Book review: Italy, Piedmont – The Dream, the House, the Life
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Piedmont – the Dream, the House, the Life is neither a novel nor a guidebook; think of it as an inspirational reference book, with captivating stories and helpful information in equal doses.
When I met Jesper Remo, I knew he had caught the “Piemonte bug.” Here was a man who spends half his time in Copenhagen and half in Piemonte, pursuing his passion. He’s a house hunter, helping others who want to live in Piemonte find old, beautiful dream homes, renovate them, and move to Italy (or at least have a permanent vacation home here).
Just see if this book—co-written and co-photographed with his friend and business partner Erik Bjørn—doesn’t convince you to do the same.
About Jesper Remo
Jesper’s life thus far has been nothing short of adventurous and active. He has worn the mantles of professional soccer player, business owner of a successful advertising agency, restauranteur of a wildly popular wine bar in Copenhagen with Erik Bjørn—the aptly named Nebbiolo Wine Bar—author, and as we’ve seen, house hunter.
Originally from Denmark, he first landed in Italy with his family—his wife at the time and three young daughters—in 1992. They traveled back and forth to Tuscany for six years before they began thinking about buying a home. Tuscany, however, felt too “perfect,” commercialized, to him. When he came across a website that was advertising homes in Piemonte, a region that “was a complete secret” to the Danes at the time, they went to take a look. He bought the first house he saw, near Acqui Terme.
House renovation work before, during, and after - Photo © Erik Bjorne
Jesper’s exploits in Italian life and navigating Italian bureaucracy began with the complete restructuring and remodeling of his house. Although he ran into difficulties, the man possesses a remarkably patient, optimistic outlook despite the frustrations, a pleasantness that is immediately perceptible upon meeting him. It served him well. The overall experience of buying and remodeling the house to become an Italian dream home was so rewarding, he was inspired to help others do the same.
Jesper’s personal story continues down many an exciting path. Ultimately, it led to his growing admiration for the Piemontese people and love for his adopted homeland. Now, it is retold through the lives of those he has met, here in this region that is overlooked by busload tourists, but very much a beloved destination for those who wish to experience the authentic Italy.
About the book: A reference book rather than a guide
Piedmont – the Dream, the House, the Life is neither a novel nor a guidebook like Lonely Planet or Rick Steves; it could be dubbed as an inspirational reference book. It looks and feels like a guidebook, however: its pages are thick and semi-matte, with the text laid out in columns like a magazine, newspaper, or guidebook. High quality pictures taken by Erik and Jesper grace every turn of the page. The stories of their escapades and discovery of the region are interspersed with traditional recipes, tips, and facts. The back of the book couldn’t have stated its intended audience better: “If you love Italy—and perhaps even daydream about it—you will love this book.”
Photo from www.houseinpiemonte.com
In this way, it is like a guidebook to living the Italian lifestyle and enjoying Piemonte. The reader benefits from real recommendations from the many personal stories of places, experiences, and people. It would be particularly useful to read before visiting Piemonte and then taking it along for suggestions, although it shouldn’t be the only guidebook you take: an index is listed in the back, but it is short and includes just restaurants and producers—no hotels, tour guides, or itineraries are listed. To be sure, the book wasn’t intended to be this kind of guide.
Rather, it’s a helpful portrait of the region. At first glance, it seemed like some stories at the back of the book should be moved to front: information about the region, overviews of important cities like Turin and Asti, and Jesper’s personal experience with home renovation. But the facts are not the point. They are important, without a doubt; but the heart of the book can be found in the stories about the people and their daily lives.
Photos © Erik Bjorn
The stories of people—interviews and visits with everyone from ex-mayor and “savior” of Turin to winemakers, restaurants owners to car industry heirs—will captivate your imagination. Before you know it, you will be immersed in stories about Piemonte people, wondering what you’re doing reading about it, instead of stepping out the door and experiencing what has made Jesper, his family, Erik Bjørn, and so many others fall in love with this region.
“Get off the beaten track the next time you’re in Piedmont. Follow the funny small signs and remember that the less attractive the place looks, the better the chances that you have found a fantastic place. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.”
Tajarin - Photo © Erik Bjorn
Italy, Piedmont – The Dream, the House, the Life
Book in Danish found on www.saxo.com: Direct link here
Book in English found on Amazon: Direct link here
See Jesper Remo's and Erik Bjorne's websites for the full effect of before and after:
Visit Jesper Remo's site for more information about buying and remodeling at www.houseinpiemonte.com
Book a stay at Villa dell'Orso in Roccaverano at villadellorso.com
Book received by author