I love southern Italy because: a pair of great-grandparents came from a village there; the history is so long and varied it continually surprises and delights me; the food and wine are magnifico; historical costumes are not made with polyester; the people are friendly and tell wonderful stories.

In 2004, I visited Italy for three months (one in February/March, and another from August to October) , and it’s always my first choice of travel destination.  When I go back, you’ll know!

I am a writer with a special interest in medieval history, and am working on a novel set in southern Italy. My head is full of stories of the medieval Mediterranean region, and I’m working to harvest full-grown novels from some of those seeds, too.

The header photo shows off the beautiful towers of Pacentro, near Sulmona in Abruzzo.

Sandra Frykholm


29 thoughts on “About

  1. Years ago I have subscribed to this website and blog. I only added my email address to your mailing list so to read your news but since then I keep receiving messages from agencies proposing me to improve the website to offer a better visibility etc. I am not the owner of this website, I was only a reader but it looks like that the blog is dead and the website has been asbandoned. Perhaps somebody still accessing it may suggest me what to do to exit and stop being bothered by a lot of spam messages.
    Thank you
    Franco Muia francomuia@gmail.com

  2. Hello from San Diego!!
    I’m planning a visit to Italy. I have never been. My mom always wanted to go so, I will be going for her. My Mom’s grandparents are from Scigliano.

    • Hi Janna, I’m a Heritage specialist working in Calabria. I have just completed a research at Scigliano for one of my clients looking for the roots of her family. I spent a couple of days in this beautiful village which I higly recommend for a visit. If you need any assistance please contact me. Ciao!
      Franco Muia – francomuia@gmail.com

  3. Hi Sandra

    I found your Italy blog and I wondered whether you would be interested in having a look at my about to be published “Living in Italy: the Real Deal – How to survive the Good Life”. From your blog I found that you have an interest in books about Italy.
    The book contains sixty short stories about my adventures as a Dutch expat who moved to Italy in 2008 to start a bed and breakfast. It is the translation of the Dutch original that met with considerable success (sold 3000 copies) and had very positive readers’ reviews.

    Author bio:
    Stef Smulders was born in The Netherlands in 1960 and moved with husband Nico and their dog to Italy in 2008 to start bed-and-breakfast Villa I Due Padroni in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese south of Milan. In 2014 he published his first volume of short, anecdotical stories (in Dutch) about daily life among the Italians entitled “Italiaanse Toestanden”. It was well received by readers, leading to a second volume of witty anecdotes. A third volume is to be published spring 2017.

    Book summary:
    In 2008 the author emigrated to Italy, bringing husband and dog along, to start Bed & Breakfast Villa I Due Padroni. But a lot of hurdles had to be taken before the first guests could be accommodated. In 2014 Stef reported about his adventures in buying and reconstructing the house, obtaining a tax number and a bank account, registering at the commune and at the national health service, importing their car and a range of other things that lead to a myriad of bureaucratic troubles. These problems were always resolved in a truly Italian fashion, leading to raised Dutch eyebrows and hilarious scenes. As a reader you will encounter a range of characteristic Italians, from sympathetic to villainous, from moving to shameless. Real Italians of flesh and blood, sometimes cliché, somtimes surprisingly original. But always worth encountering.

    Goodreads page:

    Have a look at my presentation page as well with fragments and a sneak preview if you like:

    I could send you the epub or pdf if you want to.

    Hope to hear from you
    Cari saluti

    • Stef, thanks for your note. Since my blog focuses on southern Italy rather than the north, do you have any experience in the south that might make a good blog post about that part of the country (pretty much everything south of Lazio, including Sicily)? I’d be happy to have a guest post from you with mention of your book and B&B. Let me know what you think. Sandy

  4. have you ever heard of St Peter Celestine catholic church in Celestine, In. There is a picture there with a very interesting past. If you are interested in hearing more you can contact me at my email

  5. I just found this. My parents were from Piedimonte Matese. I wish that I found this before they died. Maybe, they could have shed light on Salvatore and the priest.

  6. Hello,

    I see these posts are fairly old so I hope this message reaches you.

    In the last couple of months you turned me on to Goodreads and MOOCs in addition to all the content about southern Italy. I wanted to thank you for that. I have been meaning to write for a long time. I recently visited San Sostene with my father. It is a small village on the coast in Catanzaro, Calabria. I’ve read many, many books set in the region ranging from the time period of my grandparents and parents to more modern times. I hope to get a list together soon so I can share, I consider this reading research because I’m working on a book about my own parent’s struggles and eventual immigration to America. I think is give me a good feel for their struggles from a different perspective.

    I am happy to have found this website and thank you for it. If you would like to see some video of my Calabrian trip you can check out my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/rcrough. Some books I would recommend if you haven’t read them already, Calabrian Tales and Out of Calabria by Peter Chiarelli and more modern: The Autogrille Murder by Marty Sturino. There is also Hoods by Rosa Capano Croughwell (yes that’s me) an autobiography that I mainly wrote for future generations of mine but I’ve been told it gives some interesting insight into growing up as a first generation Italian daughter.

    Thanks again for this website and your effort. I hope to hear more from you in the future.
    Rosa Capano Croughwell

    • Rosa, Thanks for your comments! I have one of Peter Chiarelli’s books on my “to be read” shelf, and I will put yours on my list too. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. When we were in Italy last August we had lunch at Soverato, very close to your village. We had a delicious seafood lunch there on Ferragosto. Sandy

      • Hi! I just found your bog – after reading a few interesting posts (really liked the Sicilian wedding carts, by the way), I checked out the “About” and wanted to “contribute” my book on Calabria to your list. It’s non-fiction, but there are a lot of personal anecdotes, stories, etc. It’s called Calabria: The Other Italy. More about it and on Calabria and Italy on by website/blog.

        In addition, for some reason the Sicilian wedding cart made me think of Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes – basically a series of short stories hooked together by a concertina that was brought to the US by an Italian immigrant. Unfortunately, the instrument’s original owner doesn’t do well and the accordion then gets passed from one immigrant to another. A bit of a downer, but an excellent study of the immigrant experience.

      • Hey Sandy….we were there at the same time! We stayed in a beautiful place in Davoli Marina called aquamarine residence. Highly recommended it. Right next to Soverato


  7. Hi Sandra: Thank you for the positive feedback on one of my earlier blog posts…I’ve lived in Southern Italy myself awhile ago (Naples)…and I’m still missing it. I would like to know if you would be interested in beta reading my upcoming book about my mother’s experiences as a little girl growing up in Italy during WWII. thanks…tom

  8. “the food and wine are magnifico”… I agree!! :D
    I attend the university in south of italy, in Bari. I’ll follow your blog, it’s great read impressions about your own place and improve english.
    Hoping to have done no mistakes (i didn’t even use google translate, yeah!), greetings from Italy. :)

  9. What a superb read. It brought back fond memories of my visit to Italy a couple of years ago. Sandy, my thumb is positioned to push the download button when your book is ready.

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