Seduzione, as the Antidote to “Love at First Sight”

Time, Courtship and the Art of Seduction: Using your head–and not just your heart when it comes to AMORE

The Italian Art of Living Well

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Yes, there is such a thing as un colpo di fulmine (love at first sight) and in rare cases, the smitten duo turn out to be all they claim to be as time marches on. Those are the success stories, albeit rare. More often a better description is chemistry at first sight, which is something that clouds our judgement. Don’t get me wrong, relationships can’t go beyond platonic if chemistry is lacking; however, there also needs to be the kind of substance and harmony that only comes with the time it takes for each person to reveal (through word and deed) who they really are.

Enter the art of seduction, the master model of which was Giacomo Casanova. While Casanova did teach us few positive strategies regarding winning another’s affection, his was mostly a negative model, because of his “usa e getta”, disposable approach to wooing lovers. …

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In Defense of a Monthly Festa (for Mental Health!)

Super Bowl

Writing bills isn’t the only thing you should be doing on a monthly basis. When my kids were small, I occasionally let them take a “mental health” day off from school. It was an occasion to spend some unexpected time hanging out together having fun, even having a picnic on the living room floor if the weather was bad. I would guess that in each of our memory banks we look back on those unexpected celebrations as important treasures that balanced our otherwise routine lives with the fun and laughter we needed to replenish and be even more productive than we were before.

But have you kept up those regular “mental health feste” in your adult years? They may just do you a world of good, by lightening your mood, revitalizing your energy, and strengthening your social life. Need I say more?

Well today, I have been cooking all morning in preparation of America’s big night tonight—Super Bowl Sunday. Of course I sing along to my favorite arias while creating mini-calzioni; broccolini e salsiccia; chili con carne and more—all with my typical Italian take on whatever holiday gives me reason to invite a few good people over to celebrate. Yes, it is important to fare festa, to dot our lives with celebration, especially if you are prone to:

  • Working non-stop
  • Leading a solitary lifestyle
  • Having a serious personality
  • Gravitating mostly toward intellectual pursuits.

Italy celebrates life full throttle; from the simplest joy of an onomastico (unfortunately, there is no “Saint Raeleen Day”, but that just gives me something to strive for J )—-to the grand occasions in a person’s life that bring a new level of personal growth.

Festeggiare. Throw an impromptu party. And do it regularly. The brevity of life begs us not to wait. I admit I don’t (yet) know what teams are playing; to boot I know next to nothing about football. But I do know how to intuit when it’s time to break out of the box and have some fun, especially when I have been absorbed in a long stretch of work on a project that makes me forget how much time has really passed.

So today—throw a festa.

If you can’t come up with an official occasion, INVENT ONE. You are the sole author of the life you wish to live. Live it happy and decorate it with busts of care-free fun.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, e buona festa!


Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is author of “Living la Dolce Vita” (Sourcebooks) and “Lemons into Limoncello” (HCI Books). She is a columnist for The Italian Tribune, and Host of The Italian Art of Living Well radio show, heard Mondays @ 7AM EST live stream .  You may write to her at

How to be an “Insider” on Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day marks the perfect occasion to remind ourselves that each of us, by virtue of being human, has the capacity to give and receive love, regardless of our relationship status. There is a pride that comes in the realization that each of us has the capacity to bring love to those around us, and by virtue of doing so, can make the world a better place. What is more powerful than that? Make that the focus this Valentine’s Day and forget the commercialism targeted to “couples only”. Their bottom line is chocolate heart sales. Our bottom line is real love, in the fullest sense of the word.

Years ago I watched a television lecture on the topic of love by the late professor and author Leo Buscaglia (Felice Leonardo Buscaglia). He told the story of having been the son of Italian immigrants who had 11 children and barely enough money to make ends meet when they came here to America. Their neighbors would have nothing to do with them, calling them “Dago” and ‘Wop”, and saying they were bringing down the real estate value in the neighborhood. Buscaglia was bewildered at the contrast between the people in his little Italian village where everyone prayed the moment he even got a head cold and had a “festa” when he recuperated—to an environment where no one even said ‘hello” or greeted them. What he learned, however, from his close-knit Italian family, and later from his cross cultural studies on spirituality, was the potential of kindness, warmth and caring to positively affect everyone we come in contact with—even those who initially try to make us feel like “outsiders”. Buscaglia believed that each of us has something unique to give to the world—and that can be reflected in the ways in which we express love.

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to think of several ways that you can BE the love that makes another person’s day. Stop listening to media’s narrow definition of love and take a proactive approach in defining it on your own. Ask yourself how you can make someone else feel important, needed, and wanted. Go to a nursing home and volunteer your time reading, talking, or playing cards with the residents. Go to a school and tutor children who need extra help, or write letters for the blind. Perhaps you can express your love for others by taking whatever skill you have and teaching it to those for whom it might make a difference in their lives. Visit an animal shelter and donate a bag of food, a few toys or treats, or sign up to walk the dogs a couple of times a month. The list is endless and limited only by your own creativity.

Dr. Buscaglia was a riveting speaker and lecturer. His passion for spreading the message of love was quite compelling. He was referred to as a “cheerleader for life”, urging us all not to be afraid to embrace all of life’s wonders and joys, as well as the necessary sorrows that human life entails. Back then I remember watching him and thinking it was kind of a sappy message. Now with a lot more life experience (as well as behavioral training) behind me, I realize he was a pioneer in discovering what might really bring meaning and peace to our lives once and for all.

So if you’d like, go out and buy that chocolate heart. In fact, buy two. Give one to yourself as validation for the terrific person you are, and buy one for someone else, who could use a smile—a relative you haven’t seen for a while, a child whose family doesn’t have much, a former teacher or health care provider who may have changed your life.

Now get ready to celebrate AMORE, in ALL of its forms, and let this be the best Valentine’s Day you’ve ever had–knowing that you are indeed an “insider”, who enriches your corner of the world in a way that only you can do.


Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is the host of THE ITALIAN ART OF LIVING WELL (Mondays 7AM streaming in real time, author of LIVING LA DOLCE VITA and LEMONS INTO LIMONCELLO—found wherever books are sold. Subscribe to The Italian Tribune where her columns appear weekly.  Check out my Facebook pages: & Follow me on Twitter here:









Time Flying By Too Fast? Here is a Plan…

Blog Life Plan

Technically the 24- hour-day formula is pretty non-negotiable, but if you make certain modifications to your lifestyle, in the words of Seneca, the Roman Stoic Philosopher, “Life is long if you know how to use it”. Here is a 4-point formula that might help “slow the hands of time”, at least long enough for you to savor each precious drop of your life

  1. Live in the Present
  2. Avoid getting distracted by daily trivia
  3. Make time for thoughtful reflection; and
  4. Create a Life Plan.

Seneca, the Roman Stoic Philosopher, in his essay “On the Shortness of Life” mused about how idiotic it is to spend one’s days organizing and planning for the future. Instead, focus only on making each moment the best it can be, so as to really interact with your life and not just being a passive bystander. Seneca also wrote “putting things off is the biggest waste of life, for it snatches away each day as it comes and denies us the present…” Put time aside each day to do something you love to do or have wanted to do. Spending your time worried about whether you will die prematurely or feeling regretful about not doing all you should have done in the past is unnecessarily harsh self-punishment, as is fearing that the time you have left on earth will fly by. The future is uncertain for all of us, which is why Seneca urges us to live “immediately”.

We are all guilty of engaging in endless daily “to-do” lists. We run around robotically completing the mundane tasks of living and. Granted, there are a number of routines we must engage in for survival (e.g. grocery shopping, etc.). However such activities should not become the reason for our existence. We need meaning. Seneca wrote, “ living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man, and those who run around preoccupied find life to be very short”.

Everyone needs periods of reflection so that you can cognitively “register” each day’s experience and that you are spending your time in line with your intention.

Finally, try keeping a notebook in which you write out (and continue to modify as needed) your “Life Plan”. Often the goals we set for ourselves end up looking more like a disjointed collage than the interlocking parts of puzzle, which when completed makes total sense. When I was a psychology professor one of the exercises I would give my students was called a “Lifeline”. You draw a horizontal line that represents your life, putting an X where you are now. To the left of the line you put an X to stand for each major experience that occurred up to the present (E.g.; got a new sibling, started dance lessons, first date, marriage etc.), then to the right, continue to put X’s to represent your future goals. Your goals should be aligned with your passions, values, and talent, no matter what your present age. Of course you don’t have to follow that particular template, or even the one in the photo above this article. In fact, I encourage you to customize your own template, according to the areas in your life you want to modify in the short, mid, and long range. The point is, it is never to late to give your life new meaning and live each day to the fullest.

In ancient times people turned to philosophers to serve as examples of how to live, and to their words to provide a guideline on the specifics of living a quality life. They covered areas of friendship, emotions, physical health, finances, love, and spirituality. Examine your life as it is now, and how you would like it to be in these fundamental areas, and then set out to close the gap. This will bring a greater awareness to each day; a necessary element for using your life well and experiencing a “long life”.


Copyright  2016 Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D.. I am a columnist for THE ITALIAN TRIBUNE, Host & Producer of “The Italian Art of Living Well”, a radio show broadcast every Monday morning @ 7AM EST ( and Author of “Living la Dolce Vita Bring the Passion, Laughter, and Serenity of Italy into Your Daily Life”, and “Lemons into Limoncello: From Loss to Personal Renaissance with the Zest of Italy”. Wherever books are sold.