Recently I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days in Italy. I visited some great and very pleasant friends who were on holiday in quiet a rural part of Tuscany where they have hills, woods, gravel roads and above all good food.
Excellent food can be found anywhere in the world, that’s not a specific reason to visit a city or region, sorry San Sebastian and Tokyo (Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin stars in the world, 304 stars divided over 226 restaurants).
During the days I was there, we’ve had dinner in traditional local restaurants, of course tourists visit these restaurants as well but they are not the large tourist traps that can be found in places like Milan, Rome etc.
These traditional restaurants stand out for one simple reason. This one simple reason is why people want to throw an Italian party, an Italian wedding and you name it. It’s not the “Made in Italy” marketing but it’s something much more important. These restaurants must have had the Maslow Pyramid incorporated in their business plan because they fulfil some of the most important needs mankind is looking for.
As you might remember Maslow’s theory said that people’s needs start with the 1. Physiological needs (breathing, food, water, shelter), 2. Safety & Security (health, employment, property, FAMILY and social stability), 3. Love & Belonging (friendship, family, intimacy, sense of connection), 4. Self-Esteem (including respect of others) and 5. Self-actualization (including acceptance, experience purpose, meaning and inner potential)
These restaurants have incorporated the first 4 levels of Maslow in their business:
- They offer good food in plenty of quantities, almost all homemade (level 1)
- You will find a TV everywhere broadcasting either football or Italian Idols (level 2)
- They treat you like friends, welcoming you personally, talking to you like a human being rather than a walking credit card (level 3)
- They respect you and understand that you are fully unique with specific wishes, which they cater according to (level 4)
I specifically mention the TV, most people find it annoying or understandable why they would have a TV broadcasting in a restaurant where I originate from. But ask yourself this question: how many of you are watching television at home during your dinner or know people who do so? This is what you could describe as ‘social stability’.
These restaurants offer you a place like home having dinner with friends. They will talk to you, help you, accept you, understand you and be there for you. Why? Because it’s an Italian Family! They have been doing so for many decades already and they will continue to do so.
According to the Millennials Maslow Pyramid is missing a level, level 0 to put it that way, namely WIFI and Battery Power. Of course, WIFI access is important, but not during a dinner with friends and family.
When was the last time you really spoken to somebody about causes that you care about, about feelings, about creating and sharing experiences without a phone in your hand? Nowadays people live by the rule “if you don’t have a picture of it, it didn’t happen”. They create experiences while looking at their phone, or focussing on the image on their screen and because of that they forget to look around and create experiences in 360 degrees. An experience is not just a picture, it’s what happened outside the picture, on the edges, behind and above you, the colours, sounds and smells. Things you can’t capture in a picture.
For that specific reason, you will find a large sign with “Free WIFI” in a tourist trap but in a family run traditional restaurant not. Because a traditional Italian restaurant makes you feel like family. Family doesn’t need a mobile phone to connect with each other and create and share experiences.
So, next time you are in Italy, get lost somewhere of the high way, find yourself a gravel road, continue to drive till you find a Ristorante Tipica in a small and rural village and start creating experiences with your family.