Every culture has its own rhythms. We in the US have our 24/7, on the go-go. Spain has its siesta and late dinners. Italy has, well, Italy has Sunday’s decidedly off and—for better or worse—the weekly chiusura settimanale or “weekly closing.” This refers to the half business day a week (different from city to city) in which all or most food-related operations are open, but other commercial enterprises are closed. The second half of the day, the reverse is in effect. In Milan, the chiusura is on Monday. This allows workers outside the food industry to stock up for the week in the morning; and butchers, produce vendors, and bakers (those true heros of society) to run their errands in the afternoon.
When I first moved to Milan I hated this. In fact, I didn’t at all like the general idea that I couldn’t have what I wanted whenever I wanted it. The desire for immediate gratification seemed part of my very DNA. But I now know that it was not. As with many features of Italian life which I found at first irritating, this too has won my heart. I like living according to a weekly rhythm that breathes and has its own heartbeat. That speeds and slows according to human needs. That serves a common good. That requires one to leave the busy-ness that otherwise consumes a day and to join the rest of humanity in the more sane activity of procuring bread, fresh borlotti beans, mozzarella or ground veal—whatever you need or want—engaging in one-on-one transactions and amicable conversation at every stop.
It’s important to be able to say you are not available. Sometimes you just have to be closed.
Myself included. Here it is, Monday morning, and I’m blogging instead of laying in the day’s supplies. So I leave you now, to go in search of sustenance and to take the pulse on Milan’s citizenry this rainy Monday morning, before it all comes to a close. And my DNA is very happy about that.
[If you liked this post, you might also enjoy “Tranquility.”]