The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria

The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria

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by Marlena de Blasi
     
 

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Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her popular and critically acclaimed books A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, herSee more details below

Overview


Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her popular and critically acclaimed books A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her tale is by turns romantic and sensual, joyous and celebratory, as she and her husband search for a home in this city on a hill—finding one that turns out to be the former ballroom of a dilapidated sixteenth-century palazzo. Along the way, de Blasi befriends an array of colorful characters, including cooks and counts and shepherds and a lone violinist, cooking her way into the hearts of her Umbrian neighbors.

Brimming with life and kissed by romance, The Lady in the Palazzo perfectly captures the essence of a singular place and offers up a feast—and the recipes to prepare it!—for readers of all stripes.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
"De Blasi doesn't so much observe life as devour it. . . .Her robust appetite for life saturates the book."—Entertainment Weekly
Philadelphia Inquirer
"At the heart of this memoir is the continuing love story of a later-in-life romance. . . . Wow!"—The Philadelphia Inqurier
Pages Magazine
"Perfect for armchair travelers, foodies, or any reader who loves a romantic story about the joy of discovery in a foreign land."—Pages
Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram
“[De Blasi’s] poetic writing style, her meditative internal monologues, her celebration of traditional foods and her inclusion of a number of recipes from the region, make this a feast for armchair travelers, food enthusiasts, romantics and anyone who enjoys a good story with a happy ending.” –Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram
From the Publisher

“[De Blasi’s] poetic writing style, her meditative internal monologues, her celebration of traditional foods and her inclusion of a number of recipes from the region, make this a feast for armchair travelers, food enthusiasts, romantics and anyone who enjoys a good story with a happy ending.” –Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram
Publishers Weekly
Following A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany, de Blasi's new book, set in Orvieto, is ostensibly about her effort, with her Italian husband, first to find, then to renovate and at last to move into the ballroom of a splendid, dilapidated medieval palazzo. The renovation becomes an engrossing portrait of the town and some of its inhabitants. Nothing goes according to plan or schedule, but de Blasi uses the years (literally) of waiting to explore the life of the town, centering on the home-based caff -kitchen of her friend Miranda and the caff 's patrons. De Blasi's exuberance and her American disregard of Italian class distinctions at times distress her new friends and also her husband, but eventually, almost by accident, she pulls off a coup of diplomatic d tente just after they finally set up housekeeping in the palazzo. Vvid writing and an affectionate appreciation of the sounds, scenes and flavors of Italy, as well as of the somewhat eccentric Umbrians she meets, will charm lovers of that country. (Jan. 26) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
De Blasi's book will make you hungry, and that's a good thing. The latest gastronomic adventure from the author of A Thousand Days in Venice brings to life an Italian culture steeped in culinary tradition and social eccentricity. De Blasi's narrative focuses on the city of Orvieto a city "built on wine" in Italy's Umbria, where she and her husband, Fernando, search for a home and find one: a former ballroom in a 15th-century palazzo. Her exploration of her new life in Orvieto is meal-centered, showing us mouth-watering community feasts, fascinating culinary traditions did you know that polenta should only be stirred clockwise? and quirky characters who help pass the time between espressos and the construction in the author's home. Recipes are included, so in the end, de Blasi's Umbria may or may not be a place you need to visit, but, thanks to this book, it will already be a place that you have "tasted" and "seen." Recommended for public libraries. Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A third sumptuous volume about the author's quest to find a home in Italy. After A Thousand Days in Venice (2002) and A Thousand Days in Tuscany (2004), de Blasi and her husband move to Umbria, a place where "stories and sins are passed down like sets of silver." There, they enter into a complex, decidedly Italian contract with a local family, the storied Ubaldini, who own a grand, decrepit palazzo. The couple will pony up money to repair the old building, then move in for a few years of rent-free living. While the palazzo is being made habitable, they set up house in a charming cottage-charming, that is, except for the mold and the absence of a kitchen, which poses quite a challenge for the gourmand author. In describing this new life in Umbria, de Blasi follows the formula of her two earlier books, and it works like a tried-and-true recipe. The local eccentrics (and all the locals are eccentric, of course) are charming and sometimes speak real wisdom, though not so often as to be precious. When one of de Blasi's friends cautions her that "Most all of us abide in ruins. . . . Our own, the ones we inherit," he is speaking about more than old houses. The food, of course, is an epicurean's fantasy. The author prepares and includes the recipes for "rustic, refined" dishes like pan-sauteed pears with pecorina and brown-sugar gelato with caramelized blood oranges. In her hands, food also becomes the stuff of metaphor and simile: Her eye shadow is a dab of milk chocolate, she flicks away fatigue "like crumbs of old cake," walls are red like pomegranate seeds. De Blasi is a skilled, quirky writer; her prose is by turns reserved, rococo, earthy and, above all, fresh-fresh, like rich cream andstrawberries, she might say. Delicious.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565124738
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/26/2007
Pages:
317
Product dimensions:
4.78(w) x 7.82(h) x 1.24(d)

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