Including good doggos and a farting Contessa

There’s always a rainbow over Calcata. Photo by Stacey Eskelin.

In Calcata Vecchia, an artists’ community perched high on a rock overlooking a valley, loud, acrimonious arguments are pretty much the lingua franca. It’s a small village, so everyone’s like family, a loud Italian family that argues. They argue about money, politics, but mostly about slights, real or perceived. This is what happened to the Contessa.

The Contessa, who is now deceased, was elderly, opinionated, and apparently gassy…


Deep in the bowels of an abandoned NYC subway station, there is this utterly perfect metaphor for the situation in America. Photographer unknown.

When people ask me why I moved to Italy, I often give them my “overall reasons” — I fell in love with the country and fell in love with a man who lives here. Seems pretty self-explanatory, right?

But what I usually leave out is how impossible it would have been for me, had I stayed in the U.S., to transition from working seven days a week as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, while writing part time, to becoming a full-time freelance author. Impossible not in the hyperbolic, poor-me sense, but literally impossible. …


Even a casual glance at the headlines will show that Italy has become the European epicenter for the global pandemic known as coronavirus.

Our numbers are staggering. Almost 36,000 cases as of today, 18 March, 2020.

4,207 new cases since yesterday.

2,978 total dead.

475 deaths since yesterday.

To say that hospitals in the northern part of this country are overwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe the reality there. Patients are on gurneys in hallways, sometimes dying unattended because triage and emergency rooms are experiencing critical overload. An increasing number of medical personnel, including nurses, doctors and paramedics, are dying from…


Until a week ago, I had never set foot inside Trump’s America. Oh, I’d been watching it from across the Atlantic, often staying up until three or four in the morning churning through news programs. But living in Italy had sheltered me to what was really going on. True, I could see with a strange, new, disturbing clarity that things were descending into chaos, but I didn’t know just how dire it had gotten until the day I returned to my native Houston.

I had grown soft.

Good living will do that to you, if by “good living” you mean…


Hospital in Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy

This week, my boyfriend and I traveled to Città di Castello — a spruce, charming town snugged up against the spinal foothills of Italy — for his double-hernia surgery.

The surgery, the extra night in the hospital, all his medications, his doctor’s appointments before and after the intervento (what the Italians also call “day surgery”), and my own overnight stay in the hospital to look after him … were free.

We were stunned.

I’ve never had health insurance. Being a freelance writer, I’ve never been able to afford it, and now seeing how Italy does healthcare has been a fascinating…


No one will tell you the truth about motherhood. It’s like some global conspiracy to keep you in the dark so you’ll procreate.

Three months after the birth of my son, I figured out how badly I’d been screwed. My husband and I were idling in front of the drive-thru teller, and I burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.

“I just realized something awful.”

Horrified, he waited for me to tell him, deposit slip in hand, mouth slightly ajar.

Tearfully, I whispered, “I’m never ever going to be carefree again.”

And you’re not.

That love owns you now.


The problem with putting the pieces back together after an affair is that you are a totally different person than you were before.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was already too far down the rabbit hole.

There was no coming back.

For the cheated-on, there are issues of trust. My common-law hubby, Zack, had done a whole lot of cheating long before Todd and I ever set eyes on one another.

Still, he was wary, especially when I wouldn’t let him touch me.

But I’d spent the last eighteen months at a sexual Disneyland, and now…


In addition to being a writer, I’ve worked in gyms for most of my life, and in the beginning, I really sucked.

I taught a step class where I started out with forty people and ended up with three.

All group exercise songs are composed around an eight-count beat; in step, you “cue” the next move on the fifth or sixth beat, and then execute that move on the seventh or eighth.

It’s a little like spinning plates on your nose — one wrong move and the whole thing goes crashing to the ground.

That ill-fated day when I taught my first step class, the more I kept screwing it up, the more rattled I got. …


Working at dating membership organization Great Expectations was a lot like working for the Mob.

We broke hearts; the Mob broke kneecaps.

My job, as it was described to me, was to go into a closing room with a pre-qualified lead, plant my ass in the chair closest to the door, and relentlessly hound the poor fucker into ponying up two large for a membership.

I was meticulously instructed on how to ask closing questions like, “Are you ready to make this kind of financial investment in meeting a woman who has made the same investment in you?”

Or, if…

Stacey Keith

Living in Italy, Culture, Lifestyle, Travel, Recipes, Heath and Fitness, Relationship Advice

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