Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life
By: Stef Smulders
Publisher: Babelcube, Inc.
Publication Date: November 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 2017
How hard, annoying, and at times utterly ridiculous was it for you and your family to relocate? Ah…just thinking about it makes all those lovely stories float back through your mind. Learning the language(s) (or attempting to understand new accents); cost of living changes; education changes; trying to set up a house; going to a brand new DMV to get licenses changed – and the list of ‘fun stuff’ goes on. Add on the extra problems that can come with relocating from America to a whole new country, and you have this extremely entertaining book. Witty, charming, fun – this author tells all about the interesting issues that crop up when setting up shop in Italy.
From word one, this tale/memoir is filled with short stories of all the “new” things Mr. Smulders, his husband, and their dog, Saar, met up with when they decided to leave friends and family behind in order to move to Italy and set up a Bed & Breakfast.
Italy is known for amazing food, kind people, beautiful sites to see and enjoy – AKA: “The Good Life.” But very rarely (if ever) do you hear about the fact that “The Good Life” is an extremely difficult thing to achieve: The house can be a nightmare to set-up— ending up dark, even in sunny weather, because all the windows face north. You may have to deal with one main public TV channel that airs a plethora of daytime talk shows, and nothing else. Not to mention, having to learn the language in order to not panic when attempting to narrow down where, exactly, those toilettes are located.
The characters in this book, as well, are absolutely hysterical. From the slightly devious to the fun-loving Italian folk who always seem to have a story for everything, this author and liver/lover of the Italian dream introduces readers to these "Signore e Signori" one right after the other. You literally become so engrossed with them that you start believing you’re in a fiction novel. (You will love Torti, the builder, by the way. In fact, once you come across him in this book, you will not want to put this down!)
There are many tales written about those who have emigrated to the U.S.A. from their own beloved birthplaces; they have written about America’s “good, bad and ugly” when it came to their experiences setting up a new life in this new place. With this book, however, it is not only interesting and fun, but also refreshing to embark on an adventure going the other way across the ocean.
Even with all the trials that landed in Mr. Smulders ‘extremely difficult to achieve’ column when it came to this move to Italy, he has done a remarkable job laying all his cards on the table and still making Italy feel like one of the most enchanting and charming countries you could possibly call home.
Quill says: For those who wish to laugh and see a more up-close-and-personal Italy, this is most definitely the book for you!