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'Loving Lardo': A Memoir of a Life in Italy

Loving Lardo Facebook page.
Olsen on a recent visit to Italy with her book.

After spending 17 years living in Italy, lardo (Italian for lard) was the only thing, food or otherwise, that Wendy Olsen did not fall in love with. She recently published her first book, titledLoving Lardo, chronicling her experience in the country she loves.

Born in Orleans, France, and raised in Wisconsin, Olsen is the daughter of U.S. Army parents from the Big Cedar Lake area. She met her Italian husband in a beer garden in Munich and two months later, she packed her bags and was off to live in northern Italy.

She has made the move to Italy four times in all. “My furniture has more frequent flyer miles than I do,” says Olsen. 

Now a resident of Slinger, Wisconsin, Olsen has nostalgic feelings for the country she fell in love with. “I still dream in Italian,” says Olsen. “It’s the culture that immerses you, not just the language.”

Olsen speaks four languages and founded the Slinger Academy of Language and Arts, which teaches language and culture surrounding Spanish, French and Italian to children and adults.

"We are the only country in the world that doesn't insist or oblige our children to learn a language, the rest of the world has English starting in primary school. So out of a frustration I said, 'I'm going to start this language school,'" explains Olsen.

Olsen will be at Boswell Books Thursday night, and in the Artisans tent at Festa Italiana this weekend to discuss her novel and life in Italy. 

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.