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Poutine & Pinot Noir - La Dolce Vita

By Lisa Lukye

For a very long time, I wanted to visit Italy. I had visited once before – very quickly – and it left me yearning for so much more.

So much so that, over the years, I had created a list of all the places I wanted to see across the country. In 2016, I took a few weeks to put it all together and ended up creating a two-and-a-half month itinerary.

Crazy, I know.

But I booked that flight as soon as I could because I wasn’t about to let Italy slip through my hands any longer. Then I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t make my trip so jam-packed full of stuff that I couldn’t remember anything by the time I got back home. I wanted to live my best life – the sweet life, La Dolce Vita – and to get it I had to go to Italy.

So that is exactly what I did.

While there, I tried to do as they do. (You know, “When in Rome.”) I hoped that I would learn exactly how to live La Dolce Vita by immersing myself in the Italian lifestyle.

I learned how to ride the trains and buses.

I learned that restaurants are not open all day (only part of it), and if you don’t eat your meals at the right times you might just have a growling belly by the time they open up at night for dinner. I call it “embracing the siesta.”

I learned that most people are good. I had so many people genuinely offer their help when I was lost or needed a ride. I also learned to be weary of everyone at first, especially folks trying to sell you a ride in a taxi.

I learned that this really is a small world. I met multiple people from Canada, some of whom I’ve actually spent time with since I have come back to the motherland.

I learned that wine is always cheaper than water… so if you’re on a budget, wine is the way to go.

I learned that whenever you see octopus or squid on the menu, you will never be able to guess exactly what kind of dish will be placed in front of you.

I learned to take time off – to sleep in and not worry about all the things I could be missing out on or doing (which is a BIG problem for me, even when I’m at home).

I learned that spa days are a necessity when carrying a 50lb bag on my back and a 20lb bag on my front. I also learned that, when carrying such weight, proper shoes are important. I also learned that I really need to learn to pack lighter. (I thought I already had, but apparently that was not the case!) It’s called self-care. I learned that this, above all else, is most important.

I visited mountains, beaches, and lakes.

I visited locations that were filmed in Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love, including Marcello’s apartment in Positano, Bramasole and the place where Julia Roberts eats pizza in Naples.

I ate everything I could, especially local specialties. I tried horse. And liver and onions. And rabbit (which the server placed in front of me, but not before saying, “Roger Rabbit! Hahhahaha!”).

I tried Limoncello, Grappa, and Prosecco. I toured vineyards and learned how wine is made and how they tend to the vines. I learned how to make pasta by hand, as well as bruschetta.

I learned that Italy has a lot of stairs, and that one will walk, on average, about 15km per day… easily. I also learned that, from all those stairs and walking, the weight you gain isn’t fat from eating everything in sight; it’s muscle on those thighs and buns. I had the best looking booty I’ve ever had when I left Italy, just saying.

I learned that I am so much more capable than I have ever dreamed of. I learned that life isn’t all about working for a paycheque. It’s much more than that. It’s about opening your eyes to the world around you and soaking it all in. It’s about loving your friends and family and them loving you back. It’s about feeling supported enough that you understand you really can go on a big, scary trip all on your own.

It’s about those majestic views, birds chirping in the rain outside your window. The taste of good tomatoes and olives, a glass of cold water after a long, hot day. The warm sun on your skin. The fresh, crisp mountain air in your lungs just before a snowfall. It’s the help you receive from a stranger and encouragement from friends you meet by chance.

Through all of this, I learned that I don’t have to be in Italy to live La Dolce Vita. The sweet life is right here in front of me, and I just need to open my eyes and my heart to see all the beautiful life around me.




To read more of Lisa Lukye’s work, visit You can also find her active on Instagram at Poutineandpinotnoir and Facebook at Poutine and Pinot Noir.

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