A tasteful life in the leap year

The infection rate has started to climb again and containment measures are back in force to limit social gatherings. Without going into the pros and cons of this, every so often we’re bound to wonder how we can continue with a “lust for life” in the face of this historic juncture.

Wearing masks, often even at home; obliged to keep washing our hands as if we were Lady Macbeth; standing in single file, a measuring tape in our pockets to make sure we’re observing social distancing; teaching our children the necessary tricks (“don’t sneeze: if they see you, you won’t be back at school until Easter”); video conferencing afflicted by interruptions from restless children, lovelorn cats mewing over video link, connections less stable than a South American currency. Goodbye, my lover; goodbye, five-a-side; goodbye, fantasy football...

And yet, with the utmost respect to everyone who has lost loved ones to the virus, those who are having problems at work and those affected by the socio-economic consequences, I am convinced that we will not remember this period solely for its bad aspects. I believe that our innate “lust for life” will emerge triumphant in the end, like swallows hatching at the first hint of warmth. Even this time.

We Italians come from a culture that has always favoured restraint over exaggeration, elegance over enormity, conviviality over large numbers. For us, a dish of spaghetti with a flask of red wine is better than a rowdy beer festival with thousands of people. Excess, even though it can be found up and down the country, has historically always submitted to balance, refined beauty and moderation.

Along with an innate ability to bounce back and come back, adapting to difficulties and building on a unique way of living and relating to people. Making much out of little, making masterworks of scraps, finding opportunities out of necessity. In Tuscany, just think of our unsalted bread: the epitome of living tastefully, despite everything. Or the peasant farmsteads made of brick and marlstone: so much beauty in those spare, humble, purely functional building designs.

For this reason, we maintain that A Life of Taste is more possible and indeed more desirable than ever. We also believe that it can - like a sort of compass - help us find our bearings in these bewildering times, as we are forced to adapt to strange relationship dynamics, which are likely to become the new normal. Without cutting ourselves off, without losing heart, because if it’s true that the virus thrives on social contact, the instinctive search for happiness is even more infectious: we pass it to each other.

Maintaining perspective, taking the right measures, living tastefully, accepting difficulties and continuing to smile: once again, this is what will keep humanity going in its journey.