Book Title: Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos: How Italian Women Make the Ordinary Extraordinary by Gabriella Contestabile
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 201 pages
Genre: Travel / Arts / Fashion / Self-help
Publisher: Sumisura Publications
Release date: November 2017
Tour dates: April 23 to May 11, 2018
Content Rating: G (No violence. No swear words. No sex scenes.)
Ah, that inimitable Italian style. It’s embedded in an Italian woman’s DNA. Fashion doesn’t define her. She defines herself. She knows an extraordinary life is not about status, money, or achievement. The only mastery it requires is one her heritage has given her, the irrepressible passion to make art of life itself.
Ask an Italian woman where she gets her sense of style and she will tell you it’s not about labels. It’s tethered to humble roots; humanity, community, conscious consumerism, and a profound appreciation for art in all its forms.
Sass, Smarts and Stilettos takes the reader on a journey from the humble hill towns of Abruzzo to the revered fashion capitals of Milan and Rome, into the artisan workshops of Florence, and the humanistic business practices of Luisa Spagnoli, Brunello Cuccinelli, and Alberta Ferretti, from the emergence of Italy’s fashion industry after WWII, to slow food and sustainable fashion initiatives taking root around the world.
Life lessons echo in the words of the author’s mother and grandmother, in the voices of Italian film divas, designers, tastemakers, writers, and artisans across generations, from the first Sala Bianca in Florence to the game-changing design ethic of Franca Sozzani, Miuccia Prada, and Donatella Versace.
Learn how to live fully within your own philosophy of living. Say goodbye to mindless consumerism, emotional clutter, and others’ expectations. Create a personal style that fits like a custom blazer by Ferrè and enchants like the colors of a Sicilian sunset. Then go on to craft an extraordinary and empowering life made-to-measure for you alone.
I rated this book 4 ****’s
What a very inspiring and beautiful book to read
I enjoyed reading this book. It is not only beautiful but very inspiring to book. It gives you more insights about a strong woman who not only loves passion but also enjoyed life to the fullest in different countries and still enjoy being herself.
There are some words are hard to read but the glossary on the back helps me to comprehend. I love how Italian has big family and family oriented. I can relate that to my Filipino heritage. This book is very heartwarming to read with so much love and passion. It teaches you the love for food with big mouth and a sassy attitude, that is my favorite part of this book.
I cannot wait to read more books from this author.
To read reviews, please visit Gabriella Contestabile’s page on Italy Book Tours.
Gabriella Contestabile is the author of the novel, The Artisan’s Star, and owner of Su Misura (Made to Measure) Journeys; a boutique travel concept for the female traveler who relishes off-the-beaten-track adventures that celebrate the Italian way of life.
The book/travel initiative has its roots in her pre-writer life as a foreign language teacher, later as Executive Director and Vice President of International Training in a number of global companies (including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, and Prada Beauty) where she would create immersive and unconventional learning experiences in unique settings around the world.
One of her favorite pastimes, wherever she is in the world, is to scout out the best, and most ‘Italian’ espresso in the hood. It requires multiple tastings, but that’s the idea. Gabriella was born in Italy, and raised in Ottawa and New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, her mother, and a furry Shih Tzu named Oreo.
- Do you recall the first book/novel you ever read?
‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott. I was eight years old and I still own the book. I read it both in English, four times, and in Italian, twice. As an Italian immigrant living in Canada it made me yearn for New England, a piano, and a house full of sisters. Jo March became my role model and it pretty much sealed the deal. I would be a writer and a feminist, and that was that.
- Are you an avid reader? If so, are there certain authors you would like to emulate?
Yes and yes. I wish I could write biography like Walter Isaacson and fiction like Marguerite Duras and Isabel Allende. I wish I’d written ‘To The Wedding’ by John Berger, the short stories of Alice Munro, the poetry of Louise Gluck, the works of Dickens and Dostoyevsky, and penned a powerful treatise on life and death ‘When Breath Becomes Air’. But then I also wish I could sing like Maria Callas.
- Any advice you’d like to give your younger self?
Read Barbara Ueland’s “If You Want To Write”. If I’d done so before embarking on my first novel I wouldn’t have taken ten years to get it perfect, which it isn’t, and I would have written more books. Ueland’s advice is essentially ‘don’t get it right, get it written’.
Most important, know your reader and the literary experience you want to create. Work with a good editor, send out to reviewers and readers for feedback, make the final tweaks and changes, give it to a proofreader and when all is in place send your book out into the world and move on to your next one. Ueland’s advice is solid and as straightforward as it gets.
- What did you want to become when you were a kid?
A myriad of things but they all had one in common-they all involved writing, travel and creating experiences; actress, foreign correspondent, UN ambassador. I loved theater and would stage plays in our back yards complete with scripts and costumes.
When I was ten my father gave me the book “A Passionate Sightseer’ by Bernard Berenson. It sparked my wanderlust and an interest in all things Tuscan. Years later while researching “The Artisan’s Star’, I was re- directed to Berenson’s book. I consider it karma that Berenson’s distant cousin, the elegant model and actress, Marisa Berenson in and her famous grandmother, Elsa Schiaparelli, appear so prominently in the pages of ‘Sass, Smarts, and Stilettos.’
There’s this full circle thing that keeps surfacing in my work. While I research in the present I always end up in a place I’d explored at another point in my life, which proves, yet again, that the book we want to write has always resided inside us in some form.
- Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I never feel guilty about enjoying all the small pleasures life has to offer. I love Bollywood movies and dance, all the color and drama. I love Wonder Woman. I love books and movies that make me cry. Same thing goes for opera. Put me in a place where my emotions can run free, where I can laugh and cry with abandon and I’m the happiest person around.