Divided into 15 equally enchanting chapters, her book tells tales of unexpected meetings, magical moments and love in Milan.
For Ms. Conelli, love doesn’t require lavishness or grand gestures. To her, it means something else; simple pleasures, new discoveries, little things, and much more.
In Milan, love can surround you everywhere. You just need to know where and how to look.
With grace and elegance, Ms. Conelli shares the city’s special spots, only known by locals and passionate lovers of Milan. Her unique way of capturing the magic of places and people she writes about is ever present, guiding you through Milan – by morning, day or night. Every part of the book brings a different perspective to the essence of love.
Mariella taught me that when the streets of Milan ask you to dance, there’s nothing else to do but put on your ballet shoes and surrender with confidence to the arms of the city that has materialized the visions of courageous, fearless people.
You will see Milan from a new angle rarely discovered by tourists, learn the origin to Pizza Margherita, shop for exclusive fashion in the Golden Quadrangle, find out where to go for a divine snack of crispy panzerotto (and where to savor it), come along on a romantic evening tram adventure, experience the sublime nature of ballet, and dine at an extravagant restaurant whose entire interior is for sale (because the owner believes “…every space must evolve and grow so that life energy can flow through it continuously…”).
It is as if you follow the author every step of the journey and you feel an unavoidable desire to walk the streets of Milan on location, not only through your imagination.
In Milan, there are very few things you can rely on. Life here is fast and loves constant changes.
The final chapter and Ms. Conneli’s unforeseen encounter with an American outside Tiffany’s, as taken out of a Hollywood movie, excellently summarizes what dolce amore is really about.
A sketch of a bohemian chic girl with a big Italian hat and funky travel bags on the cover is good enough to understand that this book is about a girl’s journey to the fashion capital of Italy, Milan. The lemony background is bright and lively in sync with the zest of life which this book promises to talk about. I just love this glamorous shiny cover!
“Chique” means stylish and hip girl. “Dolce” means ‘sweet’ and “vita” means ‘life’ in Italian, so the title suggests that the book is quintessentially about knowing the secrets of living ‘a sweet life’ in a stylish way – more precisely, the Italian way! The writer has used a mix of Italian words and phrases here and there, which makes the stories of Italian people, sensually sweet and fascinating to read. The book starts with these words which perfectly sum up the gist of life as well as the theme of this book, “La vita e bella, life is beautiful and the most amazing wonders of this world often hide in the simplest things.”
There are sketches with every chapter which help you visualise the things, scenery or people which the writer talks about in detail. The book is not a travel guide with maps and locations to tour Italy; it explores further into the lives of common people and tells the stories of simple Italian men and women from fashion designers to small village bakery shop owners. It does not just tell about Italian art and its awe-inspiring museums and galleries but about life in general and how to make the most of it by being aware of who you are and by appreciating the people and the place around you. It is more like a “self-discovery” than just being able to witness the lifestyle and the rich culture of Milan.
It helps the reader appreciate the breathtaking ‘sights and sounds’ of Italy while reading about the hidden aspects of its cultural heritage and legacy, apart from ‘fashion’ and its famous ‘nightlife’. The chapters are short and words used are irresistibly sweet filled with the warmth of Barbara’s heart and made me feel the heat and soul of Milanese. For example, while telling about Brera, she personifies this Milanese quarter near La Scala, by calling it a “capricious woman” who “gets under your skin, whether you like it or not”. In another chapter, she talks about a mysterious saxophonist who plays in the streets and how she later finds out about his real identity. There is so much passion in the stories infused with elegance and wit that it made me finish this book in one sitting.
I have never been to Italy but after reading this book, I want to go there and witness everything from my eyes especially the places that Barbara describes in this fantastic book and maybe meet that sixty years old lady who has been working at a local silk factory for past 30 years or perhaps go to eat Da Gancio’s famous polenta with butter and home-made cheese along with a glass of home-made rose wine. The diversity of famous Italian food made me sigh with temptation and filled my mouth with the unknown flavours like those of delicious home-made saffron risotto. Ah! The gourmet pleasures!
At the end of each chapter, the writer concludes one secret towards achieving that ‘tranquillity’ and finding ‘happiness’ from within. It is like a spiritual journey and reminded me of the pulsating energy I felt when I used to listen to Ricky Martin’s “Livin La Vida Loca”. The book does not teach or preach with moral lessons but states a philosophy, a way of living which is “to stay young at heart, forever, no matter where you are or what you do”.
I highly recommend this book to people who love to travel and unravel the mysteries of different cultures and who are open to learn and experiment new things in life, without any inhibitions. I enjoyed this book a lot and being a sucker for travel books, I have already read it three times. For me, it serves like meditation. It does not matter whether you have been to Italy, you will never go to Italy or you live in Italy, the book still offers something for every kind of reader. Just read it, you will love it for sure!
Review Girl Rating: 10/10
This slim volume is a quaint and enjoyable read. It is a bit of travelogue of the city of Milan and the surrounding area and it is a bit of a women's empowerment book! Barbara Conelli brings us the magic the Milan. And she brings us the joy of being a woman in Milan. Chique Secrets is full of delightful stories of the author's time spent in Italy. Ms. Conelli really brings Italy to life...you really feel like you are there experiencing everything that she does. She brings life to the culture and food of Italy. And now I really want to try Saffron Risotto! She makes everything sounds so charming and delightful. What I particularly liked was that in Italy, a woman can eat solo in a restaurant without everyone looking at her funny. And that a woman's girlfriends are a very important part of her life. This book really celebrates being a woman. And the importance of wearing high heels! Ok, I'm ready...let's catch a flight to Milan right now! I recommend this quick, light read for a great summer read or a great read before a trip to Italy.
"Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is a very charming book. It is written in a warm and friendly way, making the tales and places come alive and attract the reader even more. Having recently come back from a trip to Rome, I know a little of the Italian spirits and passions and Barbara has captured it very well. The passion she has for Milan comes across clearly. It would be a great little guide book to have for sale in Milan itself, for the English-speaking tourists there. Perhaps the author could even get the "characters" from the book to display a few copies too. It's sure to be popular with many people there and would be an ideal Sweet Guide." (M. J. Hooper, Angel Editing)
What a lovely name for a lovely book! Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita by Barbara Conelli is part travel guide and part guide to life. It is reminiscent of Room With a View, one of my all time favorite movies,where you are swept away by the gorgeous Italy and love. In this book, Conelli masterfully details Milan and the sheer beauty of the Milanese lifestyle and point of view.
How can I not love a book that starts with this, “To live a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses. It means having the eyes to see real beauty, having the nose to semll intoxicating scents, having the ears to hear dreamy sounds, having the mouth to taste delicate flavors, having the body to perceive soft sensations. It means being aware of yourself, of your emotions and desires. It means finding happiness in ordinary yet unique things.”
For a person who likes to find great quotes in books, this book was a Veal Milanese feast for me. Pour a Chianti and enjoy these–
“Nowhere else can you see so many women enjoying their day alone without needing the company of a man or some girlfriends.” (I am a regular solo diner at the sushi bar so I loved this!)
When describing Carla, a thirty-five year old friend, Conelli writes,” Carla simply doesn’t worry about biological clocks, nuptials or relationships. Probably thanks to that, she doesn’t lack “fidanzati” boyfriends and lovers.”
When analyzing the dynamically charged love affair of Giovanna and Francesco, Giovanna’s response.. “She didn’t think their relationship was that exceptional. She was just happy in an absolutely simple manner and had never really analyzed why it was so.”
Conelli points out that Milanese women look great in anything. “It is not because of their sophisticatedly unadorned style or because they have a special, secret recipe for charm. There is only one very simple reason: Italian women do not flaunt their clothes but themselves. They do not doubt their immense female power and they do not worry about pseudo-imperfections. ”
Me thinks American women need a trip to Milan!
And finally, when discussing the beautiful Bellagio.. “Because Bellagio is a magical, sunlit little town where there is not time for trouble or fears. Its inhabitants simply have more important and more pleasant thiings to do. A long time ago, they decided that in Bellagio, there was no room for the worries of everyday life and they have therefore been avoiding them thoroughly with grace and ease.”
To this, I say Salute and encourage us all to have no room for the worries of everyday life!
Barbara Conelli provided a review copy of this book for this post. All opinions are my own.
(Andrea Katz, Great Thoughts)
There's no question author Barbara Conelli understands la dolce vita! Her new book Chique Secrets Of Dolce Vita offers the reader unique, intimate and extremely useful information. If you are planning a trip to Italy and in particular to the areas around Milan, Lake Como, or Cinque Terre, this book should be your constant guide as there are tips I would be surprised to find anywhere else. Ms. Conelli's knowledge of the areas and some of the very special people who inhabit them will make your visit more special than any standard guide book. However this is also a book to be read by those who are not traveling. It's delightful, humorous, and educational, offering everyone the opportunity to lose themselves in la dolce vita wherever you happen to be.
So to date, in my lifetime I have visited and experienced the dolce vita of Rome, Florence, Pisa and most of Tuscany in Italy. Now I can add Milan, and truly believe I have experienced it and its amour first hand as I have the other cities. The difference is I have never physically been in Milan, but after reading the beautiful account of “the sweet life” of this fabulous northern Italian city by Barbara Conelli in her book, CHIQUE SECRETS OF DOLCE VITA, I feel I have been there without leaving the comfort of my reading chair.
From the first word you are enveloped into the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Milan and the surrounding sights. You are gripped by her account of her experiences in this great city until the last page.
“To live a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses…It means being aware of yourself, of your emotions and desires…There is a place where you can learn all this…”
Ms. Conelli’s vivid use of words to bring to life the Milanese people, especially the women, paints pictures that would otherwise be left to the craft of a photographer with the camera lens, as his easel.
“Italian women do not flaunt their clothes but themselves. They do not doubt their immense female power and they do not worry about pseudo-imperfections. They are self-confident and proud of themselves.”
Your mouth will water and stomach grumble as you read her poetic wording of the northern Italian food delights. Ms. Conelli continues with her fluent use of the English language to lure you into the smells and sites of this alluring city.
I just love Ms. Conelli’s beautifully written tale of “Go To Verdi’s.” This is just one of the many highlights of her lovely novel but resonates with me because I have been in this situation in my life a couple of times and wish I could have banished a few people straight to “Verdi’s.” Relationship woes are truly international.
“The next time someone throws you out of balance quite diabolically, avoid corny clichés and don't tell them to go to hell or to other hostile parts, but straight to Verdi's. As an angry spur, it is a much more elegant, glamorous, and beautifully Milanese solution.”
Ms. Conelli has a good handle on the musings of the human spirit and our pursuit for the perfect life. And thus has found an understanding in the people of northern Italy living a dolce vita. She shares their philosophy to living the perfect life and once you grasp this concept you will want strive to live by it also.
“Most of us keep pursuing the image of a perfect life, perfect job, perfect relationship, and a perfect account balance. We look around ourselves, watch others, compare ourselves to them, and we always want something more, something better…So while chasing the perfect life, we don’t forget the present one, which might not be so bad at all.”
Ms. Conelli’s collaboration with Illustrator, Nela Vadlejchova has achieved simple, well-placed pen drawings with enough detail to tempt your senses into imagining what really is beyond the description of the scenario they enhance.
In the end, will you not only fall in love with Milan (and Ms. Conelli’s writing) like I have, but you will want to visit it as soon as you can. So use the “Dolce Vita Notes” pages found at the end of the book to strategically plan your next vacation, of course, to Milan. Just purchase a copy for your travel agent as a gift, and firmly explain to her that you want to go to “everything” written between the covers. She’ll thank you for being so organized.
PS – a little word of advice: DO NOT read this book when you are hungry as you will devour the story too fast… and you don’t want to miss one word, I promise you.
As one whose paternal grandparents are both from Italy (Naples & Salerno), I engaged this book with great eagerness. The opportunity to travel is both a great privilege and a true gift. For those of us who yearn for this opportunity, this book is a gift.
Perhaps the best way to travel is with someone who intimately knows the destination. These travel companions open doors for us and reveal little known secrets that make the adventure ever so intimate. This is Barbara Conelli’s gift. In devouring each chapter, arm in arm with my seasoned travel companion, I could smell, taste, see, touch, and hear Milan in countless tantalizing and delightful ways. From the sweet aromas wafting seductively from Pasticceria Da Antonietta, to the delicately delectable pesce di como and risotto alla Milanese, and from the brilliant art of The Naughty Genius to the feel of fine Italian fabrics and leather is a uniquely traditional cultural tapestry woven together with the lovely sounds of the most lyrical and alluring language on the planet. Yes, evoke all of this and you are in Italy.
As if this isn’t enough, Barbara reveals even more Italian treasures. She has a gift for sharing her experience in a most intimate way. When I finished this book, her friends were my friends. This is why you will hold these pages in your heart long after you have read them.
Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is full of delicious and beautiful Italian appetizers --- stories that will enchant, enliven, and entertain you. But mostly they will remain with you and beacon you to experience Italy yourself. The lure is overpowering, so be forewarned.
As for me, I’m calling Francesca to count me in at the next gathering of women at Il Savini, where I can indulge my senses and realize my own beauty reflected in the faces of those wonderful women who know and love who they are. And you know that Barbara will certainly be there. Bravo!
"To live a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses."~Barbara Conelli
Conelli has put together another amazing book to inspire you to live a dolce vita! The collection of stories in her latest bestseller "Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita" are full of romance, empowerment and humor. As you read these entries you are whisked away to a new place, a place you will find your a dolce vita in your heart, mind and spirit!
CHIQUE SECRETS OF DOLCE VITA, by Barbara Conelli, is a fascinating tour of Milan, Italy with vignettes of the city and its inhabitants. This book is 141 pages from Flagrans Press illustrated by Nela Vadlejchova. Ms Conelli gives the reader twenty-two vignettes of her favorite city, which may also be used as a travel guide, a brief history lesson, or a reader’s pleasant escape.
Ms Conelli says, “Living a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses. . . Let’s simply uncover all the sweet, passionate, and dark Milanese secrets that have up to now remained unrevealed. The chique secrets will teach you to live your own dolce vita no matter where you are in the world. Because la vita e bella, life is beautiful, and the most amazing wonders of this world often hide in the simplest things.”
Later, she writes, “Most of us keep pursuing the image of a perfect life, perfect job, perfect relationship, and a perfect bank account balance. We look around ourselves, watch others, compare ourselves to them, and we always want something more, something better. Ambitions and desire for a better life are definitely a healthy part of us, and engine that keeps pushing us forward and prevents us from stagnating. But sometimes we should just stop for a while and learn to enjoy the little, ordinary things. A beautiful summer morning, a good meal in nice company, or a trip to the mountains. All those small details that make us so happy. So while chasing the perfect life, we don’t forget the present one, which might not be so bad at all.” In addition to colorful Milanese residents, Ms Conelli reveals historic details. Since I love history, I was pleased to learn about Vittorio Emanuelle II, Padre della Patria (Father of the Land). Embarrassing to admit, but I had never read about this democratic king who unified Italy into a republic against the Habsburgs’ Austria. He turned Italian cities into urban centers that rivaled Paris and London.
I also enjoyed learning about Italian silk production started in the 12th century and which still continues on a small scale today. Who knew? Ms Conelli says that “When you buy a piece of silk here, it is not just a common fashion accessory that you can get anywhere in the world. It holds a piece of history, a piece of honest, patient work, and most of all, lots of love that local manufacturers have been giving to their beloved silk for hundreds of years.
CHIQUE SECRETS OF DOLCE VITA contained many more tidbits, but if I related them that would spoil the book for readers. This book will be of interest to readers who like traveling vicariously through a book or those who plan a trip to Milan.
In Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita Barbara Conelli shares with us her lighthearted yet insightful view of the world of Milan, Italy. Through her eyes, we learn that Milan is a not simply a city, but a life experience, with many moods, tastes and desires. Most of all we learn that if we open our senses to Milan and its surrounding countryside, we can learn to simply enjoy life and live it to its fullest.
In her part fascinating history lesson, part intriguing travelogue Ms. Conelli guides us on a journey woven through the little towns around Milan as well as its various quarters. On the journey she shows us the very best of life from outstanding fashion and style to the subtleties of exquisite meals and drinks. With humor and poetic language she shows us unique places to meet friends old or new and simply enjoy a sunny day or a cool evening.
Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita is about life and how to live it well. Ms. Conelli shares with us the past and present of Milan, and gives us a taste of the lives of the people whose zest for life is to be admired and, if possible, copied. Whether you are able to visit Milan one day, or not, you will be infused with a zest for life similar to the people and places that inhabit the pages of this delightfully educational and pleasant book.
This is a funny quick read that had me smiling, laughing and dreaming all at once over a few glasses of wine enjoying the moment in my backyard. This book covers stories from Milanese Women, the men that have fallen prey to their beauty and lust and the life you can lead when you live the Dolce Vita life.
Indulge in life with all your senses is one of the first sentences in the book, I was hooked and did not put the book down. Live every day as if it were your first and last. The books has characters that you meet who are living the Dolce Vita life who are free spirits such as Carla the 35 year old that lives in Milan, Italy. She is in the fashion industry and I was quite amused reading a bit about her and just as excited learning more about these fabulous women.
Chique Secrets Of Dolce Vita is a tale of travel and life stories about the exceptional women of Milan and living dolce vita.
Author Barbara Conelli shares with the reader the life and people of Milan, Italy and its surrounding countryside. Portions of the novel deal with the historical aspects that have created the beauty that is unsurpassed in Milan. We learn that the women who make up Milan are the cities life and strength and the city shines as a glorious woman herself, with many hidden facets, all waiting to be explored.
Dolce Vita is a bohemian lifestyle, where one is free to express themselves as wish as long as it harms no one. There is no rhyme or reason to living dolce vita other than your own character and style that creates the essence of you. In Milan, Como, Bellagio and other quaint and charming places around the seaside of Italy, you will learn of its history, from its renaissance artists to its famous wines to the expensive spice of Saffron just to name a few.
You will hear of her people, her delicacies, and the heartbeat that continues to breath throughout the land: the etiquette, the chique, the rich and the poor all intermingle with one another, blending together a tapestry of life that will leave you wanting to pack your bags and experience the lifestyle of those who call Milan their home. It will leave you wanting to live your own dolce vita!!
I thought this was a very easy read, that was told with much delight and spontaneous life. I found myself smelling the seashore and tasting the pastries being described. I could almost feel the silk brush against my cheek and smell the smoke from the cigarettes that waft through the air. The words are encouraging and heart-warming which leaves you yearning to live dolce vita.
Until reading this book, I had no idea such a term was penned. I have always believed life would be so much more simpler if we all lived as we choose, as long as it hurt no one and to find dolce vita left me with a warm fuzzy knowing that there are people in this world who are experiencing exactly what I wish for us all to! To live as a woman and not have to worry about sexual overtures, unless you warrant such, the free flow of womanhood can really be celebrated in such a setting and I think everyone should taste such. This book took me to that place I needed to go and I recommend this book for a little escape, for a little wonder and for remembering that we all need to live dolce vita!
This was a fun book to read. It made me smile because it reminded me of myself at eighteen when I was totally fascinated with Italy after a two month stay with my extended family in Rome. Conelli's love for Milan rivals my love for Rome, and so I understood her enchantment with all things “Milanese”. This feeling was contagious, making me want to go visit all the places she mentions in this cute book.
This is a quick read, interspersed with black and white sketches of the people and places Conelli introduces to us that add just the right amount of flare to her travel anecdotes. The author writes with a certain innocence mingled with an explicit joie de vivre, so although she describes everything with rose-tinted glasses, her love for the dolce vita permeates the pages, and I couldn't help liking her exuberant and positive outlook. It's the perfect book to read if you're feeling gloomy!
What I appreciated most about this book is that Conelli reminded me of how wonderful it is to take the time to appreciate one's heritage and culture. As she led me through the streets of Milan, from Lake Como to La Scala to Galleria of Vittorio Emanuelle and the winding alley streets, she shared the history of the people and places that shaped Milan, such as Mila Schon, the icon of the Milanese fashion world and Verdi, whose opera beginnings at La Scala were memorable to say the least.
If you like to travel or have a friend who likes to explore new places, this book will have them nodding in understanding of the love we can have for certain places on this beautiful globe. I will pass it on to my youngest sister who lives in Switzerland and often visits Italy. I'm sure it will spark in her the desire to pay Milan a visit.