Books & Literature

Book Review: Ciao Bella! by Kate Langbroek

MEMOIR: Kate Langbroek’s deliciously funny and inspiring memoir about moving to Italy with her family to seek la dolce vita.

Funny and heart-warming stories from Kate Langbroek’s two-year stint in a foreign country with a husband and four kids.

Kate Langbroek is a born storyteller. She has a way with words that makes you laugh and cry along with her. Langbroek is best known for her television and radio presence. She spent many years as co-host on the Hughesy and Kate radio show, and is now on the 3pm Pick-Up on KIIS FM. She has also been a regular on The Panel, Thank God You’re Here, Dancing with the Stars and The Project. She is well known to most Australians.

Ciao Bella! is the story of her two-year stint in Bologna, Italy, with her husband and four children. The trip of a lifetime, which was originally going to be one year, was a chance to spend quality time with her family after navigating through the horror of childhood leukemia with her son Lewis. She dreamt of long lunches, wandering along cobbled laneways eating bread and drinking wine. The reality was quite different. One year became two and then Covid changed everything. They had to negotiate home schooling, finding new places to shop, getting back to Australia to visit Kate’s seriously ill father, flying back to Italy, then eventually finding flights to get the whole family home. All difficult in a country where you are fluent in the local language but much more stressful when you have minimal Italian.

Kate’s story starts with the planning (and inevitable angst from children who don’t want to leave their friends and family) to arrival and making a life in a new city, finding schools, and continuing her radio show from the other side of the world.

Split into two parts and with 47 chapters, there is something for everyone to relate to. Whether it be school drop off, shopping, finding somewhere to eat, meeting new people, making new friends or finding beauty in things by just stopping and taking some time out. Kate’s stories are full of life. The reader can easily imagine being in Italy and experiencing the inevitable lows and highs. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, poignant moments and deeply moving moments. Kate also shares times when it all seems too much and you just want something familiar:

“I am tired of having to walk everywhere because we don’t have a car; tired of endless aching flights of stairs; tired of talking like a toddler in a foreign tongue.”

Those who have lived for a time in a different country will easily empathise with her.

Kate writes as she speaks and, in her eloquence, you can hear her voice relating her stories to you as you read. Her love for and frustration with her beloved family comes through at all times and she is refreshingly honest. The Italians live life to the full and Kate certainly embraced their culture, food and way of life.

This book makes you want to experience a new culture. It makes you want to travel again. It makes you want to go to Italy. Ciao Bella! is an inspiring story for anyone who likes a good yarn.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: November 2021
RRP: $32.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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