Too Much Tuscan Sun
Unlike Under the Tuscan Sun and the flood of cookbooks touting the delights of the Tuscan table, this endearing, lightweight memoir was written by a native of the area. The author recounts the history and character of Chianti—the famous wine region at Tuscany’s geographic and cultural heart—and shares his most unforgettable experiences working as a Chianti tour guide for more than 12 years. Raised in Britain, Castagno began exploring Chianti’s countryside as a teenager and fell in love with its dilapidated farmhouses, abandoned in Italy’s post-WWII period of industrialization; for him, their stone walls, terracotta roofs and chestnut beams formed “well nigh irresistible” windows into Tuscany’s romantic past. As a guide, he shared these journeys with his clients, most of them Americans, including T.T., an overly curious businessman for whom a winery visit “was like taking a child to a chocolate factory”; and an Alabama couple who, sweetly, tried to set Castagno up with their daughter. The farmhouses were also the site of Castagno’s startling encounter with a couple of teenage artists and subsequent discovery about Tonio, a local, 94-year-old love machine. Castagno delivers his life story in simple, honest, heartfelt terms.