Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria by Clare Pedrick
Genre: Travel memoir/romance
Published by Matador on April 9, 2019
Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.
Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.
“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”
Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.
Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man who Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.
This memoir describes an English woman’s emigration to Umbria, Italy, in the 1980s. Clare purchases a home that is in ruins in the countryside of San Massano. After the end to a long-term relationship, she decides to purchase a second home in Italy. She views a video of a place for sale and watches as the chickens eat pasta. She falls in love with the place and although does not buy that home, she does end up moving to Italy to her rundown home with the beautiful views. She ends up restoring it and becomes an active member of a small village. The characters that live in the village or the surrounding areas become her family. Angela and Ercolino become her surrogate parents and I absolutely loved them. The humour they add to the story is wonderful. Clare is able to build an ex-pat career in journalism, traveling to Rome a few times a week and sending her stories all over the world using the only phone in the village, that happens to be in the local store. The owner of the store Tito, is another humorous and fascinating character in this story. I could go on and on, but you just need to read this book.
The book is very well-written and enjoyable. The descriptions of the local culture, the food, the wine and her home were wonderful and allowed me to travel vicariously through this story. This is not a description of traveling to the well-known destinations in Italy, it is the story of a small village and what it is like to live there. This story takes place in the 80s, so I am not sure it would be the same now, but this was a poor, rural area with no phones, heating by fire, cooking over open flames, no refrigeration etc. How she survived was due to the wonderful people she met as she became part of their lives and community. Of course there is the romance part of this story. When Clare meets Mario, neither of them are looking for a relationship or commitment. As their relationship develops, it is not an easy road. Two different cultures and life experiences coming together are going to have some bumps and a lot of compromise that is not always easy. Overall this is a wonderful story. There are parts that made me laugh, made me angry, made me smile and made me want to get on the next plane to Italy. I recommend this book to armchair travelers, those who enjoy interesting memoirs and those who like a nice romance with some humour thrown in. Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for supplying me with a copy of this book to read upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About Clare Pedrick: Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.
Read her blog about life in Umbria here
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