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Living In Italy: Hilarious Expat Adventures - How To Survive The Good Life

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  460 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Would you dare to follow your dream and move or retire to Italy? Stef & Nico did, although their dog Sara had her doubts. Now from your comfortable armchair you can share in the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.

For lovers of amusing travelogue memoirs who like a good laugh. And for those interested in
Paperback, 280 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Babelcube (first published January 1st 2014)
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Joni Haynes I won it about the same time; the author thought it was a kindle sweeps, but turned out it was a print book sweeps. He ultimately sent me an Amazon ca…moreI won it about the same time; the author thought it was a kindle sweeps, but turned out it was a print book sweeps. He ultimately sent me an Amazon card ($15) to purchase it. I read it, and it was at least 4 stars...hilarious and informative on the subject.(less)

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Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Wow, what an adventure that was! I actually felt like it was me who bought a house in the beautiful wine region of Oltrepo in Italy and developed it into a Bed and Breakfast! I felt so involved in all the stages of the intricate procedures and building activities! "Living in Italy - The Real Dream" written by Stef Smulders is a self told book about two Dutchmen and their dog, who wish to emigrate to Italy to buy a house with the intentions of turning it into a B and B.
I loved the way this intere
Diane Barnes
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, if I ever get to the Lombardy region of Italy, this is where I'll stay.
Great views, great food, friendly innkeepers, one of whom is the author of this book. Stef and his husband Nico go to Italy for 6 months so Stef can get his master's degree at the University of Pravia. They fall in love with the area, buy a fixer-upper to renovate into a B&B, and you can guess the rest! Figuring out a new country, learning a new language, living in a home that is under renovation, going to school, day t
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2018
I am enamored with Italy. I enjoyed reading about the adventures of the author, Stef Smulders, and his partner, Nico, in opening a bed and breakfast in Italy. I have read a few other books that detail the challenges of moving to this beautiful country. This one provided delightful evidence that it would be best to just visit rather than make a permanent move. I do think a visit to this enchanting bed and breakfast should be added to my bucket list.
Caffeinated Weka
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, travel
Living in Italy is the story of a Dutch couple who pack up their life in the Netherlands to renovate and develop a bed and breakfast in a small town in Northern Italy. The idea sounds very romantic. How difficult could it be? What follows is a series of tales and stories outlining the many trials, tribulations and successes they experienced while turning their dream into reality. The anecdotes are told with humour and warmth, even those that chide tradesmen's antics and Italy's infamous bureaucr ...more
Randal White
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
The author has written a very humorous account of he and his partner's purchase of a property in Italy, and the development of it into a bed and breakfast. I laughed out loud several times while reading it, and marveled at the patience they had dealing with the Italian bureaucracy, neighbors, and especially their crazy contractor.
This is not your typical "dreamer/lost soul/jilted lover buys a rundown house in the Italian/French/etc countryside" and it's usual accompanying finding romance/true p
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was curious when I read the synopsis, of how Stef and Nico left The Netherlands to live in Italy running a B&B. I had resisted the temptation to visit the website to see the before and after pictures, though I had seen a glimpse of them. I wanted to read this book and build up my own image, from the descriptions Stef was going to describe on the pages of his book.
What started in 2007 with looking for a property to the end result of a beautiful home is remarkable, especially as you read all th
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a delight! Stef Smulders keeps his wits about him in the middle of his escapade of turning a house in the countryside into a beautiful bed and breakfast. Stef's humor seemed to help. This is definitely an entertaining look at a couple who decides to go after their dream with everything they have, and battling contractors, language barriers and bureaucracy along the way. Their home and new business is complete, and the after photos are amazing!

On a side note, we are going to Italy (here, sh
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
This is a well written journal style non-fiction tale of a couple of Dutch ex-pats, Stef and Nico, who decide to take the plunge and buy a run down house in what sounds like a beautiful part of Italy and create their new life as B&B owners. With a smattering knowledge of the language they negotiate their way through the bureaucracy, endless delays, and exasperation with the local characters who populate their new reality which makes for a series of pretty funny episodes. And yes-Virginia- There ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ever since Under the Tuscan Sun, I have thought that is my other life, my intended life. But after reading this book, I don't think I want to purchase an old house in Italy that needs work. This book made me realize that Italy is what I always thought it was, a relaxed, easy going culture where everything is no problem but can take 10 times longer to get done. Well written. If I'm ever back in Italy, I might have to find this B&B and stay a few nights.

I received this book from Stef Smulders for
Janet Rabe-Meyer
Can’t wait to go!

Living in a beautiful foreign country, even vicariously through books, is a wonderful opportunity to grow. I especially appreciated the use of Italian phrases heading each chapter which added to my vocabulary and dreams of living in Italy. A nice option to pulling up my stakes entirely, would be to schedule a visit to I Due Padroni! Perche no?
Leo Buijs
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is not exactly ‘La Dolce Vita,’ if you want to relocate to a different country and open a B&B. This is what Dutch author Stef Smulders and his partner found out and wrote a book about it. The couple faced more complications than expected during their move from the Netherlands to northern Italy. For anyone who has this in mind, the book will be an eye-opener.
As I have moved several times in my life to new cultures and idyllic places, I could fully relate to the problems they faced and found th
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cute little book! Really makes me wish I lived in Italy, hahah. Realistic, adorable, cute, and fun. I admire people who can dive in, and I'm even happier when they present a realistic account of the situation, rather than something unrealistic and "pie in the sky." Easy to read, quick and easy. I still have dreams of moving to Italy (or anywhere, really) but thankful for the experiences of those who take the risk when the rest of us can't (or won't.) ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and informative story about living in another country. Chapters made me laugh out loud while others made me sad for the author. Wow, what abundant patience the author had to cope with the all the red tape. A must read before embarking on the idea of living abroad.
Thank you to and the author for a copy of this book.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining collection of their stories in trying to get established in Italy. I sincerely admire their tenacity! And to read something like this always makes you think your own struggles in accomplishing what you want will pay off!
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Non ci sono problemi!”

Netherlands author Stef Smulders is a Dutch expat who moved to Italy in 2008, accompanied by his husband Nico and dog Saar, to start their bed and breakfast Villa I Due Padroni in the Oltrepo Pavese wine region, just south of Milan. Originally published in Dutch in 2014, Emese Mayhew has translated this fresh version into English.

As Stef explained in an Interview, ‘I moved from The Netherlands to Italy in 2008, originally for what was supposed to become a 6 month study per
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy amusing read!

The stories are told as short chapters which would make this a good holiday read ! Amusing and sometimes hilarious these 2 men set up a bed & breakfast facility in a country where they barely can put together two words of the language. Little do they know of the fearsome ton of paperwork entailed In buying a house in Italy, let alone what is demanded in terms of rebuilding or altering said house! Then there are the contractors and labourers from very diverse cultures with qu
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I was sent this book by the author after he read a review of another book that I had written. He did not ask for a review. He guessed right about my tastes. I really enjoyed it. It fits neatly into the "people emigrate to a new country to set up a new business and what befalls them" category. This time it is two Dutchmen moving to Italy to create a b & b. What befalls them is a stream of bureaucracy and form filling and. most critically, a builder called Tordi. I was amazed at their patience wit ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I was in Italy, probably even before, I wanted to move there. I'd heard it was a daunting task but this explains just how hard. Annoying and yet leaves a story to tell after. ...more
Jennifer Cusumano
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I know moving to another country has many challenges, but these two unflappable fellows give new meaning to the word grit. I read this book because I love Italy and have designs on possibly moving there someday (or maybe England?). I had to put it down for long periods at a time because I was getting so deflated with all the difficulties the Italians put in your way, but I had to finish it to get to the happy ending. I am really impressed by the life they've made for themselves, and maybe if I h ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
'How to' should be 'How we'. It wasn't a terrible read but a bit too: this, then this, then this. BUT if anyone is dreaming of romantic renovation and carefree adventures in Italian home ownership, this should cure them of it. ...more
dennis lippincott
Triials of Italion Nesting

What a delightful tale of establishing a new life and business in Italy. So well written that you could easily see the characters and the changes in the property in your mind. You will definitely want to visit!
Cecelia Betbeze
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and informative

This book makes me want to comeback to a region of Italy the I have not visited. Would not have the patience to take on the task of buying and renovating a home. Because I am of Italian heritage I understand some of the temperament. Really enjoyed the book
Chris Naugle
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. I will never make it to Italy, so to be able to read someone's experiences is awesome. ...more
Gabriella Gricius
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As someone who has also crossed (it seems) infinite cultural bridges to move to another country, I could more than empathise with Stef, the author of "Living in Italy." It's a captivating book, in that if you've ever traveled abroad for longer than a normal vacation-acceptable period - you know exactly what he's going through. Red tape and bureaucracy aren't traits of moving just unique to Germany - it's those little irritating moments that exist no matter where you move. I found myself smiling ...more
Carol Rode
Great Read

A very good book to read. Dealing with contractors and getting everyone on the right path to get things done. Starting out a new life and career is a lot of work but in the end very pleasing. This book took you through the ups and downs with working with language barriers and getting it all worked out in the end. Very easy and pleasant to read.
Reader Views
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (12/16)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life’ by Stef Smulders on Blogcritics.

“Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life” by Stef Smulders is the sensational story about a couple’s emigration to Italy to start a new life. Readers witness first-hand the vicissitudes of moving to a new country and adjusting to the local bureaucratic officials, systems, and customs.

When S
Italo Italophiles
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The ex-pats in this memoirs about moving to Italy come from The Netherlands. The couple purchased a property and renovated it into their new home, and two rental properties to provide an income in their adopted land. European Union legislation makes their move to Italy simpler than it would be for non-EU residents, but in Italy that is not saying much!

Their stories about finding and buying the property, and then renovating it, show that things that may be very straight forward in some countries
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous book, a real laugh out loud, cringy moments with lots of good advice on moving to Italy, fabulous story, I did not want it to end!
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even before Frances Mayes enticed readers to visit Italy, I fell in love with all things Italian. My dream was realized in 2005 with a trip to Italy, alone, for 22 days. I stayed in a home much like Stef and Nico’s for 8 days, took cooking classes with the local Italian Mama’s, and have longed to go back since I boarded the plane to come back. To me that is the ultimate American dream – but I can see that it is really an International dream, too; living la dolce vita. Stef Smulders book Living i ...more
Calee Spinney
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received an advance copy of this book from the author. I read a number of expat-type books, and have enjoyed both Frances Mayes and Peter Mayles. Smulders said that he patterned his book after Under the Tuscan Sun and while the subject matter is rather similar, the writing style is all his own. I enjoyed reading about his adventures in renovation, starting up the B&B, and settling into the new town.
My own criticism is that the book probably should have been about 100 pages longer. I kept find
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Dutchman who moved to Italy in 2008 to live the good life wih husband and dog, welcoming guests in their Villa I Due Padroni B&B in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese, south of Milan.

Author of the Award winning book "Living in Italy: the Real Deal" with hilarious expat adventures.

Sneak Preview at Living in Italy: the Real Deal

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