If there’s one Italian tradition I love the most, it has to be the ritual evening “passeggiata”.  Fare un passeggiata literally means, to make a walk.  It simply wouldn’t be Italian enough to take a walk.  Oh no.  Italians own that walk.  They make it.

Every evening around sundown, Italians crowd the piazzas of every major town and city, and simply walk.  Not in the American sense of, I need to get my 40 minutes of “exercise.”  No, these people wouldn’t not be caught dead in the casual shoes, the spandex-laced uniforms of the American Workout.  They are dressed to impress.  High heels.  Suit jackets.  Hair coiffed and makeup in place.

And they stroll.  They strut.  They look casually with superior disinterest into gorgeous
window displays.  They wander aimlessly over thousand-year old cobblestones, arm in arm, gracefully swaying hips and all.  All the while, staring blatantly at each other, critically assessing, warmly appreciating, and openly searching.

How does this lovely parade culminate?  Well, with an aperitivo, of course.  A Negroni, a Spritz, a glass of Prosecco. Some kind of alcoholic pleasure designed to make your mouth water- to make you crave something salty, something more substantial than the sweet, quickly darkening evening air.  All this to prepare your body, mind and soul… for dinner.

Italian 101: Fare una Passeggiata

16 Responses

  1. Jennifer Avventura

    Hilarious! I love how you’ve said the “American Work-Out,” I certainly get looks when I’ve gone out for a 6k. I think now the locals are used to the fact that I like to ‘work-out,’ but none of them actually work out … just an evening passeggiata for them! Cute post!

    Reply
    • Joanie Karapetian, Italian Wine Geek

      Thanks for commenting! I was just in Italy with a super-athlete from Las Vegas who ran every morning. He said he got a lot of strange looks from people while running. I said, “Yes. Because you are RUNNING. They want to know what you’re running from!” After I taught him to say “Salve” so he could greet people, he said they were much less confused by him. They probably still thought he was crazy, though! 🙂

      Reply
  2. fabio motta

    and you should MAKE a passeggiata in Bolgheri soon! not in summertime, better from october to may… all is quite and beautiful between the tuscan walls… no prosecco or spritz but a glass of smooth, elegant red from our hometown

    Reply
  3. The Blissful Adventurer

    It is also about walking in the right direction. I often walk against the flow of the passeggiata so I can beat the Italians to the bars and to dinner. I know this is a punk-ass American thing to do, but I believe my 6’5″ ghost white complexion, comfy shirts, and poor Italian are not nearly enough distinction so I go ahead and really look like a dork…aside from this it is the greatest cultural tradition in Italy IMO…

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  4. Angeline M

    Thank you for the lesson in Italian and in the culture…sounds a lot like Mexico too. In times past, the girls walked around the plaza in one direction, and the guys walked in the opposite direction….the better to see each other 🙂

    Reply
  5. colorsontheroad

    I’m not sure about the dressing part of the analysis, but all the rest is totally true…passeggiare is a real social activity, it includes a lot of meeting and talking to people! In the area where I live spritz is certainly the top aperitivo, but personally I would prefer a dry white! Nice post!

    Reply

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