If I looked a bit harried as I walked down the street, a vigilant signora would sometimes stop me and say something like, “Stai tranquilla, cara,”—keep tranquil, dear—in a soothing, musical voice, or “Vai con calma”—go on your way with calm. Excessive stress and overwork were by no means considered de facto aspects of life in Italy. They were understood for what they are: serious threats to health. In Italy, I began to see more clearly the serious problem with American culture’s tendency to make work the supreme value. There may be some people who can withstand long days, all kinds of environments, and being available by text or phone at all hours, but there are plenty of people who cannot—or don’t want to—withstand such conditions. Unfortunately, American work culture does not offer such people an alternative. It’s true that the stress-phobic attitude of Italy, taken to an extreme, may have led the country to a recession much deeper than that of the U.S., but for me, the refreshing contrast of the Italian way was crucial to my recovery from chronic disease.There were also many cultural intangibles that helped me heal. Landing in Italy felt like switching from a splintery, unforgiving wooden chair onto a velvety divan. Italians understood illness. They wanted to nurture you out of it, and it did not make them squeamish. If ever I mentioned that I was battling a health issue, my Italian friends clucked sympathetically and were quick to suggest age-old, medicine-free remedies. Even strangers helped. I must have looked pallid one day as I bought my meat, because the butcher said, “Il brodo…fai il brodo!”—Broth…make broth!—and handed me a sack of cow bones. He then gave me his recipe for an exceptionally soothing beef bone broth, which I make to this day.