Many people have living abroad on their bucket list. Australian media personality, Kate Langbroek is one of the few people that can say that she and her family have done it. In Ciao Bella! Six Take Italy she offers a travel diary about the two years her family (husband, Peter and their four children: Lewis, Sunday, Artie and Jannie) spent living in Bologna in Northern Italy.
This book is Langbroek’s first. As someone who has graced our TV screens on The Panel and The Project and on the airwaves with friend, Dave “Hughesy” Hughes (who makes a cameo), Langbroek knows how to tell an anecdote or two. She sounds like a friendly and down-to-earth lady, the kind of person you’d love to grab a drink and have a chat with. She and her family decided to take on this monumental task after her eldest son Lewis overcame childhood leukaemia. They all had a desire to take time out from the rat-race and reset.
There are many moments where readers will feel empathy for Langbroek and her family. We’ve all had to face our fair share of challenges while traveling. The fact this family had to find permanent lodgings, a car, a school and navigate the chaotic Italian bureaucratic system was no mean feat. At times, this is a relatable experience for those who have traveled overseas, and grappled with foreign languages and different customs.
But maybe it’s feeling down about the pandemic or my own yearning to travel, but this book did get a tad repetitive at times. There were only so many times I could enjoy reading about yet another Bellissima meal or their fun times with friends abroad. After a while, I stopped living vicariously through Kate’s and Co.’s adventures and simply felt disconnected from the proceedings. It’s a shame, as I really wanted to love every minute of this romp but I didn’t. At times it even felt like hearing about one’s dreams, fascinating to them to talk about, but not as interesting to the listener.
Ciao Bella! is a love letter from Langbroek to the country she fell head-first for. It is one brimming with optimism and a can-do attitude. You’ve got to hand it to this brave lot for upending their lives and achieving such a hard but ultimately rewarding act. Ciao Bella! will give you a snapshot of two years of their lives, but may leave you wishing you’d been there for a closer perspective on things.
TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Kate Langbroek’s Ciao Bella! Six Take Italy is available now from Simon & Schuster Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.