Living in Italy: the Real Deal Hilarious Expat Adventures


Paperback & Ebook


280 pages
Babelcube Inc.
ISBN: 1507162960


 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
Glossary of Italian words included! Learn a bit of the Italian language along the way
Practical advice on how to buy a house in Italy pleasantly presented within the stories

A charmingly lighthearted recollection” Kirkus Reviews
A comical, often downright hilarious account” Reader’s Favorite Review
Smulders’ storytelling artistry is wildly entertaining” Blogcritics/Reader Views


Moving to Italy

Do we really have to move?

moving to italy

Okay, there we go.

Italy here we come!

Order or download now:

(paperback on Amazon only)

Our adventure in 25 slides

  • Hilarious & Horrendous Expat Stories

    Hilarious & Horrendous Expat Stories

  • Our expert checks everything

    Our expert checks everything

    (while nitwit real estate agent looks on)
  • Checking the permits at the comunal office

    Checking the permits at the comunal office

    (everything ‘a norma’?)
  • Signing the 'compromesso', preliminary contract

    Signing the 'compromesso', preliminary contract

    (the owners looking on)
  • Final deal at the notary

    Final deal at the notary

    (do we really understand what we’re signing?)
  • Getting the roof waterproof!

    Getting the roof waterproof!

    (first things first)
  • OMG the renovation(?) has started

    OMG the renovation(?) has started

    (why do they always start destroying first?)
  • Trying to escape the dust

    Trying to escape the dust

    (setting up a website for the B&B)
  • Just look at the mess!

    Just look at the mess!

  • Neighbour Francesco is glad with the rubble

    Neighbour Francesco is glad with the rubble

  • Our A-Team: Marco (Romanian), Mariano (Moroccan) and Mimmo (Sicilian)

    Our A-Team: Marco (Romanian), Mariano (Moroccan) and Mimmo (Sicilian)

  • The infamous contractor Torti

    The infamous contractor Torti

  • Torti checking the work of his workers

    Torti checking the work of his workers

    (not looking happy)
  • Torti still checking

    Torti still checking

    (never satisfied)
  • There he is again

    There he is again

    (“Sbagliato!” he shouts)
  • Okay, I'll do it myself then

    Okay, I'll do it myself then

    (same age as Berlusconi, 77 years old)
  • Doesn't he ever leave?

    Doesn't he ever leave?

  • Yes he does! Lunchtime!

    Yes he does! Lunchtime!

    (pasta from mamma)
  • The staircase doesn't fit

    The staircase doesn't fit

    (our blacksmith is a disaster)
  • All the plaster has to come off

    All the plaster has to come off

    (headache for a week)
  • We do the painting ourselves

    We do the painting ourselves

  • Final stage: pouring the concrete for the ramp

    Final stage: pouring the concrete for the ramp

  • The indispensable swimming pool

    The indispensable swimming pool

    (imported from The Netherlands!)
  • The first dive in the pool, finally!

    The first dive in the pool, finally!

    (with the workers still busy)
  • Cin cin!

    Cin cin!

    (thank god we survived)
... to this

From this ...

… to this
huis na verbouwing

Text Fragments

Lousy real estate agents

real estate italy
renovating house in italy

“No, he didn’t want any grappa and no wine either. He was astemio, totally teetotal, he claimed. We stared at Torti in surprise. Alcohol abstinence in this part of the world? You must have great self-discipline. Later I did catch him pushing a trolley at the Cantina Sociale, the wine merchant where local drinkers replenish their fast disappearing wine stocks for two and a half euros per bottle. What would he be doing there? Buying a bottle of grappa for his daughter, was his excuse. A bottle, with a trolley? Subsequently, he pretended to know which wine would suit which meal and which vineyards produced the best wines and which were rubbish. But this wine know-how probably originated from his stubborn nature, which we would get to know through and through. Torti always knew better.”

Stubborn contractors


“I want to warn you, please don’t be offended if I seem rude, but I see that you are kind and trustworthy people and I don’t want you to suffer the same fate that I have. I see it as my moral duty to warn you. Be careful with that charlatan; don’t do business with him because he will rip you off. I have lost ten thousand euros. He was going to do everything for me but nothing came of it. He also stole a piece of my land: according to the land register, my garden is a lot bigger.” Piero was just rattling on, going around in circles and coming back to the same topic every time. “Nico, Stef: ascoltatemi, non fidatevi, ricordatevi quello che vi ha detto Piero. Vi faranno male. Ve lo dico dal cuore.” With that, he placed his hand dramatically on his chest. What were we supposed to make of all this, as newcomers and outsiders?”

italian neighbours tim parks
italian toilets
"In Italy, just like anywhere else, you need to visit the public facilities (at bars, restaurants, theatres, universities, etc) now and then. This can become quite an adventure for the toilet trainees just starting out, although even advanced toilet-goers experience regular set backs. To start off with, you need to locate the toilet. If the segnalazione, signs, are not satisfactory (and that is often the case), you are faced with the task of asking a member of staff or others present to direct you to the shortest way to the facilities. “Could you tell me where the toilets are?” How do you say this in Italian without making a blunder? The notion ‘WC’ won’t cut the mustard here, even if you knew how to pronounce this in Italian (“doppio vee tshee”). With a cry of distress “Toilette?” you will have more luck, even though uttering this single word doesn’t make a very good impression. Italians call the toilet il bagno, an expression that’s often misused by Dutch people who are trying to find the bathroom."


Pat & Mat

"The electricians got to work, which turned out to be quite a spectacle. The taller of the two looked a bit unkempt; he was unshaven, with greasy hair and dishevelled clothes. He was holding a roll-up cigarette nonchalantly between his lips, and it was shedding bits of ash onto our beautiful tiled floor from time to time, but the man didn’t even seem to notice. At the same time, he looked at you with friendly, twinkling eyes. Whilst they were working, they communicated with each other using a language of gibberish that only they understood. Was this some sort of secret code that they had developed in their years’ of partnership? They seemed to be in complete harmony with each other. One would pull at some cables while the other stood over at the main fuse box, observing the effect. Mumble, mumble, a surprised look on one’s face, a questioning look on the other’s. Time to try something else. And so on... The analogy was striking. They looked exactly like the world famous handymen duo from the Czech animation series Pat & Mat. We were being kept wonderfully entertained as we watched the activities of our technicians di fiducia from a distance."
pat mat elictricians

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