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Bella Tuscany & Under the Tuscan Sun (2 Book Set)
Bella Tuscany & Under the Tuscan Sun (2 Book Set)
by Frances Mayes
Paperback from Broadway Books
 
Florence & Tuscany (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
by Christopher Catling, DK Publishing
Paperback from DK Publishing

In Tuscany
by Frances Mayes, et al
Frances Mayes continues her love letter to Italy in this sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany. The restoration of her home, Bramasole, is complete, but Tuscany keeps unfolding. While the earlier books chronicled her and her husband's first years in Italy, this one is less full of stories than meditations on the elements of Tuscan pleasures, accompanied by photographs that give color to the place Mayes has described so lovingly and well. 

"What makes the people so friendly, no, not just friendly, so genuinely kind and generous?" Mayes asks an Italian friend, then turns her intense attention to answer the question herself. Her answers range from baci (kisses), an intimate expression that "keeps alive the joy we all are born with," to la piazza, the navel of Italy's intense sense of community, to a deep love affair with food and seasonal delights. (Mayes shares the latter and once again gives recipes from the traditional to the idiosyncratic while her poet-husband Edward treats us to a description of the olive harvest). Then there is the Tuscans' territorial attachment to the land. Place, Mayes writes, makes you who you are and it is by reading the landscape that you find the story of how the people lived. Like a guidebook written by a good friend who reveals to you all the secret places they've found, Mayes leads us from out-of-the-way towns to great frescoes to tiny restaurants with exquisite delicacies (and even gives you their addresses). Turn down any one of Mayes's streets and there is something to contemplate. 

In the distance you see villages crowning a hill or protectively stacked against a slope. Every one pulls me toward its altarpiece, special triptych, arched gate, gothic window, or fountain. Every one has its opinionated, eccentric, friendly, and intrinsic characters who make each place deeply itself. 

Once again, Mayes presents Tuscany as an irresistible place where the pleasures are unexpected, sumptuous, and downright enviable. Immersing yourself in In Tuscany is the next best thing to being invited home to Bramasole. --Lesley Reed - Amazon.com
Hardcover: 269 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.05 x 10.23 x 8.28 
Publisher: Broadway Books; ; (October 31, ) s
ISBN: 0767905350 

The Hills Of Tuscany: A New Life In an Old Land
by Ferenc Mate
A sensuous valentine to author Ferenc Máté's adopted homeland, "The Hills Of Tuscany" brims with lush descriptions of golden dales, scrumptious meals, rich wines, and friendly natives. After years of nomadic roaming from Central America to Canada, Máté (a writer) and his wife, Candace (a painter), visit Tuscany and impulsively decide that this is where they will settle down. A year later they return and begin the hunt for their dream house. As the likeable Mátés (they're funny and suitably grateful for the chance to live in one of the world's garden spots) troll the countryside with a series of colorful Tuscan middlemen, it's impossible not to become emotionally involved in their quest, and when they finally discover the perfect abode - La Marinaia, a tastefully renovated stone farmhouse set amid scenery that Ferenc describes as "like being in the middle of a painting" - you're thrilled right along with them. Subsequent chapters follow the Mátés' growing friendship with their neighbors, who not only help rototill the garden but also reveal where to find porcini mushrooms and truffles in the nearby woods. All in all, reading "The Hills Of Tuscany" is the next best thing to quitting your job, climbing on a plane, and finding your own Tuscan dream house. --Rebecca Gleason - Amazon.com
Hardcover: 256 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 8.70 x 5.86
Publisher: Unknown; ; (November )
ISBN: 0920256384

Pasquale's Nose: Idle Days in an Italian Town
by Michael Rips
In this lively book, an American expatriate tries to make a new home in a small Italian city famous for its clannish ways. He succeeds in many ways, but not without plenty of gaffes and cultural misinterpretations--all of which make Michael Rips's memoir that much funnier. "If you live in Sutri for a hundred years, you won't have a friend; if you live in Sutri for five hundred years, you'll have a friend, but you'll regret it." So runs a proverb from the Tuscan city in which Rips, a sometime attorney and full-time student of the good life, sets his narrative, a place that defies guidebook description and most of the rules of logic. There, a first-class idler in a town where no one is in much of a hurry, he encounters such figures as a diviner who heals sick tractors by touch; a Calabrian outsider who gauges people by the smell of their feet; a chef whose favorite dish is porcupine; and an illiterate postman, plus a bewildering array of secrets and strange encounters that test the innocence of our innocent abroad. Tinged with the bittersweet, Rips's extraordinary memoir will please Italian and armchair travelers alike. --Gregory McNamee - Amazon.com
(Paperback -- April )

The Most Beautiful Villages Of Tuscany
by James Bentley, Hugh Palmer (Photographer)
With the recent popularity of such notable books as Frances Mayes' "Under the Tuscan Sun" and Elizabeth Romer's The Tuscan Year: Life and Food In an Italian Valley, a legion of new Italia fans are finding out what many already know: the charm of Tuscany cannot be denied. In "The Most Beautiful Villages Of Tuscany", author James Bentley and photographer Hugh Palmer offer a decidedly unique view of this remarkable region. Focusing on thirty-six villages and towns from all over Tuscany - chosen for "both their intrinsic beauty and for the part they have played in Tuscan history and culture"--the gorgeous full-color photographs, accompanied by superb accounts of each village, truly "bring the region to life, evoking the richness of architecture and landscape, and bringing out the charm of the Tuscan people". The final chapter is devoted to useful travel information, including passages on hotels and restaurants, market days and festivals, as well as a select bibliography and detailed map of the region. As beautiful as it is informative and entertaining, "The Most Beautiful Villages Of Tuscany" is "the perfect visual tribute to the timeless beauty of these small towns and villages". Amazon.com
Hardcover
Thames & Hudson; ISBN: 050001664X
 

Tuscany: Inside the Light
Tuscany: Inside the Light
by Joel Meyerowitz, Maggie Barrett
Hardcover from Sterling Publishing
 
A Tuscan Childhood by Kinta Beevor
What could be more romantic than living in an ancient fortress, dining in its rooftop garden, and sleeping under the stars? English artists and intellectuals like the author's parents (painter Aubrey Waterfield and journalist Lina Duff Gordon) have traditionally adored the Italian countryside, and their daughter's enchanting memoir describes the happy haven they found near the Tuscan town of Aulla. Kinta was only 5 in 1916 when she made her first trip by pony trap up the steep road to their hilltop abode, and neither exile to English boarding school nor the Second World War could keep her away for long. Famous friends like Bernard Berenson and D.H. Lawrence make cameo appearances, but the real stars are the earthy, dignified Tuscan peasants who worked for her family. Through them, the author immersed herself in the timeless rhythms of rural existence. The text's highlights include a vivid account of vendemmia, the grape harvest, and the glories of Italian cuisine. Anyone who can read her descriptions of the local polenta, zuppa di verdura, and other meticulously prepared dishes without feeling a rumble in the stomach truly has no interest in food. Though Beevor's final chapters note the changes that have come to Tuscany in the postwar era, her recollections pay loving tribute to a way of life that truly seems eternal.  --Wendy Smith - Amazon.com
Paperback: 271 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.70 x 8.03 x 5.25
Publisher: Vintage Books; ; (February 8, )
ISBN: 0375704264

A Tuscan Paradise by Marina Schinz
"I have found a country retreat of such delight that I would be happy to live there forever," writes Marina Schinz of Valle Pinciole, the modestly sized but immodestly beguiling Tuscan estate of her friends Matteo and Federico. Schinz, a renowned garden photographer, has a well-developed eye for beauty on a human scale, and her exquisite photographs make as much of the dense intimacy of the villa's Jekyll garden as of the glorious hills and olive groves that lie just past its borders. Schinz was first attracted to the undeniably abundant hillside gardens of Valle Pinciole (some of them designed by the landscape designer Russell Page), then fell in love with the whole package, which is as fruitful a marriage of nature and art as its attentive owners can create. Schinz muses on the area's Etruscan history, neatly tying the ancient Etruscan love of luxury to the estate's very deliberate loveliness of design. Each corner of Valle Pinciole has small surprises in store: the classical Italian lemon garden surrounded by a sea of lavender, the maze hedge behind the orangerie, the stand of bamboo in the woodland garden. Schinz deems Valle Pinciole "a rare find" for its palpable sense of culture, its harmony and grace, and the way it reflects the temperaments and passions of its owners. Amazon.com
Hardcover: 176 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.91 x 10.33 x 10.22 
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang; ; (March ) 
ISBN: 1556706863 

Tuscany
by Sonja Bullaty (Photographer), Angelo Lomeo (Photographer), Marie-Ange Guillaume
Hardcover: 180 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.84 x 10.17 x 10.29 
Publisher: Abbeville Press, Inc.; ;  
ISBN: 1558598952 

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home In Italy
by Frances Mayes
In this memoir of her buying, renovating, and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, Frances Mayes reveals the sensual pleasure she found living in rural Italy, and the generous spirit she brought with her. She revels in the sunlight and the color, the long view of her valley, the warm homey architecture, the languor of the slow paced days, the vigor of working her garden, and the intimacy of her dealings with the locals. Cooking, gardening, tiling and painting are never chores, but skills to be learned, arts to be practiced, and above all to be enjoyed. At the same time Mayes brings a literary and intellectual mind to bear on the experience, adding depth to this account of her enticing rural idyll. Amazon.com
Paperback - 280 pages Reprint edition
Broadway Books; ISBN: 0767900383

Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria
by James Lasdun, Pia Davis
Paperback from Penguin USA (Paper)

Within Tuscany: Reflections On a Time and Place
by Matthew Spender
Paperback: 366 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.76 x 7.71 x 5.03 
Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper); ; Reprint edition (May 1993) 
ISBN: 0140178384

In Maremma: Life and a House In Southern Tuscany
by David Leavitt
Thanks to authors like Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, a whole subset of travel memoirs is now devoted to the theme of restoring old houses in Europe. While most authors use the home as a vehicle to examine the surrounding culture, David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell tilt their measure decidedly on the side of home decor. "Nothing tells you more about a people than their houses," Leavitt and Mitchell write, as they set out to "construct a past based on our own private notions of comfort, upon which we could glance with pleasure in some hypothetical future." While initially daunted by the task of restoring a country house in bureaucracy-plagued Italy, the two dive in with gusto when they find Podere Fiume (River Farm) in Maremma, a little known part of Tuscany. Unlived in for more than 20 years, the farmhouse's downstairs is composed entirely of animal stalls, complete with stone troughs, while its two acres are lined with olive and fruit trees and a small creek. The authors tell of tapping into the Italian tradition of craftsmanship, taking on iron-fitters, lamp and lampshade makers, wood carvers and furniture restorers. They design their own couch, reconstruct an 1803 fireplace and commission a copy of an 18th-century Venetian bookcase with secret doors for CDs. They even recount the paint colors and fabric designs they consider. Needless to say, the density of detail they devote to their decor will mostly be of interest to those who pour over design magazines like House & Garden and "World Of Interiors", as the authors do. Fortunately, they also devote some of their short but precise chapters to humorous and telling bits about Italy - the habits, feuds and "poetry and madness" of Italian bureaucracy - as well as to portraits of some of their more interesting neighbors, such as Pepe the iron-fitter and Pina the restaurateur. Written from the point of view of expatriates who live among but are not of, "In Maremma" offers an interesting, sometimes overdone and other times right-on-target portrait of a less glamorous if no less interesting part of Tuscany than Frances Mayes's.  --Lesley Reed - Amazon.com
Out of Print - Try Used Books

Private Tuscany
by Elizabeth Helman-Minchilli
Tuscany's hill towns and countryside have enthralled inhabitants and visitors for centuries - the golden light in the afternoons, the grape arbors, and the rolling hillsides dotted with rustic farmhouses and villas. "Private Tuscany" invites us into these dwellings, giving us a glimpse of how life is lived in this warm, inviting place.

The homes featured in this gorgeous volume are as enchanting as the Tuscan towns and hillsides they're built on. Many embody a style we've come to associate with Tuscany: dark-timbered kitchens with dried herbs and garlic ropes hung from the rafters, original terra-cotta tile floors, large-windowed living rooms, and artfully frescoed walls. There are centuries-old furnishings crafted by skilled Italian artisans and elegantly manicured gardens containing hidden grottos and classical statuary. But the homes also reflect the special touches of the people who occupy them. For instance, a theater lover displays his exquisite collection of miniature theaters in the salon; the daughter of a villa owner paints traditional murals on the walls and mosaic patterns on the floors. 

Simon McBride's photographs skillfully capture the magic of these Tuscan homes and feature a variety of residences, from simple farmhouses to grand villas and palaces. The book's four chapters divide the homes into types: rustic, classic, grand, and modern. An index at the back serves as an introduction to Tuscany's pleasures, providing contact information for sampling the region's wine and produce, fine dining, hotels and houses, gardens, and crafts. 

Several of the homeowners featured in Private Tuscany have gone to painstaking lengths to restore these buildings after decades, or even centuries, of neglect. The results, from the simplest farmhouse kitchen to an elaborately frescoed dining room, are breathtaking. --Kris Law
Out of Print - Try Used Books
 

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