At Least You're in Tuscany Gemelli by Jennifer CriswellAs an expat in Italy, I’m drawn to memoirs by writers who have followed a similar journey of uprooting life and going in search of a new pathway in a new country. Naturally, if the book is about expat life in Italy, then it’s probably top of my “must read” list. I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of the latest release from Gemelli Press At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life by Jennifer Criswell.

In the case of Criswell’s memoir, you can judge a book by its cover! Just like the author, I have a weakness for those brilliant red poppies that dot the fields in Italy. Or, in my case, poke out of the cracks in the ancient stone staircases on the Amalfi Coast. I was captivated by the beautiful cover design from Gemelli Press and then laughed when I read the book’s subtitle: “A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life.” The title At Least You’re in Tuscany evokes the spirit of Criswell’s book, which is a refreshing and often hilarious read from an author who has captured the charms as well as the challenges of expat life in Italy.

At Least You’re in Tuscany follows Criswell’s big move from New York City with her beloved Weimaraner named Cinder to a new home in an apartment in Montepulciano, a beautiful Tuscan hilltown not far from Siena. The book follows her first year as she adjusts to the ins and outs and ups and downs of life in Tuscany. From learning Italian and slowly making friends to epic delays in paperwork and bureaucratic nightmares, Criswell shares with readers more than just the pretty views and stereotypical Italian experiences. Her stories and enduring sense of humor reveal that adjusting to life in another country and planting new roots isn’t all all about wine and fields of poppies.

While reading At Least You’re in Tuscany, one Italian word kept running through my mind – grinta. While it may not have the melodious and romantic sound usually associated with Italian, its hard sound is very appropriate. While the dictionary definition comes up as “determination,” for me it’s a mix of courage, stubbornness and eternal optimism. It’s Italian for oomph! And grinta is precisely what is needed when you pack up and move to another country. Criswell has grinta in abundance, and it’s what makes her story such a compelling read that I couldn’t put it down!

Although the title hints that the book might have a negative bent, I found Criswell’s sense of humor and determination uplifting. Whether she’s describing the time her laundry froze on the line or painstaking struggles with finding work, I found her sense of humor the perfect balance to the troubles at hand. Reading At Least You’re in Tuscany reminded me of the many adventures I’ve had adjusting to life on the Amalfi Coast. Humor is absolutely required! That and a good mantra to keep positive even in the most difficult moments. Criswell’s mantra, “At least you’re in Tuscany,” carried her through that first year of changes and challenges until Montepulciano finally became home.

If you’re dreaming of making a move to Italy one day, or simply enjoy reading expat tales, I’d highly recommend At Least You’re in Tuscany by Jennifer Criswell. It’s a tale not only about life in Tuscany but also about having the determination to follow your heart’s desires – no matter what challenges life throws your way!

Now available at Amazon in Kindle version. Nook and paperback versions coming soon!

At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life
By Jennifer Criswell
ISBN: 978-0-09821023-7-4
Author’s website: |  Gemelli Press website:

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  • Anne

    So I can say to my friends “you have lost your Grinta” Or “we need to get our Grinta back ” LOL Lol , I like that word. 🙂

    October 20, 2012
  • The book cover is beautiful and inviting. Goes to show you how important a book cover is as an overture to the reader. (Of course, the old saying is also true: you can’t judge a book by its cover. But at least the cover gets you to open the book.)

    October 23, 2012
    • Ivan

      So true, Lorene! Our vacation to Tuscany a few years ago was a perefct mix of art, enjoying the natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside, old castles and churches, lazy afternoons in cafes, fantastic food What an amazing country! Hope we get to go back sometime!

      January 2, 2013
  • I love the word grinta too. A great new addition to my Italian vocabulary!

    October 30, 2012
  • This looks like a great read Laura am sure there will be plenty to relate to having done the paperwork in Italy and now France! I adore the title Jennifer has given the book sets the tone for what I am sure will be a light hearted and heart warming read! Thank-you for the review Carla

    November 1, 2012
  • LindyLouMac in Italy

    A lovely review Laura, I am looking forward to my copy reaching the top of Mt TBR.

    November 1, 2012
  • Brian Ging

    Reading and loving this fun book. Thanks for the suggestion!

    December 1, 2012
  • Susanna

    Thank you so much for the recommendation! I absolutely loved the book!

    December 22, 2012

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