Frances Mayes, author of Under The Tuscan Sun, opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book. Doing for Tuscany what M.F.K. Fisher and Peter Mayle did for Provence, Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasures of a foreign country with gusto and passion.
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Work’s still not completely finished on Bramasole, the Tuscan house that California-based poet and bestselling author Frances Mayes bought a decade ago and has been fixing up every summer since. Nevertheless, in Bella Tuscany, she goes out–in search of Italy and Italian life. The sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun is awash with sensual discovery, from Sicilian markets with “rainbows of shining fish on ice” to the aqueous dream of Venice “shimmering in the diluted sunlight.” Wherever she is, Mayes celebrates everyday rituals, such as picking wild asparagus, “dark spears poking out of the dirt … stalks as thin as yarn” and driving through country rains, as “the green landscape smears across the windshield” for buffalo mozzarella and demijohns of sfuso–bulk wine kept fresh with a slick of olive oil on top. Mayes also ventures into the world of the locals, some “bent as a comma” and others throwing six-hour communion feasts where half a dozen cooks in a barn continually send out heaping platters of pasta with wild boar sauce, roasted lamb, and even the thigh of a giant cow–wrapping up the festivities with honeyed vin santo, grappa, and dancing to the accordion. Capturing the details that enrich the commonplace, in Bella Tuscany Mayes appears less like a visitor and more like someone discovering in Tuscany a real home and a real life.
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. Frances Mayes starts off by saying, “I am about to buy a house in a foreign country. A house with the beautiful name of Bramasole.” Tall, square and apricot-colored with faded green shutters, the lovely old farm house that Frances and her husband buy is in Tuscany. They return every summer, they tend the olives and grapes, they plant potatoes and build a stone wall. The book has Tuscan soil under its fingernails, Tuscan sun on its back and the flavor of Tuscany throughout. Why her and not me, you’ll be screaming as writer and professor Mayes describes languorous lunches on the patio, local wine flowing freely and olive pits casually pitched toward the nearby stone wall. The image Mayes creates of her house, the Italian countryside, and her summers there with fellow professor Ed and sundry visitors is nothing short of idyllic: Mayes’ delightful recipes, evocative descriptions of the nearby village of Cortona, and thoughtful musings on the Italian spirit only add to the pleasure.
When Frances Mayes fell in love with Tuscany and Bramasole, millions of readers basked in the experience through her three bestselling memoirs. Now Frances and her husband, In Tuscany coauthor Edward, share the essence of Tuscan life as they have lived it, with specific ideas and inspiration for readers stateside to bring the beauty and spirit of Tuscany into their own home decor, meals, gardens, entertaining and, most important, outlook on life. In her inimitable warm and evocative tone, Frances helps readers develop an eye for authentic Tuscan style, with advice on how to:
• Choose a Tuscan color palette for the home, from earthy apricot tones to invigorating shades of antique blue.
• Personalize a room with fanciful door frames, unique painted furniture, and fresco murals.
• Cultivate a Tuscan garden, adding fountains, vine-covered pergolas, and terra-cotta urns among the herbs and flowers
• Select the best Italian vino. (Frances describes lunches at regional vineyards and imparts tips for pairing food and wine.)
• Create an atmosphere of irresistible, anytime hospitality—a casa aperta (open home).
• Make primo finds at local antiques markets. (And to help truly bring Tuscany home, shipping advice and market days for several Tuscan towns are included.)
• Set an imaginative Tuscan table using majolica and vintage linens.
• Enjoy the abundant flavors and easy simplicity of the Tuscan kitchen, with details on everything from olive oil and vino santo to pici and gnocchi, plus special homegrown menus and recipes.
• Make the most of a trip to Tuscany, visiting Frances’s favorite hill towns, restaurants, small museums, and other soothing places.
With more than 100 photos by acclaimed photographer Steven Rothfeld (including several of the Mayes’s California home and its Tuscan accents), 25 all-new recipes, and lists of resources for travelers and shoppers, Bringing Tuscany Home is a treasure trove of practical advice and memorable images.