonte
Let me explain about authenticity, first. It’s a loaded word, as I discovered as a student at UNISG (University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo) a few years ago. As students, we all knew that once you said this word in class, the professor would challenge your idea of authenticity – specifically, in tourism – until you were convinced the thing didn’t even exist.
“How can a visit to a winemaker be authentic if they’re showing you a cellar they’ve cleaned up just for you, if they’re pulling out all their bottles for you to taste that they wouldn’t have otherwise? If the cheesemaker takes you into their aging room, you’ve stepped into this sanctuary of authenticity and rendered it just another product of tourism.”
Basically, as tourists, we’re contaminated and doomed to ruin everything.
definitions from www.merriam-webster.com
• real or genuine
• not copied or false
• made to be or look just like an original (which contradicts the first two!)
And my favorite:
• true to one's own personality, spirit, or character (this is the one I’m talking about)
While I’m not a tourist after living in Italy for over 4 years, I’m still an outsider. But I think I can draw a line between my own living experiences and a tourism adventure, and I can say: I am living more authentically in Italy.
Living authentically implies an awareness, and usually a slower pace of life.
One of the biggest differences between living in Italy compared to the US is the lack of noise. Between the average Italian conversation and the motociclette (or the Vespas), I don’t mean that Italy is quiet (ha!). There is less of that other kind of noise, messages and promotions and the sort that seep into your head at every moment of the day, telling you to buy this, you need that, eat this way, do this super fun activity or you’re totally missing out. And it’s not quieter here because I’m not listening or don’t understand; I am listening, and I do understand.
Photo from Jay Mantri, CC
I understand it all, but the undercurrent in Italian culture feels less insistent than when I lived in the US. The pace of life is slower here, and that contributes a lot to finding awareness in your everyday actions.
I’m speaking from the point of view of someone with 2,000 hobbies and a wide range of interests, plus a great desire to pick up something else when it comes along – new activities, crafts, things to learn, clubs to join. The US excels at telling us that every single choice we make defines us. From your diet to your clothes to what you choose to do on the weekends, it all tells us who you are. Italy emphasizes the individual self and actualizing your identity a lot less. Schools don’t focus on afterschool activities so much, for example, and a lot of free time is spent with friends, usually surrounded by really good food.
I missed this level of active intensity when I came here at first. And sometimes I still do. Here's a secret about living abroad: you will forever miss something about the country you’re not in, whether that’s your birth country or abroad.
But now, I’ve been able to (or forced to) channel my energy and focus my interests on the things that matter. If I had been surrounded with a gazillion things to do, I would probably still be pumping my legs in place, not really getting anywhere, though I’d be having a lot of fun doing it and feeling busy. In Italy, I am no less busy or active than before – every moment of my day is accounted for – but it all goes towards a purpose.
Instead of flitting around among many interests, I’ve grounded myself in a few. Instead of my end goal to be busy or active, it’s now concrete, something I’m forming and creating. I would have never begun writing so much, for example, if it weren’t for these moments of slower and quieter living. Ironically, with less trends and gimmicks made to define who I am, I feel like I’m living on my own terms and more authentically.
Yeah, sometimes the slower pace of life in Italy and Piemonte is too slow, and I crave something that’s lacking. But you know what? On the other side of the pond, I’d be craving the opposite.
Photo from Death to the Stock Photo
About every month, the Blogging Piemonte group will meet to talk and decide on a topic we’ll all write about, from food and drink to travel and life in Piemonte. Follow along with the hashtag #BlogPiemonte!
Read up on what the others have to say about authenticity:
Eptrad: “That’s an Authentic Start!”
Turin Epicurean Capital: “Living Turin style”
Turin Mamma: “Why I Draw the Line at Using the Word “Authentic””
Wine & Truffles: “Authentic Living in the Alta Langa”
Living in the Langhe: “How to Become Authentically Piemontese in 5 Easy Steps”
Texas Mom in Torino: “Authenticity: The evolution of this Texas mom to an Italian mamma”
Simply Italiana: “Finding Authenticity as a Foreigner in Italy”
ItaliAnna: “Piemonte = Authenticity”
Bailey Alexander: “Save Yourself by Saving the Planet: the real benefits of growing a garden"
Are you a blogger who lives in Piemonte and writes in English?
We'd love to have you join Blogging Piemonte! Just send me an email at diana.zahuranec [at] winepassitaly.it.
It doesn't matter if you also blog in another language, as long as you post the Blogging Piemonte articles in English.
I love Piemonte’s food and wine, the city of Turin, and my proximity to the Alps! My goal and challenge is to see as much of the region as possible using public transportation, but if you have a car I’d appreciate the ride. My intro to wine was at the Univ. of Gastronomic Sciences, and I love visiting family wineries, plus discovering Piemonte's craft beer scene. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite wine, but Nebbiolo never disappoints (from Barbaresco to Ghemme). As for beer, the Birrificio San Michele makes an incredible beechwood smoked brew.