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So to date, in my lifetime I have visited and experienced the dolce vita of Rome, Florence, Pisa and most of Tuscany in Italy. Now I can add Milan, and truly believe I have experienced it and its amour first hand as I have the other cities. The difference is I have never physically been in Milan, but after reading the beautiful account of "the sweet life" of this fabulous northern Italian city by Barbara Conelli in her book, CHIQUE SECRETS OF DOLCE VITA, I feel I have been there without leaving the comfort of my reading chair.

From the first word you are enveloped into the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Milan and the surrounding sights. You are gripped by her account of her experiences in this great city until the last page.

"To live a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses...It means being aware of yourself, of your emotions and desires...There is a place where you can learn all this..."

Ms. Conelli's vivid use of words to bring to life the Milanese people, especially the women, paints pictures that would otherwise be left to the craft of a photographer with the camera lens, as his easel.  

"Italian women do not flaunt their clothes but themselves. They do not doubt their immense female power and they do not worry about pseudo-imperfections. They are self-confident and proud of themselves."

Your mouth will water and stomach grumble as you read her poetic wording of the northern Italian food delights. Ms. Conelli continues with her fluent use of the English language to lure you into the smells and sites of this alluring city.

I just love Ms. Conelli's beautifully written tale of "Go To Verdi's." This is just one of the many highlights of her lovely novel but resonates with me because I have been in this situation in my life a couple of times and wish I could have banished a few people straight to "Verdi's." Relationship woes are truly international.

"The next time someone throws you out of balance quite diabolically, avoid corny clichés and don’t tell them to go to hell or to other hostile parts, but straight to Verdi’s. As an angry spur, it is a much more elegant, glamorous, and beautifully Milanese solution."

Ms. Conelli has a good handle on the musings of the human spirit and our pursuit for the perfect life. And thus has found an understanding in the people of northern Italy living a dolce vita. She shares their philosophy to living the perfect life and once you grasp this concept you will want strive to live by it also.

"Most of us keep pursuing the image of a perfect life, perfect job, perfect relationship, and a perfect account balance. We look around ourselves, watch others, compare ourselves to them, and we always want something more, something better...So while chasing the perfect life, we don't forget the present one, which might not be so bad at all."

Ms. Conelli's collaboration with Illustrator, Nela Vadlejchova has achieved simple, well-placed pen drawings with enough detail to tempt your senses into imagining what really is beyond the description of the scenario they enhance.

In the end, will you not only fall in love with Milan (and Ms. Conelli's writing) like I have, but you will want to visit it as soon as you can. So use the "Dolce Vita Notes" pages found at the end of the book to strategically plan your next vacation, of course, to Milan. Just purchase an additional copy for your travel agent as a gift, and firmly explain to her that you want to go to "everything" written between the covers. She'll thank you for being so organized.

PS – a little word of advice: DO NOT read this book when you are hungry as you will devour the story too fast... and you don't want to miss one word, I promise you.

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