Recently, we traveled to Florence and left the beautiful Riomaggiore behind. Besides the obvious physical beauty that the city has, the city has a pulse that is beautifully simple. The city itself is positioned in a cove that provides natural protection from pirates. Since it’s inception, the city does not appear to have changed much structurally. It is easy to imagine Riomaggiore citizens from hundreds of years ago traversing the steep staircases and confusing alleyways.
Riomaggiore has stark differences when compared to the other cities we have seen. The city has not seen much change over the years, especially when compared to Munich and Berlin. Berlin and Munich, with their organized public transportation systems, make it relatively easy for newcomers to move in and quickly learn how to live in those cities. Riomaggiore is more self-contained, probably with fewer families who move out or in. It feels very isolated in Riomaggiore, but not in a despairing way. Riomaggiore is the type of place where it is easy to forget what day it is because of how peaceful it is. There is a hustle and bustle just like any city, but it does not carry the same stress that the daily commuters have in bigger cities in Europe or the US. Also, the Italian gelato makes you forget just about anything on your mind.
The culture in Riomaggiore has shifted to become more tourism focused, which seems to have diluted some of the natural aura of Riomaggiore, but its charm is still there. The beauty of living a simpler life, such as working some of the grape farms we saw, is that relationships become more meaningful. In bigger cities, more and more people are using their careers as motivators for their big decisions in life. If your career is simple and unchanging, you have a larger capacity to prioritize relationships and people rather than work.
A downside to this lifestyle is that changing the lives of others and having a wide impact on the world becomes more difficult. However, if one’s world is his or her family and close relationships, then causing wide-spread change becomes a lesser priority. Much of these differing attitudes stem from the environment in which someone grew up. For students at TCU, there is so much emphasis on changing the world for the better, which is worthwhile endeavor, however there is something to be said for putting more focus towards the relationships that really matter in one’s life.
There is no correct answer to the question of life’s meaning, but Riomaggiore provides a great example of a way of life that is often unheard of in popular culture.