Book 9 of 52: The Seamstress of Sardinia by Bianca Pitzorono

And here I am again, reading a book about Italy while still hoping to go to Italy soon but not having concrete plans. Hooray! (To be fair, my father is taking all of us to Disneyland this summer, so that has re-arranged my travel for part of the year).

The Italian book this time: The Seamstress of Sardinia by Bianca Pitzorono. It’s about a young girl (unnamed) living on the Italian island of Sardinia in 1900. She loses everyone but her grandmother in a cholera epidemic. As such, she learns to sew at her grandmother’s elbow. She quickly becomes a talented seamstress, often working in wealthy families’ homes, making everything from clothes to linens to underwear. The novel is a series of stories about the people in her life: her clients, her remaining family, her neighbors, herself.

This is the first book of Pitzonoro’s to be translated into English (recently too. It was published in December 2022). I’m glad it was — and that I found a copy in a Little Free Library before I left on this trip. I enjoyed it, even if I thought some of these mini stories had endings that came out of nowhere, including the final one about our unnamed seamstress. But I didn’t find these twists so off putting that I’d tell you not to read it. I zipped through the book in a few days.

If Sardinia sounds familiar, that’s because this past fall, it became one of many towns/villages/areas of Italy that is hoping to attract new residents by paying them to move there. It’s something these places are trying to bring in new people because their populations are aging, and young folks are moving out to find work. According to CNBC, Sardinia’s offer is €15,000 *IF* you move to a town with less than 3,000 people, use the money towards renovating a house, live there full time, and make Sardinia your permanent residence within 18 months.

It’s tempting, no? I’d imagine so, even if you’re not Italian like me (don’t let my last name fool you! I really am!) I follow a few surf schools and surf instructors based in Sardinia on Instagram. It looks beautiful. Of course looking and living are two different things, but that’s why we read, right? Even if The Seamstress of Sardinia is set more than 120 years ago, it’s still a peek into a place that I’d heard of but didn’t know much about.

Nail polish: Dream Dust by Nails, Inc.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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