Living in Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders @italie_verhalen #bookreview #travel



Title: Living in Italy: The Real Deal – How to Survive the Good Life

Author: Stef Smulders

Genre: Travel Writing, Bed & Breakfast Travel Reference


Book Blurb:

#1 in Bed & Breakfast Travel Reference (Amazon US Bestseller)


In 2008 Stef Smulders, his partner Nico and their dog Saar emigrated to Italy to start a new life and set up their B&B Villa I Due Padroni. They sold their home, left their friends and family behind and took a leap into the unknown. Now Stef shares his experiences in a collection of witty short stories. The book treats the trials and tribulations of an emigration: what it was like to buy and renovate a house, to import a car, to gain residency, and much more.


The reader is introduced to a full range of Italian characters, from the trustworthy to the rogue, from the gentle to the shameless, flesh and blood Italians. Some are stereotype, others unexpectedly original. Yet they never fail to amuse and entertain.


My Review:

Ever since I was fifteen years old, I’ve been in love with all things Italy. At one time, I wanted to emigrate there and live like the Italians do. Authors like Frances Mayes and Jan Morris fed my heart’s desire and now I can add Stef Smulders to the list of my favorite ex-pat authors.


In 2008, Stef and his husband, Nico, decided to take the plunge and emigrate to Northern Italy and open a bed and breakfast. Although they did their research back in the Netherlands, it’s never as easy as all that. Stef records their journey. The result: a delightful and entertaining read.


From finding a place to live to buying and renovating a property (to turn into a B&B), Stef doesn’t hold back which brings authenticity to this memoir. His take on their Italian real estate agent had me grabbing my sides from laughing so hard. The continual uphill battles Stef and Nico faced were realistic and I now understand how difficult it must be to emigrate and start a business as a foreigner in Italy. Through it all, though, Stef kept his humor and the end-result is breath-takingly beautiful.


This is a translation from Dutch and I must say, I am thoroughly impressed. You’d think Stef was British and fluent in English.


If you love all things Italy and/or thinking of visiting, I highly recommend this book. If you’re looking for an escape from winter weather, pick up this book right now!


Thank you to Stef Smulders for giving me a copy in the hopes that I’d review it.


My Rating:  5 stars


Buy it now:

Amazon US


Amazon UK


Barnes and Noble








Author Biography:

Stef Smulders and his husband Nico are two adventurous Dutch men who decided to start a new life in Italy. In 2008 they made the big move with their dog Saar and set up Bed and Breakfast Villa I Due Padroni in the beautiful wine region of the Oltrepò Pavese to the south of Milan. In 2014 Stef published his first collection of amusing short stories (in Dutch) about daily life among the Italians, entitled “Italiaanse Toestanden – Leven en overleven in Italie”. It was so well received that he published a follow-up volume of humorous anecdotes in 2016. The third volume is under preparation, expected to be in press by spring 2017. “Living in Italy: the Real Deal” is the translation into English of the first volume.


Social Media Links:





Reviewed by: Mrs. N


6 thoughts on “Living in Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders @italie_verhalen #bookreview #travel

  1. Thanks so much, mrs N!

    Just one correction: it is Emese Mayhew who should receive the credits for the translation!
    Unfortunately this isn’t mentioned in the current paperback version of the book, which is an error, to be corrected soon!

    Cari saluti


  2. I’ve read it too and loved it from the beginning to the very end! Funny stories thay show how things really work in Italy. Although I sometimes wondered if the Italians themselves understand their rules and regulations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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