World-Famous Tenor Andrea Bocelli Shares An Italian’s Secrets To Living A Happy And Successful Life

Two of Italy’s greats have come together to celebrate Italian culture in the best way possible: coffee company illy has partnered up with world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli on its latest North American advertising campaign. Using Bocelli and his career as inspiration, the illy campaign celebrates that creating something unique, like Bocelli’s voice and (naturally) illy coffee, espresso, and machines, requires a never-ending commitment to perfection, hence the brand’s slogan, LIVE HAPPilly. We chatted with the music legend, who begins a state-wide tour on June 16 in San Jose, Calif. that ends on Dec. 15 in Boston, on his greatest achievements, how he embodies the illy ideal of living happily and what the world needs to realize about the Italian culture.

1) Playing on Illy’s slogan, do you personally live happily?

Like the time which, in our own perception, exists as it goes by but does not have its own existence, I think that happiness is something which is ineffable, fluid… Maybe in the very same moment I ask myself whether I am happy, it is likely that that mood will change and get out of my control. I like thinking of happiness as something of Latin origins and Greek origins even before, a synonym of the act of “generating”, of being fertile. If by living a happy life we mean to “act”, to do something good for others and consequently being at peace with our own conscience, being grateful as we are aware of the gift and the privilege that we were given ,as well as the responsibility that life entails, then the answer is Yes, I am happy.

2) What does the rest of the world need to understand about Italian coffee culture?

I am just a coffee drinker, therefore I can only bring my own experience: coffee is not “just” a drink, nor a way to intake a stimulant. That of coffee is an experience, that sets the rhythm of the day, a ritual which requires to take a break from any other activity so that the real protagonists become the senses. Coffee is not just “the coffee.” it is the aroma preceding it that then spreads out, it is the taste that stays on the palate after drinking it, it’s the cup that warms your hands, it’s the distinctive swirls that dissolve sugar crystals or that mix the thick golden froth on the top with honey, another real miracle of Mother Nature… With or without sugar, a consolation or an aromatic storm, coffee is a small but big friend of our lives. And like for anything else that communicates with olfaction, coffee is an extraordinary catalyst of memories and emotions.. In fact although coffee is a privilege of adulthood, it easily brings you back to your childhood. I remember in the morning, even before getting out of bed, its aroma would spread around the house and it would come and comfort me, giving me the emotional direction to start my day in an intimate and domestic environment… The coffee aroma would inaugurate the day, bless the house, it was the first moment of sharing of the day for that amazing community called “Family”.

3) What does the rest of the world need to understand about Italian culture in general?

As a fervent patriot, I believe that Italy is still the best country to live in given the wealth of extraordinary natural beauties and artistic masterpieces that pervade the Italian territory, from the Alps to Sicily. My biggest joy is being able to spread the culture of my country, a complex landscape which naturally offers lights and shadows. As stated in other occasions, Italians have the virtue to have their own individual thinking but this is also their worst shortcoming: in other words they are not able to think together, to be together and do team work. Mine is not an easy country, however it is amazing and Italians were born and raised within the culture of beauty in nature, arts, creativity, food and feelings. And the true Beauty – i.e. something that is inspirational and does not belong to evil and – is closely connected to Good.

4) What, in your opinion, has been the greatest achievement of your life and why?

I believe it is my faith: a priceless gift which I tried to be worthy receiving, safeguarding and nurturing. Faith, the result of an inner space, slowly and laboriously created, over the time, while trying to extirpate the weeds of vanity and arrogance. Faith is also correlated to my realization that the reason of my success is a gift I received from God, which I have no credit for. The only achievement I can claim the merit for is having been able to honor that gift with all the sacrifices it entails.

5) Which piece of music is closest to your life story and why?

There are many songs… If I had to quote one, I would say “My Way”: a song whose melody remains in your soul forever, a song which triggers a powerful self-identification process, which gives each person the perception that it’s their own personal song, expressly written for them. In the opera repertoire you are spoilt for choices. It is easy to identify yourself with the Melodrama Heroes, made unforgettable by the genius of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Umberto Giordano... I think of “Improvviso” from the “Andrea Chénier”, “E lucevan le stelle” from the “Tosca”, to “Che gelida manina” from “La Bohème”, “Celeste Aida” from the Aida, to “Nessun dorma” from “Turandot”…. The list is endless.

6) What do you consider to be the greatest luxury in life?

Maybe Time, the time to think, to discover, to develop a deep passion for life, to enjoy nature and the company of other people living with us on planet Earth. But also the time to sip a cup coffee, with all the quietness it deserves. On a less prosaic note, I think that the biggest luxury is being able to conquer anything that you cannot buy with money, so first and foremost Faith, Love and Serenity.
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