Life LessonsSeizing Opportunity

An Important Life Lesson I Learnt in Italy

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I’d never been to Italy before, I had weird misconceptions that the people were arrogant, they had no regard for the English and communication would be a challenge…

So a few weeks ago when I visited Florence and Pisa I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was categorically wrong; I loved the people, the country, the weather (mostly) and definitely the food and wine! Now I absolutely have to go back, I want to see all of Italy!

Life was different there. Everything was relaxed and slow paced. Even the guards patrolling the streets for terrorists were massively laid back, carrying their machine guns while helping tourists navigate their way around the streets.

The service staff in the train stations and restaurants looked at you strange if you were rushing. One time we waited about 20 minutes in a restaurant before anyone came over to greet us with a menu when we were the only people there. I got accustomed to asking for the bill/check half an hour before we planned to leave to prevent even further delay…

I live my life at 100 miles an hour. I wondered how they could make any money at these places with such a laid back attitude. Why does no one have anywhere to be? Why are there so many people in the wine bars at 10am on a weekday? Why is trying to have a productive day so ridiculous to these people?

Then I realised they were no doubt thinking the opposite about me – why are the English always in such a hurry? Why don’t they ever enjoy the moment and see the good in every situation? Why do they always think being somewhere else is better? Why have they even bothered to come and spend time in our beautiful country?


Culture is a strange thing. Each nations’ behaviours and beliefs are hundreds if not thousands of years old, they will never change the way they do things and neither will we. That is why travelling is so fascinating to me…

I think it is strange that in some countries people eat dogs, they probably think we are strange for not eating dogs. I find it strange that Chinese tourists come and take pictures of our ugly office building in rainy Manchester. But to them it might be beautiful, or maybe just interestingly different. Some things that seem strange at first are amazing once you experience them.

Then there are some things in other cultures that are so familiar you feel like you are at home, and you realise that we are all humans in this world together. We all have 2 arms and 2 legs, we all have fears, motivations and dreams. We all need the love and support of each other…

We all have comfort zones which we would love to expand. Travelling is the ultimate way to do this, it throws you into new cultures, new languages, and new ways of interacting with people that on the outside seem so alien to us.

Travelling opens you up to a world of knowledge and opportunity. You learn so much and adapt to new ways of thinking so quickly you feel like a child again exploring a new world for the first time.

There could be something amazing around every street corner, and there usually is.

When I first thought about what this post would be about I posed one question to myself – who is living the right way…?

Is it us who live at a fast pace, try to be uber efficient and productive every minute of every day or the Italians who seem to constantly live life at leisure, embracing every moment while still having the aptitude to be successful…?

Who is happier? Who is richer? Who has the most life experiences? Who has better life experiences?

Here are two quotes that seem poles apart, I am pondering them both at the moment. Maybe they are both BS, maybe they are both good advice for different circumstances, maybe they both mean different things to different people or maybe they both have deeper meaning…

As you can see these quotes aren’t from 2 idiots, they are from 2 legends, so again who is right…?

Maybe they both want to convey the same message? – To be productive take constant action, but proceed patiently and precisely whilst learning from your experiences along the way.

The more I think, the more I realise – it doesn’t matter who is right, there is not a right way to live life.

What matters is living a life of fulfilment and allowing yourself the opportunity to be fulfilled.

I want a life full of new experiences, I want to open myself up to the world and explore the mastery of different cultures everywhere. I want to experiment with different ways of doing things. I want to see new paths to success and happiness. I want to enjoy the wonders of the world with those I love and I want to embrace a variety of different ways to enjoy my life.

-Matthew Brown

What have you learned on your travels? I’d love to hear your story – leave a comment!

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0 thoughts on “An Important Life Lesson I Learnt in Italy

  1. Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more about the capacity for travel to broaden the mind & allow ourselves the crucial time & space to fully immerse in new cultures & experiences.

    Fundamentally I know what motivates & drives me to succeed, determinism & ambition, managing challenges & projects & an overarching sense of self worth & satisfaction from being the best I can be. However, travelling new places, meeting new people,, slowing down & appreciating a new sense of pace & relaxation only afforded from being so far removed from the day job is hugely rewarding, revitalising & enables inquiring minds to receive new stimuli which improves overall wellbeing & happiness.

    With that in mind, I need to stop putting off my trip to Iceland & make it happen. Alongside Japan, New Zealand, Paris, Portland, Canada, return trips to Italy & New York etc…

    1. Wow that’s a great to do list! And a nice variety of places, cultures etc. Glad you enjoyed the post. You’re right, no matter where and why you are travelling, whether you are learning, exploring, working, relaxing, whatever it is always worthwhile for many reasons. My next trip is Madrid , that will definitely be more of a break rather than all the sightseeing that we did in Italy!

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