Judith Works shares her experiences as an expat living in Rome in the late 20th century in her well-written book, Coins in the Fountain: A Midlife Escape to Rome. Legend says that by tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you’ll return to Rome. At the end of her first 4-year stay in Rome, Judith tosses a coin and returns later for another 6 years. Now back in the US, she returns often for visits but part of her heart still remains in Rome.
In her entertaining book Judith shares the adventures of she and her husband when she accepts a job with the UN and they move to Rome, making a midlife change that alters their lives. Their first years are spent in learning the ropes of being in a foreign country, adjusting to a new way of life, and their delight in discovering new foods and places. For me this first part was a somewhat nostalgic look at how things used to be in Italy years ago but whether you’ve been to Italy or not, her descriptions and stories are entertaining and really bring Rome to life.
Judith’s retired husband has the tasks of learning to shop and cook in Rome, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds, and she shares his learning experiences, as well as recipes for a few of the dishes he learned to make, in the book. They also enjoy the adventures of eating out and trying their neighborhood restaurants and some of the dining descriptions are mouth-watering!
When they return for their second stay in the city, they adjust more easily and spend more time exploring places beyond the city. The later part of the book becomes more of a travelogue of places to visit near Rome and in other parts of Italy. Her vivid descriptions really make you feel like you’re traveling right along with them, discovering new places or re-visiting ones you’ve been to before.
Of course moving to a new place is not all fun, but luckily Judith adopted the attitude that everything was a new adventure so rather than complaining about things that were difficult or didn’t go well, she turns their misadventures into amusing anecdotes.
As is often the case with expats, Judith has a difficult time adjusting to life back in the United States but luckily for her she also developed a love of travel so not only does she return often to Rome but she relishes the adventures that await in each new place she visits and she’s now visited more than 100 countries. What began as a midlife escape turned out to be an amazing life-changing experience.
Read more about Judith Works.
If you’ve ever thought about making a move to Italy or just enjoy other people’s experiences, this is a good book to read. Judith takes the reader on a trip through Rome beyond the usual tourist experiences and brings the city to life as she reminisces about her time in the eternal city.
- Coins in the Fountain was published by Gemelli press. More from Gemelli press – Salento by 5: Friendship, Food, Music, and Travel Within the Heel of the Boot.
- Read another Rome memoir: Times New Roman by Martha Miller
- See more recommended Rome reading including food books and travel tips
Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of the book by the publisher, however that did not influence this article.
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