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 […]
In our region, the Oltrepò Pavese, exists a tradition from medieval times, called la cena delle sette cene, lâ sénâ di sèt sén in dialect, the meal of seven courses. It consists of a dinner with seven fixed dishes, served on the evening of december 23rd. This is the so-called antivigilia di Natale, the pre-Christmas Eve wake. […]
(This is the 1rst chapter of my book Living in Italy: the Real Deal with our expat stories and adventures) With my right foot still on the pavement, the estate agent’s car was already pulling away. My reaction was fast: I pulled both legs inside and slammed the car door, averting an accident. The estate […]
Connecting the square of the Duomo with Piazza della Scala , the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II of Milan offers a wide range of luxury shops, bars and restaurants. Not the cheapest places, so you can spend a lot of money if you wish. At the Town House Galleria Hotel you can stay at a price […]
Lake Como, located only 40 km north of Milan has for ages been a major tourist attraction due to its mild climate and beautiful surroundings. The rich and famous of all times have built their villas and landscaped their gardens here, along the panoramic shores of this lambda shaped beauty. The western shore of Lake […]
The chickens are roaming around in the garden below the terrace of the Italian agriturismo where I am sitting. They must be very happy, if such a concept exists in the chicken mind, doing what they are supposed to do, in peace, not worrying about what might happen in the near future. That said, they […]
On February the 24th, 1525, almost 500 years ago now, the decisive battle that determined the supremacy over Northern Italy was fought in the large Visconti Park, just north of the city of Pavia in Lombardy. This battle is renowned for being the first example of “modern” warfare and also as being the first one […]
Definitely the most famous sight of Milan , the Duomo Santa Maria Nascente is also one of the largest religious buildings in the world . Its splendidly white marble facade with thousands of spires and statues opens up to the large Piazza del Duomo , where all great festivities of Milan take place (like Inter […]
The Palazzo dell’Arte or La Triennale in Sempione Park is not to be confused with the Galleria d’Arte in Villa Reale. The 1933 building is called the Palazzo dell’Arte and was especially constructed to house the three-yearly art exhibition of Milan (till 2002). Since 2007 it is the home of the Triennale Design Museum , the […]
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!