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Tuscan Echoes, a Season in Italy

Tuscan Echoes, a Season in Italy

4.7 3
by Mark G. Smith

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Italia. Mark's love affair with all things Italian began as a child, when his family lived along the Tyrrhenian Sea near Florence. As an adult, he has spent over thirty years traveling across Italy's remarkable landscape. Tuscan Echoes chronicles one memorable season during which the author revisits some of the sights and sounds that have haunted his dreams for years.


Italia. Mark's love affair with all things Italian began as a child, when his family lived along the Tyrrhenian Sea near Florence. As an adult, he has spent over thirty years traveling across Italy's remarkable landscape. Tuscan Echoes chronicles one memorable season during which the author revisits some of the sights and sounds that have haunted his dreams for years.

Set amid the glorious surroundings of Florence, Tuscany, Umbria, Assisi, and Venice, the author's journey takes readers to quiet, out-of-the-way corners where moments of the mysterious and the sublime spring to life: ghosts appear in villas; fireflies illuminate a Florentine garden; a haunted gondola rests, landlocked, in Venice; marionettes dance in Assisi.

Tuscan Echoes is a uniquely personal portrait of a timeless place, a beloved land, and generous, gregarious, people. Sensual, passionate, mystical and full of surprisingly intimate moments, this luminous debut work is a journey you must not miss.

Product Details

Almar Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.40(d)

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language, stunning natural beauty, and friendly, open people conquered my heart and shaped a dream.

In the late 1950s our family lived along the Tyrrhenian Sea, not far from Florence. It was during those early years that I came to know the Italian people--and their country--in a deeply personal way.

We often accepted gracious invitations for dinner from our landlord and his family. Their living room had large western-facing windows that welcomed in late afternoon light. The air was filled with the smells of the fire and of the kitchen's roasting meats. After dinner, the landlord's wife, Anna, would sit at a baby grand piano near the windows and play music of the Italian masters while we sat satiated and dumbstruck by the beauty around us.

These were times when we were wrapped in the intimacy of Italian life, times when the country seeped into our souls. A love of Italy pulsed through our hearts, forming the core of memories with which it continues to bless us.

Thirty years of visits to this richly diverse land have further reinforced my passion for all things Italian. I've walked the corridors and countryside of Italian history, spent hours in museums full of too many masterpieces to recall, and enjoyed espressos in cafés near unnamed piazzas. I have spent time talking with shopkeepers about the weather, the city, and the river, of politics, music, and love. When I have driven the roads of Italy, umbrella pines along the roads flashed by; the towers of Renaissance churches spiked the sky; ancient Roman villas or centuries-old aqueducts faded behind me. The beautiful soul of Italy seeped into me so deeply that I had to return to live, as a semi-Fiorentino, (nearly Florentine). Every year the desire to return, to live there, grew stronger and stronger. Two years ago, my opportunity arrived.

With the help of a small U.S. based company, Homebase Abroad, I made arrangements to lease an apartment in the center of Florence, steps from its ancient bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. The small retreat, directly on the River Arno, offered views over the city in every direction, a large terrace, and privacy. And so, on the first day of May, bags packed and plans set, I set off to bask for months in the spiritual and soulful power of Italy.

Florence was my home for that season. There was a two-week trip into the heart of Umbria, and a few precious days were set aside to visit another glorious Italian city, Venice. I spent the latter part of the season exploring the region of Tuscany. A few friends visited. All in all, I lived a life once only dreamed of. I wrote this book, and I flourished in the moments that so many take for granted.

Time became the gift that provided opportunities to take in quiet moments and places, to capture the special essence of Italian life. Even now, I need only close my eyes to feel the heat of that Tuscan season. There were days when an infinite clear blue sky soared overhead, hot breezes shrilled the cypresses of cloisters, olive trees shaded fields of straw punctuated by bright red poppies, and aisles of Chianti grapes marched forever up every hill. On every day, in every corner turned, a new discovery was made; with every museum entered or church visited, there were thousands of other events that reached out to be remembered. As the seasons turned, leaves blew at my feet and, eventually, the rains of fall arrived. My hope was for this beautiful land and her people to teach me, to show me new sights, new sounds, to renew a tired soul. The Italians, as they always have done, welcomed me in.
This book is my gift to Italy and to those of you who love her. It is my hope that a poetic soul will be discovered, and that you will find within these pages some deeper understanding of what makes this place rest so powerfully, yet so softly, upon our hearts. To those who have yet to visit Italy, Tuscany in particular, it is my hope that you will be inspired to a moment when you simply say, "I must go."

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Tuscan Echoes, a Season in Italy 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a writer, I was greatly impressed with Mark Gordon Smith's ability to transport readers to this fascinating country with simple, evocative descriptions. As a lover of everything Tuscan, I felt I was walking alongside Smith on his journey. And as the son of Italian immigrants (also from Tuscany), I felt my ties renewed and strengthened by this beautiful love song.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Exquisite travelogue memoir of author Smith's 'season in Italy,' notable for its richly descriptive passages about place, its tenderness of spirit, and its remarkable effectiveness at translating with exactitude, the grand sense of nostalgia Smith feels for 'the sights and sounds that have haunted' his dreams for years. Writes he: 'The wood-covered hills of Monte Subasio, above Assisi, were well known to Saint Francis. Before our class meets each day, there is time to explore the many paths that cross the mountain. The fresh air and cooling shadows of the forest offer welcome privacy from the city below. I spend a part of each day in the high reaches of the hills. As I approach the intersection of two paths, I stop to take in the view. Trees on each side of the trail gather closer overhead and rise to a meeting point, creating an archway. The shade-dappled path leads up into a nave as light, filtering through trees, takes on the colors of stained-glass windows. The sun pierces through the pine-scented haze of woodland air; its rays fall on the dusty, earthen floor. Birds move back and forth across the path, their music filling the air.' Readers join Smith for a vicarious trip to Tuscany, Umbria, Assisi and Venice ¿ and to Florence and its surrounds, where in the 1950s Smith and his family lived along the Tyrrhenian Sea. Smith entered the corporate business world ¿ and then left that world to write ¿ and owners of Tuscan Echoes will be especially glad that he did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading Tuscan Echoes, a Season in Italy and had to take a moment to comment. I have read a lot of other works about Tuscany, most recently 'Under the Tuscan Sun.' What Mark is able to achieve in his work is a unique, unusual, sensuous, passionate look into the lives of Italians. Rather than make the usual pass at museums and art galleries, the more typical tourist attractions, he directs our attention to the small, hardly noticed, moments in the day-to-day lives of Italians. His visions of travelling across Tuscany and Umbria and his ability to put me in the places he writes about is so rare that I found myself putting the book down, from time to time, closing my eyes and taking a moment to see myself in the places he describes. It seems to me that this book is ideal for both the travelled visitor to Italy as well as the the first time visitor who seeks the unusual, less traveled, by-ways of Italy. You should read this book!