Reading The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad has just saved me the expense of moving to Italy.  Through Barry Frangipane’s book, his personal tale of moving to a foreign city to assimilate into the culture, I feel like I’ve experienced all there is to offer in the Venetian lifestyle.  I fell in love with Barry’s neighbors, relatives, and the shop owner’s whose stories Barry shared as part of his narrative.  That part of Venice I’d love to experience myself – the sense of community, the openness of the residence and their ability to welcome outsiders and treat them like their own.

But the portions of the Venetian lifestyle that I’d rather not experience were the parts of the books I found fascinating.  The government bureaucracy, the rules and regulations, and the general disregard for both.  Beyond that the physical difficulties of living in a city built on the water, with public transit idiosyncrasies that would send the typical American packing for home, there just seems to be a nonchalant attitude toward getting things done there.

Barry and his wife seemed to take most of it in stride and what they couldn’t, they try to Americanize.  Like adding small appliances to their rental apartment to help make up for the shortcomings of the antiquated and dilapidated kitchen.  These tries to upgrade through the standard items available in Venice shops are a story unto themselves.

Is this a detailed tome of the Venice lifestyle?  Thankfully no.  It’s akin to reading someone’s journal or blog.  It reads like “What’d Barry Find Interesting Today?,” and that’s exactly why I liked it.  The writing style was easy.   I love first-person stories of everyday life and that’s where this book fits for me.  If you’re looking for something deep and philosophical about the difference between the Venetian lifestyle and the American, you won’t find it here.  But you will find characters who are quirky and fun with the added benefit of being real.

I finished reading The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad on a plane from Phoenix to Seattle.  By the time I’d arrived in Seattle I’d discussed the book with my seatmate and he went home with it to enjoy himself.  That to me is a great book – one you want to share when you’re finished.

The Venice Experiment: An Interview with Author Barry Frangipane



Barry is the president of Savory Adventures, a gourmet travel company specializing in luxury travel to Italy.