Friday, February 3, 2017

Living in Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders | A Book Review

Living in Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders | A Book Review

This book is a real account of the author's emigration from Netherlands to a small hamlet in Italy. This narrates all the headaches, hurdles, the mountains of paper works and messages lost in translation Nico and Stef had to go through to be able to set up their dream of a bed and breakfast in the picturesque countryside of Italy. If you ask them, the hassle and delay were all worth it.

Stef and Nico are from Netherlands who dreamed of starting a bed and breakfast in Italy. This book recounts all their headache-inducing experiences with the locals and the bureaucracy that they had to go through in order to fulfill their dreams. These two are now happily spending their afternoons gazing over vineyards and entertaining guests that they thought it a good idea to share their story in a delightful comedy of errors.

This was a very fun read. I think Torti was the villain in this story if there is to be one. He was the source of all the suffering and grief of Nico and Stef. He was the only and last barrier to achieving their life-long dream. And to top it all, he was acting like he was at no fault at all. Like he was a saint. I agree with Stef, Torti has potatoes for brains. I think Torti sort of destroyed my idea of the Italians or Italy. I thought Italy was very advanced and industrialized. People are so hardworking and don't dally. But again, like Nico and Stef, I had a lot to learn about the Italians --their temperament, culture, government and bureaucracy. 

The second most annoying person would be Olita, the realtor. I also think that he does not deserve any cent of the commission that he got. He never did anything. 

I liked how this book was done --each chapter was a little anecdote that relate to an Italian word or saying. The chapter about Italian toilets was very informative. I was also of the illusion that their toilets are as high-tech as those in the US or Japan but apparently, they are not. I can vividly picture the author's descriptions and I was holding my nose and cringing as if I were there too about to use the loo.

The plates of food and Italian cuisine mentioned here were very mouth-watering. Yes, I too dreamed of savoring the authentic Italian risotto, ravioli, pasta, pizza, and gelato. I can also imagine myself taking hundreds of pictures of the beautiful countryside dotted with vineyards. Someday.

I give this book 4/5 bottles of wine. Very entertaining and very informative. It depicts the other side of Italy that few people know about. I am relieved and happy to know that their B&B is up running. I hate to think that all the hair loss due to stress that these two underwent was all for naught. It took months but the waiting was worth it. Hopefully, I could visit "I Due Padroni" and Italy in the future. Pray, I won't get to experience first hand the other side of the Italians that is popular in this book. And that I won't get lost looking for the toilet when I need it.


Autista, for example, does not usually refer to a person with autism, but instead to a professional driver, someone we might call a chauffeur at home.

- Stef Smoulders, Living in Italy: The Real Deal -