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About the Show

The Bittersweet Life began over five 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-than-ordinary path for themselves. 

The hosts have two very different perspectives on the bitter-dolce-vita. Host Katy Sewall lived for a year in Rome, choosing (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 while continually struggling with repatriation. Host Tiffany Parks moved to Rome over a decade ago with a determination to stay and make it work no matter what. Through the years, she overcame loneliness, joblessness, and illegality becoming both an Italian citizen and a mother during the course of the show. Tiffany regularly shares her deep knowledge of Roman history and art too, transforming many episodes into a miniature trips to the eternal city. 

Katy and Tiffany are regularly joined in candid conversation by world-class writers and thinkers.  Recent guests include Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr (All the Light we Cannot See) science writer Hope Jaren (Lab Girl), Cambridge Scholar Robert MacFarlane (Underland), National Book Award finalist Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins), Mortician Caitlin Doughty (From Here to Eternity), New York Times best-selling therapist Lori Gottlieb (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone), Tin House's Rob Spillman (All Tomorrow's Parties), historian Mary Beard (SPQR) and Hallie Rubenhold (The Five), journalists Tom Vanderbilt, Emily Witt, Alan Burdick and Erik Vance, actress Jane Alexander, NPR book reviewer Nancy Pearl, and observation specialist Amy Herman, among so many others. 

New episodes are released every Monday focused on a specific theme. On Thursday, a second mini-episode often takes you to Rome or onto the streets of Seattle. The conversation is candid and funny, but crafted - not just two people turning on a mic. (Katy does have a Public Radio background after all.) Whether you’re living overseas, or not — or not yet — join us and start imagining the possibilities for your life. 

SUBSCRIBE and join the community.

Don't be afraid to start at the beginning. Listeners regularly delight in week-long catch-up binges.

** If you love the show, please DONATE and receive a hand-written thank you note in return! ** 


Katy and Tiffany in Middle School

The nitty-gritty about your hosts

Katy Sewall is a radio producer and host. When she moved to Rome, it was after 11 years at KUOW Public Radio, NPR Seattle, where she was Senior Producer (and occasional host) of Weekday with Steve Scher. She has interned with RadioLab and toured with A Prairie Home Companion. Her series The Radio Retrospective, about radio's Golden Age, has aired on radio stations all over the United States. She also a writer and a podcast consultant. Reach her at radiokaty at

Tiffany Parks is a writer. She heads the editorial department at Where Rome magazine and with the Eternal City as her muse, she has just published an art mystery for young readers set in Rome called Midnight in the Piazza. In her spare time, she shares her passion for Rome’s history and art with tourists on private walking tours. Schedule a tour or read her musings about Rome and its curiosities on her blog, The Pines of RomeYou can also reach her on Twitter.


Connect with Katy and Tiffany

Find us on Instagram, Twitter @BitterSweetPod, and Facebook

We love hearing from you! Tell us your story. Suggest episode topics or guests. Interview us for your article or podcast. Email:

** The Bittersweet Life is now accepting sponsors for the program. Reach listeners all over the world. Send an email to get the conversation going.**



The Guardian says "The Bittersweet Life is a great example of an immersive podcast experience and of excellent storytelling."

Seattle Magazine interview with host Katy Sewall. Article: Love, Italian Style, in 'Bittersweet Life' Podcast

Host Katy Sewall writing for BBC NewsThe Girl who gets Gifts from Birds. The story broke on Episode 51: CROWS 

NPR's The Takeaway interviewing Katy Sewall about Episode 51: CROWS

The Wall Street Journal highlights Episode 73: INVISIBLE.

The Wall Street Journal highlights Episode 72: ADDICT

The Wall Street Journal highlights Episode 82: DIVORCE

My Ballard (Seattle) "The Bittersweet Life delves into a variety of life subjects that all listeners can relate to including difficult topics such as sexual assault." 

Seattle Magazine: 14 Seattle-Based Podcasts for Your Daily Commute

Tiffany Parks' book Midnight in the Piazza reviewed by Publishers WeeklyKirkus Review, BookPage, La CasablogaGoodReads 



Town Hall Seattle: The Bittersweet Life Live!

Expat Sandwich: Rome with The Bittersweet Life - Marty Walker's documentary about the show and how it came to be. 

Creatively Complicated: Katy and Tiffany talk about vulnerability and the creative process with hosts Stephanie (in China) and Summer (in Germany).   

Expat Focus: US Expat Tiffany Parks talks about her Decision to Move Abroad - Katy Sewall guest interviewer 

Fool's Paradise: The Bittersweet Life (Rome, Italy) - Katy Sewall interviewed by Samuel Webster

Anchor Radio: Podcast of the Day features The Bittersweet Life

KFI AM 640 Tim Conway Jr. interviews Tiffany Parks

Yesterday USA Network: Katy Sewall on the differences between live radio and podcasting, the lasting influence of Golden Age radio and the many bloopers that happen in the radio industry.  Hosts: Larry Gassman and Walden Hughes

CBC Radio: Former Garrison Keillor colleague feels radio host was unfairly 'swept up' in wave of allegations - Host Katy Sewall interviewed during the #MeToo movement

Town Hall Seattle: Katy Sewall interviews actress Jane Alexander, heard on the podcast as Episode 143: CRITTERS

From the Mixed Up Files interviews Tiffany Parks 



A Merry Feast says "This podcast... is the one nearest and dearest to my heart. It grabbed me from the first moments of listening to it."

Ciaone Italia says The Bittersweet Life is one of the top three podcasts about Italy to download. "The episodes are content-rich, fascinating, thorough, and insightful." 

Creatively Complicated podcast says "It is hard to tease out the different slices of life they cover in their podcast and that is what makes it so scrumptious. It is, in fact, like a good dish where you think you can identify the ingredients but they blend together so well in that particular combination of temperature, texture and quantity that you dare not try." 

Girl in Florence says, in her list of the best Italy podcasts, "I am adding this to my list of must-listens."

Italy, Explained recommends The Bittersweet Life among the "Sites I Love!"

GADGeTeCHINA says "The hosts are incredibly candid about not only their expat experiences, but also about their relationships with their families… They ALWAYS ask the questions that I want them to ask!"

book-plate says "Katy and Tiffany makes me feel like I’m amongst friends - the kind of friends that will be there no matter where you find yourself in the future."

Jess On Thames says The Bittersweet Life "is a lovely expat podcast from two friends living in Rome."

LaCasavloga calls The Bittersweet Life her favorite. "I'm still very grateful that I found this podcast. It's been very valuable to me."

The Curious Autodidact says “When I got to listening, I binge-listened to it a few segments at a time. It’s a charming podcast…”

Bello Collective says "the show talks about the complex highs and lows of being an expat abroad."

The Limonata Lounge says The Bittersweet Life is "my absolute favourite podcast that... I never get tired of."



The Pines of Rome: Host Tiffany Parks' articles exploring Rome’s art, history, culture, customs, quirks, and curiosities.

The Globalist A Former expats ode to Rome, by host Katy Sewall  

Italy Beyond the ObviousTrastevere, Rome: 5 spots to relax and unwind - Guest post by Katy Sewall where Katy Sewall regularly writes. Her 'best of 2016' article An eviction in Ballard was also discussed on Episode 99: EVICTED

Mozzarella Mamma Tiffany's Turtle Fountain Mystery

Author J.L. Spohr (Heirs & Spares) responds to the episodes about ASSAULT (Part 1Part 2 and Part 3) in her article "Be Not Ashamed."

GADGeTeCHNICA: In Defense of Self-Promotion, an article written in response to Episode 60: SOCIAL.

Voicemap: Tiffany Parks takes you on on walking tour of Trastevere: Rome's Medieval Village

The Bittersweet Life on Wanted Adventure

Advice about expat fatigue and the expat plateau via The Bittersweet Life podcast from The Limonata Lounge 

Our Logo Designer

Lost Laboratory, Ballard, WA

Art by Caravaggio, the show's muse


Share the Show!

Cut and copy template to make it easy

Created by a devoted listener who posted this on social media 


I love The Bittersweet Life podcast. It's a show about dreaming. About traveling. About stepping outside your comfort zone. 

Hosts Katy Sewall and Tiffany Parks have great chemistry with one another, they host thoughtful and interesting guests, and I am always entertained. 

It's a great show with the perfect length episodes. I listen to one for every 30-minute walk. Please consider subscribing and giving it a try. It helps them keep their show going, and it will add to your life as well. I promise.

Just search for “The Bittersweet Life” wherever you get your podcasts – and let me know if you have trouble, I will help you! 

Enjoy friends!


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