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At Least You're in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  281 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Diastrous Quest for the Sweet Life is Jennifer Criswell’s memoir about her first year in Montepulciano during which her dream of expat life meets the reality of everyday challenges and results in sometimes funny, often frustrating, always lesson-filled situations.

Jennifer Criswell’s move from New York City to Tuscany was not supposed
Paperback, 220 pages
Published September 28th 2012 by Gemelli Press LLC
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Community Reviews

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Oct 30, 2013 Margitte rated it really liked it
What do you do when you want to make your dream your address, like Marcel Proust; you idolize Italian men; you imagine life on earth should be about all things Italian, and you have “Che palle!” or “Porca miseria!" or “Stronza!” down pat? And what if your mom periodically, okay at least twice a day, yelled "Vaffanculo" at your brother? Yeah, right, you declare your life as a lawyer in New York obsolete; you move to Tuscany - Montepulciano, to be exact - the lock stock and dog way. It is the pla ...more
Diana Baur
Feb 24, 2013 Diana Baur rated it it was amazing
If you've ever dreamed of of packing it all in and moving to a hill town in Tuscany, take it from me: Jennifer Criswell has been there, done that and has written a fabulous book about it! You'll love following Jennifer and her sweetest of sweet dogs Cinder through the winding streets of Montepulciano as they encounter real life Tuscan-style at every turn. She brings the characters to life with charm and aplomb. Jennifer didn't make this move with a loaded bank account or monstrous job offer wait ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Monika rated it it was amazing
I loved At Least You're in Tuscany. Loved it! I lived in Italy as a kid, a few hours south of Montepulciano. I've been back once (13 years ago as a college student) and I admit I've since had dreams of returning as an expat. Jennifer Criswell acted on her dreams. With no specific plan and no job prospects, she packed up and moved to Italy with her Weimaraner.

All of the emotions that come with those first few days in a foreign country came through - I could feel Criswell's exhaustion, pangs of ho
Lisa Niver
May 31, 2013 Lisa Niver rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Enjoy my review on the Huffington Post:

It starts:

In Jennifer Criswell's At Least You're In Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life, she describes her first year as an expat in the small town of Montepulciano. Her mantra when things go wrong is "At least you're in Tuscany, at least you're in Tuscany." There are many "Lucy Ricardo" moments from her antics while joining the annual Sangiovese grape harvest in Tuscany, to hanging her laundry i
Oct 28, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Being an expat myself, I know that the dream of living in a foreign country can often differ pretty significantly from the reality. However, I've never come across a book that captures the trials and tribulations of moving to a new culture with quite the same level of laughing honesty of 'At Least You're In Tuscany'.

Criswell's dream of sipping espresso on an Italian balcony while writing best selling novels, overlooking rolling Tuscan hills, is brought crashing down to earth through a series of
Sep 05, 2014 Tina rated it it was amazing
After throwing down "Under the Tuscan Sun" in utter annoyance, I went in search of an account of an English speaker living Italy that wouldn't bore and annoy me. "At Least You're in Tuscany" was what I was looking for. The author has a great knack for making you care about everyday struggles, and was endearingly self-deprecating, but not overly so. It was the kind of book that made me laugh out loud, and occasionally interrupt my husband to read him a quote. It's just a really fun read.
Naomi Foster
Apr 22, 2014 Naomi Foster rated it it was amazing
Many of us have dreamed of moving to a foreign country to live the good life. Few of us do. But Jennifer Criswell took one step after another and made it happen. I loved the honesty and humor about the many difficulties along the way and the romance, the courage and strength it took. This is a perfect book for anyone who has ever thought of moving to a new country or who wants to take on a new challenge no matter how difficult. Ms Criswell shows us that little steps one after another eventually ...more
Dec 20, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is going to become one of my favorite books! Jennifer is living my dream right down to living in my favorite Tuscan town!
Well written and easy to read, this book quickly takes you on a wonderful (and sometimes bumpy) trip through the first year of the author's new life in Italy. You will enjoy this book!
Kathleen Duffy
Feb 26, 2013 Kathleen Duffy rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book of perseverance! I likely would have left Tuscany after a couple of months in the conditions Criswell endured.

This book also helped to fuel my travel bug. Tuscany is gorgeous, as is most of Italy, and I can't wait to return one day.
Feb 11, 2013 Renaissance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
We all dream of escaping our lives and Jennifer actually did it. A light hearted look inside the story of chucking it all and going for broke to follow your dream.
May 13, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, memoir, for-review
As a young woman, Criswell took an extended trip to Italy and knew she had found her true home. Years and several more visits later, she finally leaves New York and moves to Montepulciano, Tuscany, with her dog Cinder. Despite careful preparation, she hits roadblocks from the start - a rude landlady, social isolation, difficulty speaking Italian, and most of all, serious financial trouble because she can't work. Her Sicilian ancestry entitles her to Italian citizenship, but of course, what was p ...more
Maria Shaw
May 19, 2013 Maria Shaw rated it it was amazing
My husband and I met the author (after following her blog) in 2010, so I was somewhat familiar with her experience up until then...but the book goes into so much more wonderful detail than her blog. She can really write, and takes the reader on a fun, at times painful, beautiful journey into Tuscany and into her life. She strikes the perfect balance, revealing beautiful Tuscany without over-romanticizing the place with the cliches and tired stereotypes and imagery so worn out by authors of Italy ...more
Jul 06, 2013 Hattie rated it it was amazing

This is such an enjoyable non-fiction book about a woman, Jennifer Criswell, who decides to move from the United states to Tuscany, Italy. Although there is much in the story about Tuscany, there is more about how the author adjusts to a new location so far from home.

This is a honest story. Jennifer Criswell writes about her personal struggles to rebuild her personal world overseas. To me, the most difficult part of the journey is her lack of funds. She planned to work, but getting a job was lik
Mar 27, 2016 Christy rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. As someone who spends most of their day dreaming of moving to Italy, I was thrilled and envious to read from someone who actually had the guts to do it. I liked that the book was not all sugar-coated and that she spent a lot of the book talking about the frustrations and confusion of being in a foreign country. Beyond my deep interest in the subject, I also found Jennifer Criswell to be an excellent writer, keeping the reader engaged and entertained. I hope she puts ou ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Mel rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I just spend two months in Tuscany and this book felt like a gift, capturing some of what I experienced there and offering a fun and honest portrayal of Criswell's Tuscan experiences. Criswell is a sharp, humorous, descriptive writer and I loved her approach to sharing her joys and sorrows of adjusting to life in Tuscany. She doesn't sugarcoat her experiences, instead she offers a nuanced narrative of the people, food, weather, and wine of Tuscany. You will laugh out loud and ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Tara rated it it was amazing
This was such an enjoyable book and easy to read. I felt like I was sitting with a girlfriend chatting over a bottle of Pinot Grigio and hearing about her recent move to Italy.

Anyone who visits Italy probably has at the very least a fleeting thought of packing up and moving there. This is a story of someone who did just that-packed up and set down roots in a foreign country. But instead of the oh so overdone fairy tale of a young woman who moves to Italy, renovates a Tuscan villa, falls in love
Jun 20, 2014 Lauri rated it really liked it
This is a memoir of an American young woman's first year in her relocation to Italy - something, no doubt, that many of us have fantasized about doing but few of us actually have the stones to do. The thing I really like about this book is that Jennifer doesn't sugar coat her experiences. Sure, she expounds on the natural beauty of Tuscany; but she also is very frank about the difficulties she has in securing an apartment, making new friends (as opposed to acquaintances), and acquiring a work pe ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Kerry rated it it was amazing
How many of us have thought about moving to Italy to live the dream. We've all seen Under the Tuscan Sun. This book tells the story of Jennifer Criswell's journey doing exactly that. And she certainly experienced her share of ups and downs, financial difficulty and frustration with bureaucracy. Sometimes you laugh at her adventures and other times you just want to cry out in frustration at her ordeals. I loved this book. I hope Ms. Criswell writes more about her journey in this beautiful country ...more
Gabriella Gricius
Feb 15, 2014 Gabriella Gricius rated it really liked it
Why Read: I’m a fan of travelogues. Enough said. If you know me, you know my tastes in books are extremely wide ranging but at the end of the day: travelogues will always be some of my favorites. Also.. Netgalley.

Review: Every once in a while, a book comes along and makes me smile without smiling, and look at myself. I didn’t think it would be this one. In fact, as the book started, I expected the opposite. I had just returned from Italy, and was not maybe in the right mood to read a travelogue
Mar 09, 2013 Jean rated it really liked it
Tuscany, one of my favorite places to visit. Great fresh food. Scenic views that take your breath away. Winding roads to get lost on. And people who treat you like family. And then there's the wine. It's a great place. Jennifer Criswell chose to move to a small town in one of the hilltowns of Italy: Montepulciano. Her antics come across breezily and with feeling.

I will enjoy writing this one up for my blog. Brings back so many memories of our trip to Tuscany.
Vicki Bennion
Aug 09, 2014 Vicki Bennion rated it it was amazing
My husband and I have both read Jennifer's book after meeting her on a recent trip to Tuscany. We were lucky enough to have a tour at the Poliziano Winery and Jennifer was our guide. We were a group of 6, from the states, celebrating my husband's birthday. We hit it off immediately with Jennifer, and ended up buying 3 copies of her book and having dinner with her in Montepulciano. I could go on about the delightful evening and restaurant, but I will save this for another time.
I read "At Least Yo
May 23, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
**my disclaimer: a complimentary, electronic version of this book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley, but all thoughts/opinions are my own**
***further disclaimer: I’m obsessed with all things Italian, but I have tried to not let that influence my opinion***

I requested this book originally because the cover art was beautiful and the book was about Tuscany. Once I started reading it, and realized it was an actual memoir, I became a little hesitant because there are so many books
Jan 09, 2013 Molly rated it really liked it
After meeting the author on a wine tour in Montepulciano, I knew I had to read her book. Maybe it's because I fell in love with the town she was writing about, but I found myself wishing the book was longer and wanting more details on her adventures. Lovely tale of the expected (and unexpected) of picking up and moving to Tuscany.
Feb 21, 2014 Helen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am always attracted to stories of this nature – what would it be like to transplant your life to some exotic destination, such as Tuscany in this case? So when Criswell wrote, “not just picking up roots but planting them in the right spot”, I thought this was a good sign. Not to be.

Would you quit your job, pack your bags, and move to another country – alone - where you knew no one close, hardly spoke the language, understood even less, and where your paperwork entitling you to work was not wel
Apr 02, 2013 Lorraine rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, travel, italy
I love travel memoirs in general, but I loved this a matter of fact I'm packing my bags for Tuscany as I write this review!!
Jun 22, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm an American expat living in the UK with a deep love of Italy. This book really spoke to me. I can so emphasize with the struggle Criswell has had to become legal as well as to figure out where in this foreign society she fits.

I laughed and I cried along with Criswell. Sometimes I was just grateful that I'd emigrated to a less bureaucratic country. I loved the way Criswell added the Italian language to the book. I felt like I was learning along side her. In fact, due to this book I've signed
May 18, 2013 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Perfect for any Italophile who wants to be transported to Italy.
Italo Italophiles
Aug 20, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it really liked it
The full title of this books is At Least You're in Tuscany, A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life. The book is a memoirs about one year in the life of an Italian-American woman who attempts to emigrate to Tuscany, Italy, at the age of thirty-eight-going-on-eighteen, with her elderly dog.

To be honest, I found that the litany of bad decisions by the author made me wonder about her sanity. I suspect much of the fun people find in reading this account of a search for the good-life in Italy,
Jul 23, 2013 C rated it really liked it
Shelves: galley-arc
I enjoyed this and really want to give it 5 stars, but I feel like something is missing.

The writing is nicely done, the account of her move to Italy was great - she tackles equally the up and downsides to her decision to move. I truly expected, as I'm sure others at the time might have, that she'd end up back in NY by the end of the book. I applaud her stubbornness to stick with the dream.

I also felt like her explanations of the culture were well done. Instead of a William Sonoma spread with f
Jul 30, 2013 Caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to drop everything, move out of the city, and start a brand new life in a dream-like location. Jenny has described perfectly the ups and downs of making this dream a reality. While reading her book, I was faced with many emotions: at times I was so envious of her courage and her new lifestyle...going to the local bar for an espresso and brioche, the view of the Tuscan hills from her window; and then I would immediately become empathe ...more
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“It certainly wasn't the sensible thing to do. [Referring to her move to Italy.]” 0 likes
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