Madisson's Wanderings beach
The sea was clear with out any waves, and the shore was full of beach-goers.

Il dolce far niente” is a phrase that I thought was only used in “Eat, Pray, Love.” With its literal translation, “the sweetness of doing nothing,” this phrase isn’t only used in film and books, but can be heard throughout the streets of Urbino.

This past week I spent most of my time exploring. The Ducal Palace, an ancient Renaissance palace built in the 15th century for Duke Federico III da Montefeltro, is one of Urbino’s most well-known historic sites. This palace is full of art and culture, and as I was led on a guided tour, I was taken back through time, analyzing and admiring paintings.

I toured an archaeological dig site in Fossombrone, which let me walk along an ancient Roman road, observing the markings from the carriages on the stone. I saw ancient locations of shops and learned the history of the people there before me. I was there, walking on history.

I ate pizza while looking over the Adriatic Sea in an incredible town called Gabicce Monte, completely mesmerized by the view of the crystal blue water, absent of waves. I was completely immersed in the culture of Italy, but when I wasn’t learning about history, I was doing classwork for the actual study portion of study abroad. By Friday, I was both exhausted and overwhelmed.

At the end of the week, I finally had the opportunity to fully experience this sweetness. While many of my classmates decided to travel to places such as Venice and the Amalfi Coast, I decided to sit back and enjoy Urbino. It wasn’t until a new Italian friend said to me, “Why do you spend all of your time working?” in scattered English. “Take this and do it: Il dolce far niente.”

After a week of nonstop work and learning, I realized that I needed that. I needed my own “Eat, Pray, Love” sort of weekend.

I spent Saturday sitting at Basili, the local cafe I now frequent. As I turned the now espresso stained pages of my book, “The Boys in the Boat,” I savored the aperitivo I was brought with my countless Shirley Temples, which are surprisingly popular in Urbino. I watched children play in the streets and imagined myself creating a life of my own in the tiny town of Urbino.

I roamed the town, window shopped while eating various combinations of gelato – coffee and Nutella is my newest favorite combination – and enjoyed the locals at the Saturday market in the main piazza.

I spent hours in antique book stores, vintage shops and a local lavender market. I spend a lot of my time wandering, and even more of my time working. While I’m not sure I accomplished the mindset of il dolce far niente, I spent some time to myself, and it was necessary.

The entire mindset of the locals is peaceful. People stroll casually down the streets as if the word ‘hurry’ doesn’t exist. The entire lifestyle is put very simply: sweet.

Frolicking through Italy and enjoying the excitement of the nightlife is always thrilling, but sometimes we need the sweetness of nothing to appreciate everything.

Contact Madisson Haynes at

Madisson served as news editor for The Breeze during the 2017-18 year. She graduated in May 2018 and now works at National Geographic in D.C. with Global Operations in post production.