The Bittersweet Life podcast began over six years ago in Rome, when two childhood friends from Seattle reconnected in Italy and decided to explore the highs and lows of the expat experience. Over the years, the show has grown into a much larger examination of life, inspiring a worldwide community of seekers to consider a less ordinary path for themselves.

The hosts have two very different perspectives. Katy Sewall lived in Rome for one year, having chosen (with great difficulty) to leave a successful Public Radio career to move abroad. She has continued her search for wonder and belonging since moving back to the States, and regularly interviews famous authors to aid the journey (see below). Tiffany Parks moved to Rome over fifteen years ago, determined to stay. Since becoming an expat, she has overcome homesickness, the challenge to earn a living, and endless Italian bureaucracy, eventually becoming an Italian citizen and a mother during the course of the show. Tiffany is also a licensed tour leader who regularly shares her deep knowledge of Rome’s history and art on the show, transforming many episodes into virtual walks through the Eternal City and beyond. The conversation is candid and funny, but also well crafted—not just two people turning on a mic. (Katy does have a Public Radio background after all.) 

Katy and Tiffany are regularly joined by world-class writers and thinkers. Recent guests include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See), travel writer extraordinaire Paul Theroux (On the Plain of Snakes), CBS correspondent Mo Rocca (Mobituaries), historian and classicist Mary Beard (SPQR), Cambridge scholar Robert MacFarlane (Underland), science writer Hope Jaren (Lab Girl), number one New York Times best-selling author Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins), the world’s most famous mortician Caitlin Doughty (Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?), Aspen Words director and memoirist Adrienne Brodeur (Wild Game), therapist and New York Times best-selling author Lori Gottlieb (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone), writer and street photographer Bill Hayes (How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic), Oprah Winfrey’s executive producer Sheri Salata (The Beautiful No) and dozens more. So many great conversations await, with journalists like Diane Cardwell, Tom Vanderbilt, Emily Witt, and Alan Burdick, actress Jane Alexander, NPR book reviewer Nancy Pearl, observation specialist Amy Herman, and expats living around the world.

New episodes are released every Monday, focused on a specific theme or topic. On Thursdays, we publish mini-episodes that often take you onto the streets of Rome or Seattle. Whether you’re living abroad or not—or not yet—join us and start imagining the possibilities for your own life.

Tiffany Parks is an author, travel writer, tour guide, and dedicated Caravaggio-chaser on a life-long quest to see every work he ever painted. She has called Rome home since 2004, and the city has become her muse, inspiring almost everything she’s ever written. Her debut novel, LA Times bestseller Midnight in the Piazza, is a Middle Grade art mystery set in contemporary Rome, published by HarperCollins in 2018. She’s currently working on her second book, Saving Caravaggio, a YA historical thriller and winner of the 2020 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. She also shares her passion for Rome’s history and art with tourists on private walking tours. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and at her website.

Katy Sewall is an award-winning senior public radio producer and host, writer, and podcast consultant. (Need help? Email her at: radiokaty {at} gmail {dot} com.) When she moved to Rome in 2013, it was after eleven years of senior producing (and hosting) at NPR in Seattle, where she ran the daily morning show Weekday with Steve Scher. She has interned with RadioLab and toured with A Prairie Home Companion. If you live in Seattle, you can still hear her hosting on KUOW Public Radio every Sunday. She’s currently working on a memoir that blends her personal life with the filmography of Tom Cruise. She also regularly writes children’s picture books and flash fiction. You can find Katy on Twitter.