“We created Italy. Now it remains to create the Italian.” These are the famous words of writer and politician Massimo d’Azeglio at the unification of Italy. Many modern day Italians do not think that 150 years of central government have succeeded in producing this Italian. „This is not Italy,” a guide told us once while […]
In january this year Domenico Modugno, one of the most famous Italian singers of the twentieth century, would have celebrated his 90th birthday. Everybody knows his song Volare, although the original title is Nel blu dipinto di blu. With this song Modugno in 1958 won his first of four titles at the San Remo festival, […]
Great News! I just published my second book about Italy, called MALINTESO: Crazy Misunderstandings When Trying to Speak Italian. Now with an (temporary) Introductory Promo-price of only $0.99! Learning Italian in Practice Without any pretence, this book is devoted to a number of amusing accounts and anecdotes about the Italian language. Ever since I moved […]
The period of Easter naturally is one if the most important festive days in a catholic country like Italy. Masses and processions are part of the menu in all villages, however small. And there is the inevitable pranzo or lunch of course! All generations of every family come together to celebrate Easter at home or […]
Every day is a tiramisu day, most people seem to think, given the immense popularity of this Italian dolce. It is difficult to find an Italian restaurant outside of Italy that does not offer this favorite. But since last year there is a special day dedicated to tiramisu as well: the 21rst of March. Just […]
When we moved to Italy in 2008 we learned a lot fast. The process might have gone smoother if we had known some things beforehand. In this post I share our most important insights for those who think about moving to Italy. Learn the language BEFORE you make the move. Although Italians learn English at […]
The most popular of all homemade TV series in Italy is without a doubt Il Commissario Montalbano, a crime TV drama which has a ’share’ of 45% as the Italians call it. This means that half of the population watches each new episode. A crime tv drama situated in Sicily The character of the moody […]
After years of governments that were not chosen by the Italians, partly a result of the major financial crisis in 2011 that forced the Italian president Napolitano to remove Berlusconi out of office, the voters finally are going to have their say again about who is to lead the country tomorrow. A lot has happened […]
The unknown Oltrepò Pavese wine region south of Milan produces a range of DOC wines and a spumante DOCG. Some of the wines are typical of the area like the sparkling, young and fruity Bonarda. This wine, made of the croatina grape, is hardly known abroad as the wineries mainly produced it for local consumption. […]
Last year some alarms went off in Italy: there were too many turists visiting the most famous sights, like Venice, Florence, Rome, the Cinque Terre, the Lombardy Lakes etc. The crowds were just becoming too large to be able for these cities and areas to cope. Venice was becoming uninhabitable and the original Venetians were […]
Coming back soon! In the meantime, the latest review of my book Living in Italy on Amazon: Jorge Sager 5.0 out of 5 stars Instructive…and funny Sorry, Mr. Smulders, but I laughed a lot with your nightmare. Very good for anyone who wants to know how the experience of changing country (and culture) is. A […]
The San Siro stadium in Milan, the home ground of both Internazionale and AC Milan soccer clubs, is officially named after the two-time World Cup winner (1934 and 1938), Giuseppe Meazza. But the stadium is more commonly known as “the” San Siro, after the district in which it is located (and the patron saint of […]
Safely hidden on top of a hill, behind the walls of the vescovo‘s (bishop’s) palace in Lorete, Le Marche, within a magnificently decorated marble shrine, stands a little house. As the legend tells us, Mary of Nazareth, wife of Joseph, was born, grew up, and was visited by the archangel announcing Jesus’s birth in this very […]
“Nieddittas” our friendly host told us, “Take the cozze di Arborea, those are the best.” We had asked him which type of mussels we should buy in case we wanted to cook them ourselves, during our holiday in Sardinia. We had already eaten a fabulously delicious zuppa di cozze e arselle in a nearby restaurant […]
In Milan there are thousands of restaurants which leads to an embarrasment of choices. Although traditionally there were different types of restaurants, like osteria, trattoria, ristorante and the like, the difference between these types generally has blurred, so you do not really have to worry about the precise denominations. They all serve more or less the […]
Today I celebrate my birthday, even though I am born on April the 14th. Weird, hey? Even weirder: Italians really keep good track of their saints and martyrs on the calendar and on the day that the saint with the same name as you has died, you are to celebrate! A second birthday party! As […]
Shocking news in the world of Italian fashion: the 160 year old factory of the famous Borsalino hat has been declared broke. It is not that the hat of all hats is no longer popular, but bad financial management seems to have done the firm in. There is hope of a restart, however, as a […]
The tree destined to become Rome’s 2017 center of the festivities of Christmas hasn’t made it. Non ce l’ha fatta, as the Italians say. Okay, it was dead already at the departure of its 600 km long journey from the Valle di Fiemme in Trentino. That because it could not be transported with the roots […]
Milan’s Central Station is an impressive building in size and style and worth a visit even if you do not intend to travel by train. Although the construction of the railway station already begun in 1906, it was under the fascist reign of Mussolini that it got its definitive form and was finally completed. Some of […]
This a beautiful museum housed in the palazzo of the nobleman Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli (19th century), very close to the Scala in the Via Manzoni. Among the numerous paintings from the 14th to the 18th century you’ll find the Madonna and Child by Andrea Mantegna , the Lament over the Dead of Christ by Giovanni […]
Even after many years I still have problems memorising the Italian national holidays. A few are internationally (Christian) standard, like Christmas and Easter, but the Italian calendar has a few exceptions as well. So, it is important to remember when they are, as most shops tend to be closed on those days. A good reason […]
The Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio was for many years an important center for pilgrims on their journey to Rome or to the Holy Land, because it was the site of the tomb of the Three Magi. The tomb is currently housed in an urn located in the Chapel of the Kings. The bell tower even carries the […]
Monza is mainly known abroad for its Formula 1 racing track, but hosts a few other artistic and historical gems as well, apart from being a pleasant city to visit on its own. There is the historical city and there is the park of which the Autodrome is part. Both are equally large, with Monza lying […]
“Guarda che cosa ha trovato!”, Alfonso suddenly exclaimed and he showed us a small black truffle his dog Lilla was supposed to have found. (“Look at what she has found!”) It was all a bit strange, however. Earlier, when Lilla seemed to be on to something, Alfonso made sure he was with his dog as fast as […]
The biographer Walter Isaacson has recently published a new biography of the uomo universalis of all history’s geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci. The book has immediately become a worldwide bestseller so apparently there still is need for more information about the Renaissance man Leonardo. From 1482 till 1499 Da Vinci worked in Milan for Ludovico Sforza […]
The Ambrosian Art Gallery , located not far west from the Duomo, consists of the actual Art Gallery as well as the Biblioteca and an Accademia. Paintings and sculptures from the 14th century to the beginning of the neoclassical 19th century are in the collection. An overview of the exhibition rooms is available on the very […]
Buying a house in Italy seems a dream of very many people who have visited the sunny country on holiday. Very often it will remain an unfulfilled wish because it seems too complicated or daring to carry through. How do you go about finding a house, buying it, renovating it, what are all the rules […]
The blind brother’s little room is, in all its simplicity, probably even more touching than the beautiful small adjacent church with its 15th century frescoes. Frate Ave Maria as the monk was known, blind due to a shooting accident at the age of 12, lived there for four decades (till his death in 1964), ascetic, pious and content, […]
About 500 meters north of the Scala you’ll find the Pinacoteca di Brera (Brera Art Gallery). Surprisingly enough the museum owes its name not to its founder but to the Germanic word braida , indicating a grassy opening in the city structure. Several of Italy’s greatest masterpieces can be admired here, for example: Andrea Mantegna […]
Visiting a graveyard may not be your favorite pastime when on vacation, but the (really) Monumental Cemetery of Milan is one not to miss. The mortuary monuments of the graves of famous Milanese families were produced by the best sculptors and artists since the opening of the cemetery (1866). A large variety of death themes […]
Italy Expat Blog
Living la Dolce Vita
In 2008 Dutchman Stef Smulders, his partner Nico and their dog Saar emigrated to Italy to start a new life and set up a B&B. They sold their home, left their friends and family behind and took a leap into the unknown. In 2009 their bed and breakfast Villa I Due Padroni opened her doors and has since welcomed hundreds of satisfied Italy lovers.
In 2014 Stef published his first book, in Dutch, about the trials and tribulations of an emigration and about expat life in Italy. It was very well received and was followed by two sequels, in 2016 and 2017. Last year the English translation of the first book was published as "Living in Italy: the Real Deal - Hilarious Expat Adventures". This version was met with acclaim as well and has won several rewards and received very good reviews on Amazon as well as Goodreads.
"Stef Smulders ... does what a good writer does: He writes what he observes and leaves the judgement to you, the reader. No constant bellyaching from Mr. Smulders. I like that. I really like that."
James Martin, Italy expert, www.wanderingitaly.com
"impressive five star read"
Reader Views / Blogcritics
of the first 80 pages of my book!