It can be difficult to put aside time for what you really love. We have work to do, bills to pay, and if you’re living a hectic city life, it can be hard to get a breather when you really need one. Add to that kids, and the equation gets even more difficult. City lives are constantly bustling, and it can be hard to make time for what you truly love – at least not without drastically making changes. Which is exactly what Pip Williams and her family did.
One Italian Summer is Pip Williams’ heartfelt memoir, required reading for anyone who has ever wondered if the grass was greener over the hill. Struggling in a job that she wasn’t passionate about down in Adelaide, along with her husband and two children, Pip makes a sudden decision. One night, talking to husband Shannon, they realise they’re not living their best lives. Weeknights have been taken over by reality television on the couch, and mornings are a hubbub of making hasty sandwiches for the kids’ lunches. So Pip comes to realise something.
What she really loves is baking bread. It sounds odd, but that feeling of making sourdough from scratch and watching the bread rise as it bakes brings her comfort. She tries to fit this in around her corporate job, as well as her passions of farming, and knitting horrible alpaca wool beanies for her kids, but it’s not enough. The fruit is falling and rotting on the ground, their chickens died, and therapy isn’t doing anything.
But Italy always helps.
Pip, Shannon, and her boys, Riley and Aidan, pack up, rent out the house in Adelaide, and decide to get some real hands on experience working on a farm. After all, simple food and simple living will make life simpler, right? They head into Rome, and then decide to head down to Tuscany to go WWOOFing, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms. But they realise that simple living might not be so simple after all, and after a hard summer with more twists than one could have expected, Pip and her family return to Adelaide with their dreams shattered – and reformed into something new.
One Italian Summer is delightfully witty and honest. You can feel the summer heat of Italy, not only in the scenes Pip describes, but in the wholeheartedly warm tone she speaks to us with. She conjures the warmth of Italy with great skill, and will leave you aching to go wandering through Italy. There is a deep love of place and life in this book, and above all, enduring love of family. It’s about finding la dolce vita, and realising that it may have been right under your home the whole time. But sometimes you have to go away so you can realise just what it is you left behind.
Pip Williams was born in London and grew up in Sydney. She has spent most of her working life as a social researcher and is co-author of the book Time Bomb: Work, Rest and Play in Australia Today (NewSouth Press, 2012). Her creative non-fiction has been published in InDaily and The Australian and produced for Radio Northern Beaches, and she is very proud of a poem she published in Dolly magazine when she was fifteen years old. Pip Williams lives in the Adelaide Hills with her partner, two boys and an assortment of animals.