This New Book Captures the Simple Pleasures of Italian Summer

Sure, you’ve heard of la dolce vita, but do you know of the Italian il dolce far niente? Translated, it means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” It’s that blissful feeling that washes over you when you allow yourself to simply sit still or move unhurried, perhaps in the company of good friends or family or even strangers, not looking at your phone, not thinking about what the next day will bring—just enjoying the beauty of the present moment, wherever you are. Of course, you can try and do so while on a coffee break at your office, but it’s a lot easier to capture that sentiment when you’re in the lush landscape of Italy. And that’s exactly what the travel photographer Lucy Laucht has done in her debut book of photography, Il Dolce Far Niente: The Italian Way of Summer, now on sale.

Il Dolce Far Niente: The Italian Way of Summer, out June 18, published by Artisan books

“In a world that’s busier and noisier than ever, I wanted to explore this philosophy of il dolce far niente and ask what can be learned from this gentle way of being,” Laucht tells Condé Nast Traveler. “I think it speaks to a uniquely Italian way of moving through life.” The book depicts the hallmarks of an Italian summer: orange-ruby spritzes and zucchini flowers, tanned beachgoers under umbrellas and unwinding on sun loungers, and impeccable views of that ever glistening sea. But there are also delightfully unexpected moments caught on camera, like a nonno proudly holding up his marine catch of the day in Naples, and a teenage couple stealing a kiss on the streets of Sicily.

With their nonchalant subjects and relaxed tableaus, Laucht’s photographs possess that summery calmness in all its forms. When shooting the book, it was only natural that Laucht spent a lot of time in Italy along its coast and on its islands. “My gaze has long been drawn to the human milieu of a summer beach,” she says. “I love the way a country’s maritime fringes reveal so much of the national character.” It’s no surprise then that the country is an ideal subject for this study, given the innumerable seaside towns and gorgeous beaches that punctuate Italy’s roughly 4,900 miles of Mediterranean coastline.

In the pages of Il Dolce Far Niente, Laucht’s photographs invite readers to (metaphorically) dive into its gorgeous Italian scenes. Additionally, Laucht includes insider tips for each of the locales she visited during the making of this book—like Capri and Puglia—and even a recipe or two. The excerpted photographs below are accompanied by commentary provided by Laucht, who is still teaching herself how to live il dolce far niente: “Ironically, reminding myself to slow down is an ongoing practice. I’m curious by nature, and so I’d rather be out observing, camera in hand, than relaxing on a sun lounger!”

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