Living in Italy: The Real Deal

Hilarious Expat Adventures

Non-Fiction - Travel
282 Pages
Reviewed on 10/28/2016
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Author Biography

Stef Smulders was born in The Netherlands in 1960 and moved with husband Nico and their dog to Italy in 2008 to start bed-and-breakfast Villa I Due Padroni in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese south of Milan. In 2014 he published his first volume of short, anecdotical stories (in Dutch) about daily life among the Italians entitled "Italiaanse Toestanden". It was well received by readers, leading to a second volume of witty anecdotes. A third volume is to be published spring 2017. The English translation of the first volume has just appeared as "Living in Italy: the Real Deal".

    Book Review

Reviewed by Josephine Strano D'Urso for Readers' Favorite

Stef Smulders' Living in Italy: The Real Deal is a thoroughly entertaining read and a unique introduction to ‘the Italian way’! While attending a university course, Stef and husband, Nico, decide almost on a whim to buy a property in the wine region of Pavia and set up a B&B. Once they find what they are looking for, Stef drops out of university to oversee the remodeling of the house. He and Nico tie up a few loose ends in Holland and, together with their dog Saar, move into their new home while the restructuring work is going on. The book is a comical, often downright hilarious account of the setbacks and unforeseen obstacles Stef and Nico encounter while they navigate through the endless red tape of the stressful Italian bureaucracy and become acquainted with the Italian lifestyle.

Living in Italy: The Real Deal is by no means a travel guide, but for those who plan to relocate there, it provides an interesting insight into Italy’s public services’ notorious sluggishness and disorganization, as well as the Italian way of life. Being Italian-born, I found it to reflect the true essence of the Italian people without falling into the usual stereotypes. I also appreciated Stef Smulders' good-natured, tongue-in-cheek account of his experiences and interactions with the different characters in his book, all endearing even though sometimes maddening. Stef writes in a style all his own that keeps you riveted and thoroughly entertained. I could easily see this book as the first of a series dedicated to Italian living, written with a good dose of the same humor.