Italian slow pace (or ‘andamento lento’)

On my ‘How to be Italian’ page on Patreon (half-serious lessons on ‘Italian-ness’) I’m posting today about the Italian ‘slow pace’ for those who pledge at least $1,00 – please pledge or tell your ‘Italy-lover’ friends to do so 😉

In order to help you get into the mysterious world of andamento lento (slow pace) a ‘fact of life’ for us Italians like the sun rising and setting every day but draining and unnerving for the rest of the world – I’ll try to answer the following questions: how ‘slow’ is a ‘slow pace’? And in which context can you have a reasonable ‘slow pace’ without flipping out?

Here is a little taste of

Andamento lento or Adagio: the Italian ‘slow pace’

In 1988 Neapolitan singer and drum player Tullio De Piscopo presented his song, Andamento lento (‘slow pace’), at the Italian Song Festival in Sanremo.

There are at least two good points I’d like to make here:

  1. De Piscopo is from Neaples, a town which is considered the ‘Italian capital of expresso coffee’ and is also looked upon – at the same time – as the ‘Italian capital of slow pace’. It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Well, welcome to Italy, land of contradictions!
  2. Tullio De Piscopo’s song ranked 18th at Sanremo Song Festival in 1988 – which proves one of the most evident Italian truths: winning songs at the Italian Song Festival in Sanremo (67th edition in 2017) are rarely successful hits; whereas low ranking songs are most likely to make it into the storia della canzone italiana (the ‘history of Italian song’): every Italian has hummed De Piscopo’s Andamento  lento while taking a shower or riding a bike at least once in his/her life;
  3. The third point, totally non influential, is that in 1988 I was 18 years old (ARGH).
Buying fish at the Fish Market may take half an hour in Italy 🙂

Today we are getting into the mysterious world of andamento lento.

You’ve got to consider though that Italians living in Alto Adige – Südtirol (the efficient Italian region bordering with Austria up north) are very different from those living in Sicily (symbolizing here a generic southern relaxed attitude). However, I’m talking here about the ‘average Italian’ (me! – who, incidentally, live in central Italy). In medio stat virtus – that’s medieval philosophy saying, not me!

Anyway, a reasonable ‘slow pace’ in life goes between the Italian Adagio tempo marking (‘slow and stately’- according to Wikipedia – literally ‘at ease’, ‘ad agio’ – 66/76 bpm) and Andante (at a walking place – 76/108 pbm). Mark this: a ‘walking’ pace not a ‘running’ or ‘rushing’ pace. That’s how Italians walk into life, slow-paced.

To get into some (hilarious) examples taken from our every-day life just visit my ‘How to be Italian’ page on Patreon and pledge $1,00 😉

If you wish to know why I’m on Patreon and to download my free podcast, please read this post.

Grazie mille!


  1. Hi Simona– I’m longing for a slower pace. I’m such a busy-body and tend to fill up my days so I’m always on the run!! I think that’s particularly true of suburban moms here. It sounds heavenly to linger over a cup of tea or practice the cello without a rush!! What do you enjoy about your life’s rhythm?? xox

  2. Ciao Rhonda! Since I quit my job (I was working for a state institution) I no longer have to punch in 😉 So I guess I’m enjoying loose working rhythms at home. I can work either in the morning or in the afternoon which gives me such a sense of freedom! Besides I’m working a part-time job which gives me plenty of time to spend with my family and friends, to play (!), to volunteer and to do all those things meaningful in life. However, freedom goes with little income… This is why I’ve launched my new project on Patreon… I’m giving it a shot 😉 Hugs

  3. Simona, having grown up on the East Coast between NY and Philadelphia it has been an interesting transition to living in southern Italy. Some days I beat my head against the wall at the slowness of life. “What I have to wait 30 days to pick up the new car that I just paid for and is sitting in this showroom?” Other days, I stroll to the piazza, order a caffe macchiato and simply watch the world go by.

    • Hi Midge! Thank you for sharing your view (and life experience!) on the slowness of life in Italy 🙂 I guess that the ‘interesting transition’ was unnerving some times… It is for me… and I’m Italian 🙂

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