Aug 7, 2023

“Dolce Far Niente”: the Italian Secret to Relax, Refresh and Reconnect

Written by Mariateresa Romeo

When I approach vacation time, after months of rushing between deadlines, meetings, and commitments, I only want to return to my home in Sicily, disconnect, and plunge into the slow life of Southern Italy, made of long walks on the beach, evenings sipping wines on the veranda with my family and chats at the bar with friends. I also attend social events when I am there and do small trips to places I have never been before, but without following a program or an itinerary. I take things as they come and enjoy them.

Italians call it “dolce far niente”. It means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” It is the secret to an authentic and refreshing vacation. It consists of enjoying the place and the company you are with at that moment, without plans, schedules, and most importantly, without the urge to do something and be busy.

It is a state of mind you can achieve everywhere, whether you travel to an exotic destination or stay home on your porch with friends and family. It is not being lazy or bored. On the contrary, it requires you to choose intentionally:


The view, scents, and sounds of nature can help you regenerate yourself. But be conscious of where you want to spend this time. Do not force yourself to spend your vacation on a destination you don’t like or are not passionate about. Choose a place you fully enjoy the beauty of.


You don’t necessarily need someone with you, but if you decide to spend this time with others, stay away from drama, annoying and useless discussions, and complaints. Carefully select the people you want to have around you. The quality of this time depends also on the quality of your relationships.


This is the hardest step because it requires you to avoid your usual “plan and act” approach. It is okay not to answer emails and phone calls; your clients and coworkers can survive if you disconnect for a while. Spending time in a place without a specific plan can be beneficial. You could only check some items off your bucket list or do some of the recommended activities in your travel guide. Still, at least you had a rejuvenating experience or allowed yourself to enjoy the unexpected and unplanned. You can indulge in a beautiful place without sharing posts on social media or checking what others are doing on their vacation and see how refreshing it can be.

I embraced this idea of “dolce far niente” early in my career, and it helped me recharge, especially after or in between very intense and stressful periods, whether I could travel back to Italy for a couple of weeks or I had only a long weekend to spend not too far from New York City.

However, the more time you have to disconnect and enjoy this way of living, the more you benefit from it and return to work rested and re-energized. For this reason, although I value the benefits of taking one or two days off now and then, I think one of the primary forms of self-care is taking at least two consecutive weeks of vacation, if possible. It allows us to honor our deep and total rest needs, clear our minds from the usual thoughts and concerns, give ourselves time to reconnect, taking the distance from difficult situations to gain new perspectives, and creating a space to generate new ideas and resources.

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