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The Venice Experiment by Barry Frangipane and Ben Robbins

A Year of Trail and Error Living Abroad

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Venice Experiment, a Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad, is a lighthearted and amusing book about Barry Frangipane's year of living in an apartment in Venice, Italy. Barry and his wife, Debbie, decide to move to Venice from Florida where they spend a year trying to live like locals while Barry continues working by telecommuting. This book is a series of short vignettes about their experiences.

Living in Venice

Visitors to Venice often fall in love with the fascinating city built on the water but actually trying to live in Venice is another matter as Barry and Debbie quickly discover. There's lots of red tape involved with a move to Italy, especially as they decide to take their pets, but they manage to find ways to deal with the discouragements and settle into a ground floor apartment. As they start living in the city they encounter many interesting situations and people.

In The Venice Experiment, readers are taken into the world of everyday Venice as Barry relates their trial and error adjustment to the city. His anecdotes of their life are presented in a humorous manner although many of them were probably not funny at the time. I could easily relate to many of his experiences and found myself smiling and nodding my head as I read. There are also touching stories about the people they meet and the relationships they develop. His vivid descriptions of Venice make the city come alive in the book.

The Bottom Line

Barry is a great story teller and his tales are both amusing and interesting. This book is a quick read, in fact I took it on the airplane for a trans-Atlantic flight and was disappointed that it only kept my occupied for a few hours as I sped through it. A nice touch is the inclusion of the addresses of some of their favorite bars and restaurants he talks about in the book so you can actually visit them yourself on a trip to Venice.

Anyone who likes Venice, wants to go there, has ever dreamed of living in Italy, or just enjoys entertaining armchair travel will probably enjoy this book. If you're heading to Venice, read it on the plane.

Buy the book or read more about their adventures on The Venice Experiment Web Site.

A Note About Venice Neighborhoods

Barry and Debbie first live on a canal in the residential Santa Croce neighborhood, one of the least touristy parts of Venice. Although the neighborhood itself isn't touristy, the canal is frequented by gondolas which may be a romantic sight to visitors but day after day, the constant coming and goings with singing right outside the window quickly becomes tiresome. As they quickly discover, living on a ground floor apartment by the water has other disadvantages, too.

Eventually Barry and Debbie seek another apartment, this time in the Jewish Ghetto area of the Cannareggio, where they find not only better living conditions but more lively markets, bars, and restaurants. Barry takes the reader on a tour of the Ghetto and shares places that he and Debbie enjoyed during their year in Venice.

Take a look at Venice's neighborhoods with our Venice Sestiere Map and Information.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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