Does This Country Make Me Look Fat? Guest Post By Melissa Kulp Frankenfield

This morning, someone asked if I was pregnant. Again. *Sigh* And she was a beggar. So, it was practically a hate crime.

Since this faux-pregnant gal is all for improving human-relations, I just graciously smiled (and swore off eating) as I assured her “No, bambini! No bambini! Mi dispiace.” I actually apologized. For not being pregnant. Does this country make me look fat? Apparently. No thanks to my steady diet of wine with a side of wine.

Here are my (unsubstantiated) anthropological findings: Italy is a study in contrasts. Legislation and liberty. Restraint and moxie. Beauty and decay.

For example: The Italian government gives trash removal the same oversight a TSA agent grants a passenger named “Kamil” with pilot’s license. Clear plastics must be separated from colored plastics which must be separated from glass which must be separated from paper and so on. Basically, it’s the IRS of trash laws.

So, you have that regulation. And then you have this liberty: While recently dining at a local trattoria, the proprietor/probable mafia godfather approached my entourage. The invariable first question is always as to whether all three are mine. All. Three. Friends, “three” does not even qualify me for a TLC reality show.  But, maybe I just seem that overwhelmed. Or like a child-trafficker.  You decide.

*Tight smile* Yes, yes, they are all mine. But, we aren’t sure about the father.


Then, suddenly, this hairy godfather reached down and plucked my toddler right out of his seat, holding him in his floured arms as he pinched his cheek and kissed his head.  Kissed. His. Head. And I hadn’t even signed a “photo release” form yet. Liability release forms. That was my first thought as he affectionately stroked my toddler’s chubby face. On one hand- I can hardly blame the guy. My man-child is edibly adorable. It’s his fatness. (An unfair asset for only the very young.) But, still, can you imagine a comparable situation in say- an Olive Garden? Um, never.  You would be on Megan’s List, labeled as a predator before the day ended.

But, to be honest- my “creeper radar” registered nothing on this old mafia kingpin. Most likely, he was one of those fabled Italians, who actually love children. And frankly, it is the trash police that we could do without. Cause ain’t nobody got time for that.

About The Author:

Melissa Kulp Frankenfield is a washed-up high school actress. Obscure pageant finalist. Child-wrangler. Homeschooler. Wannabe spy.


Miss Italy Wants To Relive WWII

It’s not every day that your husband sends you an article that makes you question whether or not humans should be wiped from the face of the planet. It’s mostly every other day, and especially a few days ago when I read about Alice Sabatini, otherwise known as Miss Italia 2015. I’m worried, guys, that our species is beyond fixing. Sure, we’ve poisoned the planet, destroyed our own ecosystem, and are currently experiencing mass extinction only ever seen before during DINOSAUR TIMES, but I like to think, to hope, that if enough really good people breed (and the assholes stop) we can turn things around.

Now, I’m no so sure. We might be totally doomed, guys.

20/09/2015 Jesolo - Concorso di bellezza Miss Italia - Alice Sabatini Miss Italia 2015

20/09/2015 Jesolo – Concorso di bellezza Miss Italia – Alice Sabatini Miss Italia 2015 (

If you haven’t heard about Miss WWII, well, you’re in for a real treat. Here’s the story, according to The Chronicle,

“”A Miss Italy contestant has faced ridicule after telling judges she would like to experience World War Two.

When asked which historical period she would most like to live in, 18-year-old Alice Sabatini paused for a moment before replying “1942” – one of the darkest years in Italian history under the Mussolini dictatorship.

Likely a little baffled, a woman on the beauty contest judging panel asked: “1942? During World War Two?”

Sabatini confirmed her choice and said she had read a lot about the period.

“Well… to see really what the Second World War was like, since the books talk about it for page after page. I want to live it.

“In any case I am a woman so I wouldn’t have had to do military service, so I would have been at home with the fear of…” she said, trailing off with a light laugh.””

She wanted to live during WWII guys, cause, ya know, Hitler, Mussolini, assholes galore, why the fuck not? Plus, she has a vagina, so all she’d have to do is, ya know, sit home hungry (food wasn’t exactly plentiful during the war) and wait for her brothers, husband, and childhood friends to be shipped home in body bags. Yay!

English: The image is a depiction of Benito Mu...

English: The image is a depiction of Benito Mussolini from 1917 when he was a soldier of World War I Italiano: Benito Mussolini nel 1917 durante la Prima guerra mondiale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here’s what people on Twitter are saying in response to this eighteen-year-old super genius. It’s pretty damn hilarious, I highly suggest all of you to #MissItalia right this minute. It’s glorious.


And if you’re thinking that things couldn’t get any weirder with this pretty lady, later, when asked which Italian historical figure she admired she smiled, proudly, and giggled, “Michael Jordan.”

Clearly, Miss Italia chosen for her amazing intellect and not at all for her impressive brazillian bikini wax. Sigh. Universe, please help us.


The Eternal Holiday: Guest Post By Jenni Midgley

I read an article in a popular British magazine the other day. It was about a girl who had been on holiday for three years.

They mean holiday as in, she had quit her draining 9-5 job and decided to travel the world. She has now been on the road for a substantial period of time..

I refute calling this a holiday, it’s simply a new option, a new lifestyle that many people make a life out of. I’m someone who’s  doing the same. It’s not a holiday, holiday suggests its lesser somehow to staying put, to doing the same job for 25 years, buying a house, getting married and churning out babies.

It’s enviable yeah, which is probably why those in the ‘real world’ need to call it a holiday.

What I call it is challenging yourself to work out what really makes you happy.

For me London wasn’t making me happy. I don’t have some demon that I’m running away from (wait, do I? DO I?), I do have wonderful friends in England, London especially. I had a lovely job. But I knew there was something I needed to explore. Living somewhere warmer, meeting new, open-minded people, learning another language, seeing beautiful things every single day.

So, I saved some money – not loads, but enough. I stayed on friends’ couches for as long as I could get away wIth, saving three months rent, which in London is a sizeable amount and then I flew to Rome.

I mainly travel to find door porn

I mainly travel to find door porn

The main roadblock for people is the money thing. Relax, it really is different once you start your adventure. You will be amazed at how easy it is to get about now for a lowly sum. You don’t have to eat out at fancy restaurants – in fact, make it your mission to meet locals. Work out how they live their life and see if you enjoy doing the same.

I knew I wasn’t up for trekking about with a big old backpack for two years, so i started with Italy. Knowing I wanted to see it properly, be immersed in the culture, learn the language and see a lot of it, that was the extent of my plan.

I started with a few weeks WWOOFING, which cost me next to nothing. By the time I was done, I was ready for the cultural stuff – ie. I learned so much from living and breathing my hosts lives that I knew I’d be able to hold my own alone.

I also made friends this way. You’ll be amazed the huge difference that travel friends make. They are intense relationships and they really pay dividends, the kindness of ‘strangers’ never ceases to amaze me.

Opportunities continually arise because of those I’ve met on the road. That’s how I ended up house-sitting in Imola for two weeks (cost: nothing), that’s how I ended up in an Air BnB apartment with an American I met the day before (experience: FUN , cost:little, privacy: lovely).

Imola - cleaner than a clean thing

Imola – cleaner than a clean thing

Sharing Air BnB's-Local Style

Sharing Air BnB’s-Local Style

If you want to get from one place to another, don’t panic. Use Blah Blah Car, look at train prices – there are simply hundreds of ways to save money these days. Every time I use Blah Blah Car in Italy, I meet lovely good-spirited Italians who know stuff. Ask your co-passengers questions, you never know where it might lead. I also love BBC as you get to see the country you’re staying in.

Of course, all of this is a little bit of a headache sometimes. I like to have bases when I’m travelling – they make me feel more calm. But, if you’re in a city for a couple of days. Book a hostel for a couple of nights and see what happens.

Perks of housesitting - Ravenna

Perks of housesitting – Ravenna

Hostels – of course read reviews, if you’re 30 don’t go for some monster raving loony 18-year old party hostel. There’s something for everyone out there now and people who are backpacking want to talk to other people who are backpacking, it’s as simple as that.

I guess the main thing I should address is the idea of loneliness. Travelling solo, travelling as a girl solo, has a few alarm-bell type strings attached to it. Please believe me when I say, you won’t feel alone. You may physically spend time alone. But isn’t that great? It only takes one person in one place, to make you feel like someone’s got your back.

I sometimes crave more time alone! I like to wander the streets of another country, people looking at you not knowing why this old pasty non-Italian is in Imola. Being the local freak is great and then, guess what? You’re not alone. Local inhabitants of any non-tourist spot the world over are desperate to know what you’re up to and ask you questions.

Obviously, don’t be yelling English at all the locals, telling them what you’re doing there, what I’m saying is some people will be attracted to you and want to know what you’re doing.

Right now I’m a little more static, to people back home it’s exotic, I’m off to live in an apartment in Bologna and go on adventures (it’s a great place to get to other places in Italy) while writing and desperately trying to make more friends. For me, almost three months into my life ‘abroad’ it’s become a little less exotic, a little more just-my-life. I find that the anxieties I might have had in England don’t raise their little heads so much here. I don’t panic about money, I see each day as an opportunity instead. I don’t worry about relationships (friend, male, female, love, animal) as I have an Italian phone now which (surprise, surprise) helps with that stuff. I just try and go with the flow while still keeping hold of my identity.

The author- On Top Of A Mountain

The author- On Top Of A Mountain

It’s not always La Dolce Vita but, so far, it sometimes feels damn close. Yes, that may because I’m comparing it to commuting from Peckham to Oxford Street every morning (I resent all phrases such as HappyHumpDay, HappyFriday, SundayBlues – every day should be as good as the one before or after!) but trust me, you just need to be brave and see what happens.

If everything goes tits up, we can all return from whence we came. God I hope not.



Jenni Midgley is a 20-something writer. She left her 9-5 editorial role in London to reinvigorate her lost sense of adventure and to take more naps by the sea. She currently resides in Bologna, enjoying good food, better wine and writing about what happens whenever she leaves her apartment at She loves Instagram.

Three Years Ago Today I Married My Italian Man

Three years ago I married a badass Italian man in freezing cold Park City with my family and friends and Francesco’s awesome friends who flew in from all over the world (6 months later we married again in Italy).

Our best friends gave terrifying/sweet speeches, we danced (and my step mom learned to cut the cake), and celebrated our majestic union. Three years and nobody has been strangled. Totally killing this marriage thing. Thanks, Francesco, for smirking at my OCD, making fun of my terrible temper, and loving my friends and family like they were your own. You’re the best (like way better than that one bitches husband), and I’m so happy to fall asleep every night next to you, mildy tangled in your luxurious chest hair.

To forever! Or until one if us taps out (but if you tap our first I’ll hire a hitman…cause LOVE ME). Tanti baci…to the man who has made me a more empathetic, tolerant, open person. I love you. Aggressively.


Italian In-Laws: We’re Making A Baby… Since You Guys Are Taking Forever.

Most of you know that Francesco and I have been together for a minute. We’ve been together for six years and married for three years, tomorrow. WOO-HOO! Three years and I haven’t stabbed him, guys, this shit is cake! Totally got this! We’ve spent the past three years of our marriage, like most married couples in the beginning, trying to figure out what the fuck we’re going to do with our lives. He’s an engineer, i’m a writer, artist, professional spazz/idiot and we’ve been trying to find the best place for an engineer and a professional idiot to live, work, play, make babies….

Especially make babies. Enter anxiety, right about now.

I’ve written about this a few times before, about the baby thing, and about how it is GODDAMN TERRIFYING, and there are so many decisions to make! Where to raise babies, where are we the most stable financially, where do we have the most familial support? HOW DO PEOPLE EVER HAVE CHILDREN!? Also, my vagina is still slightly nervous about pushing out a watermelon-sized human, but less nervous than she was a year ago. She’s maturing. I mean, she’s not old, but she’s braver and wiser. Go, Mrs. Hoo-Haw! Now, we’re just waiting for our careers to line up, AND for it to be a solid December so I can make a virgo. Yes, I really just said that, and yes, I know it’s batshit crazy, but I’m a virgo and I love virgos. My sister is a virgo, my brother, my dad, and half of my bridesmaids at my wedding were virgos. So, why wouldn’t I want a virgo baby? An insane little OCD, adorable mushy mess, of opinionated assholeness. Doesn’t it sound cute/terrible?

Bear Lake Utah. Taking a break from real life for a minute. #Utah

A post shared by Surviving In Italy (@surviving_in_italy) on

In the meantime, everyone in our lives has been weighing in on our lack of baby-making. My eleven year old sister (a virgo) has taken to putting her mouth to my stomach and yelling into it in search of an embryo. My dad keeps telling us that our babies are going to be “retarded,” if we don’t hurry up, because he’s a shithead, and he better hope they are healthy or I’ll choke him. My friends are mostly anti-babies so they’re like, “you sure you want kids? Cause vomit is gross, plus, your hoo-haw, and also, ya know, your hoo-haw. I mean, ouch.”

Francesco’s parents, who love to take the level of weird up a notch, have taken to tutorials.

Last week we Skyped with them, because we always Skype with them, even if we’re staying in their house. We chatted about our nieces who are insanely cute, Oliver, our jobs, and of course, sex. Who doesn’t love to talk about sex with their in-laws?

“Hey guys, how are you doing? What are you doing today?” I asked them.

Francesco’s mom, “Oh, you know, nothing much,” she shrugged. Only her head was visible because she generally hides her body outside of the camera view.

Francesco’s dad leaned forward, a grin slowly spreading across his face. Then he belted out, “WE’RE GOING TO MAKE A BABY! WE’RE TRYING TO MAKE A BAAAAABY! YOU KNOW HOW?”

“Oh, my God,” Francesco shook his head and covered his face with both hands.

“Yes, we know how it works…” I smirked. I take a small pleasure in watching F squirm anytime someone says something “naughty.” The Catholic in him is fierce.

“DO YOU!? Clearly not. Or maybe you’re not doing the thing you need to do!” Francesco’s dad laughed boisterously. His wife shook her head, “no,” and rolled her eyes. Then she stepped out into full view, walked over to him, her floral nightgown trailing behind her due to the wind velocity of her sudden movement, and smacked the back of his arm with a loud, “THAP.”

“But shut up!” She laughed.

“WE DID IT!” He laughed even harder, shaking his bangs free from his perfectly formed, white, hair cloud. The new, wire-like wisps on his forehead twitched as his body heaved.

“Ew,” Francesco and I looked at each other and scrunched up our faces.

“You need to make a baby!” Francesco’s dad added, “We did  it! It’s not that difficult!”

“Okay, great, thanks mom and dad. We have to go…”


This is not the first time we’ve had this conversation over Skype, they’ve asked us to hump more once before. It is the first time that they offered some weird tutorial of the, “look what we did, you can too,” variety. Not at all disturbing. Isn’t it strange how we went from, “you two can’t sleep in a room together until you’re married,” to, “YOU SHOULD HUMP MORE!” Social norms are weird. Parents are weird. Life, well, life is super weird and it seems that it’s only getting weirder. Help, guys.

In the comments below tell me how you came to the decision to make babies, when, how, and whether or not you were coaxed by a family member, friend, or random patron in a restaurant (that’s happened to me, too).

Italy Around The Web: Weekly Roundup

Italy’s Highest Court Explains Decision To Clear Amanda Knox: “ROME — Italy’s highest court said Monday that the case against the Seattle resident Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend — whose convictions in the 2007 murder of a British student were definitively overturned in March — was marked by “culpable omissions of investigative activity” and “contradictory evidence” that raised reasonable doubt of their guilt.”

I’ve followed the case for sometime and while the evidence doesn’t seem to prove her guilty beyond reasonable doubt, that woman has shark eyes. She might not be a murderer, but she’s still creepy as hell. And Italy? Don’t you have protocol for-oh, wait. No, no you don’t.

THE DEMOLITION MAN-New Yorker “Italians who admire Matteo Renzi call him “our best hope.” More skeptical Italians say, “Well, maybe our only hope.” The Western press hedges its bets with “brash” but “confident.” And his enemies use the term il rottamatore, the demolition man. Renzi agrees with his enemies. “I’m the scrapper,” he told me. “I’m cleaning up the swamp.””

I’m not for or against Renzi but I’m interested in him and his career. From an outside perspective, it seems like he’s got the right idea in some areas. If he’s able to do what he hopes to do (fix the economy) then maybe Italy can become a real country again instead of the mess that Trump, I mean, Berlusconi left it in.

The Queen, aka, Beyonce, Frolics in Italy With Her family: 7 Photos From Her Trip To Italy-ABC “It’s been a romantic few weeks for Beyonce and Jay Z, 42, who wrote on his wife’s website on her birthday that the song “”Yellow”” by Coldplay reminded him of her. “”This song reminds me of you and I on vacation,”” he shared. “‘Look at the stars; look how they shine for you.’ So many legendary nights. It represents vulnerability; it’s us in our own world, away from work and totally lost in love.””

Awe, a fan of their work or not, they’re a cute couple. So cute it kind of makes me want to barf, but with love.

World’s Saddest Dog Begs For Forgiveness “In a video uploaded to Facebook, an Italian man’s dog begs for forgiveness for whatever it’s done. Bowing its head and giving so many one-sided hugs, the shamed pooch knows that it’s in the wrong.”

I love dogs. Dogs are my favorite. This video is adorable and kind of sad. I’d like to add that animal behaviorists don’t actually buy into the “guilty,” dog thing. Researchers actually believe that dogs are amazing at reading body language so they’re actually responding to knowing that something “bad,” is going to happen to them when you display anger or body language that the dog understands as being upset. Also? Oliver doesn’t have a guilty face. When he does something bad he displays it proudly. “Look mom! I ate the garbage!” Sigh. Dogs.



Oh, Angelo: Possibly The Hottest Italian Man Living In Florence

A month ago some friends of mine from the AZ area joined me and Francesco in Florence for a week. For the first part of our trip we stayed in an Airbnb apartment near Santo Spirito. The apartment was sunny, newly renovated and modern. Well, mostly modern. It didn’t have air conditioning for reasons I’m still trying to work out in my mind. It was July, hot as hades, my boobs were sweaty and my makeup melted down my face the second I put it on so I looked like a whimpering mime most of the time. Since it was so hot in our apartment we mostly avoided it altogether, jetting out in the a.m. and wandering the streets like dried prunes till the evening. On one particular day the heat had become too much for me (since I’m apparently a delicate flower), and I started feeling dizzy. The last thing I wanted to do was faint in the middle of the street, something I’d witnessed a few years prior when a friend of ours from Brescia visited Florence and she dropped like a sack of potatoes on the Ponte Vecchio from heat exhaustion. She spent five hours hooked up to I.V.’s while a drunk man belted out tunes across from her. No thanks. So, not wanting to faint, we beelined it back to our hot ass apartment so I could take a cold shower.

When we walked into the apartment building we were hit by a gust of cool air. Turned out that the floor level was nice and cool, the sun hadn’t managed to work its way through the three meters of cement slabs. The main floor, the hallway, felt air conditioned and glorious so my friend Karen and I took a seat on the steps until my light-headedness passed. Francesco ran upstairs to our apartment on the fourth floor to grab some bottled waters from the fridge. Karen and I talked on the cold cement steps, enjoying a few wonderful minutes away from the hot air outside that felt like a blow-dryer on the nape of your neck. My face returned to its normal tone, my cheeks lost their bright red flush, and I felt fine again.

At about this time, the front door of the apartment building opened and a tall Italian man enters dressed in a navy blue suit. His head is shaved, he’s wearing D&G sunglasses and Italian leather shoes. He shuts the door behind him, pivots, and stops cold when he sees us on the steps in front of him. A smile slowly spreads across his face, a perfect smile, revealing an excellent set of the whitest pearly whites I’ve ever seen in Italy outside of a magazine ad. He pauses there for a moment just smiling, then walks with purpose directly up to Karen and I. Standing only a few inches from our feet he cocks his head to the side, the smile has only spread wider at this point,

“Hello,” he says in Italian, “what are you doing here?”

I respond, in Italian, “It’s hot outside and it’s much cooler here. We are renting an apartment upstairs. I’m just waiting for my husband.”

He nods, “but you’re not Italian. Why do you speak Italian?”

I smile, “because my husband is Italian.”

He bows slightly, “I understand. Well, enjoy your day,” he raises his sunglasses revealing one of the most attractive faces I’ve ever seen (aside from my own husband’s). I’m not easy to impress, neither is Karen, but we were both fucking impressed. “Ciao.” He walked passed us to the apartment located directly behind where we were sitting.

He took out his keys, “I lived in the US for a while,” he put his key into the hole, “it was wonderful.”

Francesco came walking down the stairs. He saw the man talking with us and flashed me a “are you getting hit on?” smile.

“Ciao,” he said to the handsome man going into his apartment.

“Ciao,” the handsome man replied, “I was just telling your friends that I lived in America for a while.”

Francesco stopped to talk with him, “really? Where?”

Turned out, the handsome man had lived in Florida for a while, partied a great deal, worked in a number of bars, had a marvelous time, and returned to his beloved Florence.

“But why do you speak Italian?” he asked Francesco.

Francesco laughed, “Uhm, because I’m Italian?” They both laughed.

The handsome guy said goodbye and disappeared into his apartment. Francesco walked over to me and Karen,

“Wow, that guy is hot.” He noted.

“Right? Wow.”

“I can see what all the fuss is about now with Italian men,” Karen laughed, “The confidence! He walked straight up to us with a determination I’ve never seen before.”

“Oh, welcome to Italy. That’s what makes them so damn attractive, the guys, they give zero fucks. That’s exactly how Francesco was when we started dating too. Insanity.”

“I like it.”

“He’s REALLY hot,” Francesco said, again.

“Yeah babe, I noticed. You gonna leave me for him?” I laughed, “Anyway,” I stood up, “I’m going to go change. Be right back.”

“I’m coming too,” Karen followed me upstairs to our sweltering apartment.

I threw on a cooler dress and more comfortable sandals. I was on my way to meet up with Georgette from Girl In Florence and I didn’t know how far I’d be walking. Plus, I didn’t want to show up a disgusting sweaty mess so the least I could do was put on a clean dress for her. I liked her, I didn’t want to knock her out with my potent b.o.

Karen and I ran downstairs to grab Francesco before heading to a bar to meet Georgette. Only, Francesco was nowhere to be found. Karen and I waited outside, and waited, and ten minutes went by and he was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the door popped open and F stuck his head out,

“Babe, I’m hanging out with Angelo*, that’s the hot guy’s name. Come hang out!”

“Francesco, I’m going to be late!”

“Just two minutes!” Francesco grinned.

Karen and I followed Francesco into Angelo’s apartment and out to his garden where Angelo was seated, practically naked. His six pack glistened in the afternoon sun, his biceps bounced as he stood up to shake our hand.

“This is my apartment,” he said, in English this time, “I amAngelo, I own a bar nearby.” He smiled, again.

“Can I get you guys a drink? Something, else?” He paused and flashed a smile.

Angelo proceeded to roll a special variety of cigarette.

Everyone smoked the cigarette except for me because I prefer vodka.

“You sure?”Angelo asked, flashing a crooked smile.

“Yes. I’m meeting a friend for drinks.”

He shrugged.

Angelo made small talk about Florida and his life in Florence. Sweat beads occasionally fell between his well-formed pecs.

A few minutes later we excused ourselves to run towards the bar to meet Georgette. As we exited his apartment, a little old Italian woman entered from the apartment next door.

“Oh, my jesus,  his mom lives next door.”

“Of course,” Francesco added, matter-of-factly.


I’m fairly certain that he has a girlfriend because it’s impossible he doesn’t BUT  if you’re interested in seeing this majestic creature in the wild visit: LANGOLINO in Santa Spirito. I’ve heard that he can be found here often. Order drinks, and thank mother nature.

*Name changed to protect privacy.