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Book Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore – Barbara Conelli

Donna Brown794 views
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Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore (2012)
Chique Secrets of Dolce AmoreFascinating, enthralling and seductive travel and life tales about unexpected encounters with the capricious, unpredictable and extravagant city of Milan, its glamorous feminine secrets, the everyday magic of its dreamy streets, the passionate romance of its elegant hideaways, and the sweet Italian art of delightfully falling in love with your life wherever you go.

When we talk about “the city of love”, most of us immediately think of Paris, Venice, Rome or another famous metropolis whose romantic stories we know from movies and novels. But to Barbara Conelli, none of them are the real city of love. To the author, love doesn’t mean passionate gestures, big promises of eternal devotion, ardent embraces, torrid kisses, or stormy arguments followed by even stormier reconciliations.

To the author, love means something completely different and much simpler. The smell of morning cappuccino and fresh pannetone at Pasticceria Marchesi. A brisk stroll through the awakening city and sensual curves of gold shadows on the wet paving of Via della Spiga. Joyful shouts of bohemian artists and their graceful muses at Fornace Curti. A cri spy panzerotto savored in the company of cantanker ous pigeons on the piazzetta of San Fedele. Old furniture stores in narrow streets and adorable trinkets she can never resist. The tinkling of a tram from 1929 with uncomfortable wooden seats and a hundred-year-old conductor. Sublime flamingos and peevish peacocks in an emerald-green garden that has never been owned by anyone. Remote nooks and crannies whose secrets have been revealed only to her and the few ghosts with aristocratic hearts who appear in them from time to time. Visionary dreams, inextinguishable hopes, the desire to live, the courage to create, the strength to grow.

To the author, love means all this and much more. This and much more is what she receives from the city that makes you fall in love a hundred times a day, breaking your heart over and over again, only to make it beat faster five minutes later. Milan. Barbara’s city of love. The city she has adored since the year dot because i t’s just like her: it has dozens of faces, it laughs and cries at the same time, it’s vain, unpredictable, and you never know what mood it wakes up with.

Join Barbara Conelli and submerge yourself in the secrets of this magical city that has been breathing love for centuries. Love that is dignified, childish, creative, treacherous, passionate, painful, forgiving, crazy, insane, unbridled, endless, fleeting, unfaithful, platonic, carnal, hateful, desperate, volatile, conceited, and divine. The kind of love whose chalice you quickly drain, so that on the next corner, you can reach for another one, even more delicious and intoxicating.

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Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore

Welcome to Milan, as seen through the eyes of Barbara Conelli. As someone who clearly loves this city, she takes you beyond the tourist laden streets and down the back alleys of the city, to discover the parts she loves. Along the way, you will encounter some of the more well known landmarks of the city but their history will be explained in a way that goes beyond the travel guide summaries.

I have mixed feelings about Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore. The enthusiasm that Conelli has for this city is beyond criticism and this is a book that clearly has much love behind it. The various chapters have all the hallmarks of stories that have been passed from person to person and the history of Milan in this book is as much about the fiction and the legend as the facts and the figures.

Where the book falls down for me is that I feel it’s both a little short and also a little difficult for me to fully embrace as I haven’t visited Milan and feel that I don’t know enough about this city to fully appreciate the gems that the author is trying to uncover for me. To me, it’s a little like deciding to cook and suddenly going from having a vague idea of how to make toast to being in a cordon bleu cooking class.

To me, this would be a perfect gift for someone who has been to Milan or intends to go. It would be an ideal accompaniment to a guide book as it injects a wonderful dose of magic into the idea of an already intriguing city and feels like she is showing you through the secret doors of the city in order to see it in another way. It’s certainly unlike any travel book I have ever encountered and was an enjoyable – though rather short – read that I’d likely recommend to lovers of travel, Italy or both!

Verdict: 3/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy via WOW! Women on Writing in exchange for a fair and honest review)

Trailer: Chique Secrets of Dolce Amore

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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