Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Stef Smulders, author of Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life
FQ: What made you decide to put your experiences down on paper to share with others?
SMULDERS: The fact that so many unexpected, mostly laughable things happened while we trying to settle here. Fortunately we were very active blogging so after a year I had all the material handy. Then it turned out to require quite some effort to turn these blog posts into stories that would be of interest of a general public though.
FQ: The Italian people seem oh-so-colorful the way you describe them in this book. Is there one who truly touched your heart and sums up Italy? If so, who would that be and why?
SMULDERS: That must be Giorgio, our tenant. He is politeness in person, very serious in doing the good thing, sarcastic about the Italian institutions but with a good sense of humor as well. And a romantic.
FQ: After all is said and done, knowing what you know now, would you still have moved to Italy and set this adventure in motion?
SMULDERS: Definitely, yes! We might have chosen to go and live somewhere away from the actual building site while the renovation was going on though...
FQ: I have to ask: is there another place/country you want to visit? Or have you had enough when it comes to travel?
SMULDERS: We love to discover other regions of Italy now that we are here, so we visited the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Chianti, Le Marche and ... Sardinia which has become a new love.
FQ: For the dog lovers out there (I being a big one), how is Saar? Still enjoying the Italian world and everything it has to offer?
SMULDERS: Sadly no, she died of old age in 2009. We then had another dog, given to us by the vet who later turned out to abuse his personnel and animals! This I wrote about in part two, that is still only available in Dutch.
FQ: Can you tell readers a bit more about your B&B and how/where they could learn more in order to take a vacation there? Does it supply the guests the “Good Life?”
SMULDERS: We certainly try to present our guests with the dolce vita and fortunately almost all of them do experience it. Many arrive all stressed out after a year of hard work but within a week they are completely relaxed and do not want to leave anymore! We organise small scale cooking workshops, a truly Italian too-many-courses dinner and wine tastings. Many go walking or cycling straight from our house and are impressed by the silence and friendliness of the people here. Curious? Have a look at our website http://www.duepadroni.it
FQ: If you had to pick the top three things Italy has to offer that literally makes it the best place to live; what would those be?
SMULDERS: Climate: it is truly summer here from June to October, without becoming too hot.
People: in our region, the Oltrepò Pavese, tourists are rare and met with surprise and enthousiasm.
Gastronomy: the Oltrepò Pavese is the wine region of Milan and there are hundreds of small producers of excellent wines. And the food! It does not get more authentic than here.
FQ: I realize this is a truly personal book, but you have that rare gift of hilarity (and goodness knows we all need that). So, have you thought of writing another book along these lines? Should fans expect more tales from Italy?
SMULDERS: In fact I already did. My second book with hilarious tales was published last year, in Dutch, and a third is about to in March. Weird things keep on happening here almost every day ?. Only yesterday, for example, we discovered that a neighbour, whom we never met, has listed a room of his house on Airbnb with horrifying, nonsense pictures and also a few better ones that he copied from our site! We are even on them. I think that’s typical of some things that occur here. And it is hilarious. First story of part four!