Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria – Clare Pedrick

Published by Matador

Ebook and Paperback July 2015

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy. 

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.” 

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does. 

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try. 

Author Clare Pedrick very kindly wrote a guest post for my blog last year, which you can read here, and recently Chickens Eat Pasta finally got to the top of my review list.  I’m so sorry it’s taken so long Clare! 

I think Clare could either be considered either very brave or very foolish to buy a derelict property in the Italian countryside on just one visit and without even having any kind of survey or legal work done (I’m a legal conveyancing secretary and just the very idea of buying a property in this way horrified me!) but compared to our cold and wet English weather and with no real reason to stay here, I could well understand the attraction of an Umbrian idyll. 

This is an autobiographical account of Clare’s life in Italy but written as a novel, with some characters whose identities have been changed, however despite this, it still comes across as a very personal story.  In between chapters describing her integration into the Italian way of life and the work to the house, there are hints that she is leaving behind her life in San Massano – we don’t know what has happened or why the change in circumstances and its only later in the book that we find out what really happens.

I really enjoyed Chickens Eat Pasta.  I became so engrossed in Clare’s way of life, the problems of trying to do her work as a journalist without having a telephone or internet connection at home, the battles with bureaucracy and the problems with some of the locals and their dirty dealings. I certainly didn’t envy her the harsh reality of living in a dilapidated house with no heating and with very basic amenities, however the friendships forged with some of the locals were a joy to read.  It wasn’t all perfect, whilst some turned out to be wonderful friends, there were others that were scoundrels but their distinct personalities all added to the flavour of the story.  There are a lot of characters to get to grips with – I couldn’t keep up with who was part of which family but I just went along with the story. 

The house is situated in a little village called San Massano, about an hour and half’s train ride from Rome.  The location alone sounded idyllic but the descriptions of the food and local produce were just mouthwatering.   We don’t just stay in Umbria, Clare’s story also takes place in Naples and Rome – all with the same excellent sense of place and characterisation. 

This is more than just a story of renovating a property.  Its about love and friendship and making a new life.  Its a story that I very much enjoyed and would definitely recommend it.

My thanks to the author and Netgalley for the e-copy to read.

For more information, the excellent book site Tripfiction has a very interesting interview with Clare Pedrick.  

About the author:

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

Twitter – @ClarePedrick

Facebook – Chickens Eat Pasta

Troubador Publishing – Chickens Eat Pasta

Amazon UK


1 thought on “Chickens Eat Pasta: Escape to Umbria – Clare Pedrick”

  • This memoir really takes you to Italy, with all the food, some tricky encounters, and the wonderful characters that really come to life in the hands of this capable author.

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