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Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home In Italy

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home In Italy

3.6 104
by Frances Mayes

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20th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword
Twenty years ago, Frances Mayes--widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer--introduced readers to a wondrous new world when she bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Under the Tuscan  inspired generations to embark on their


20th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword
Twenty years ago, Frances Mayes--widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer--introduced readers to a wondrous new world when she bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Under the Tuscan  inspired generations to embark on their own journeys--whether that be flying to a foreign country in search of themselves, savoring one of the book's dozens of delicious seasonal recipes, or simply being transported by Mayes's signature evocative, sensory language. Now, with a new afterword from the Bard of Tuscany herself, the 20th anniversary edition of Under the Tuscan Sun brings us up-to-date with the book's most beloved characters.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A New York Times Notable Book of 1997

"This beautifully written memoir about taking chances, living in Italy. loving a house and, always, the pleasures of food, would make a perfect gift for a loved one.  But it's so delicious, read it first yourself."
--USA Today

"Irresistible...a sensous book for a sensous countryside."
--Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“An intense celebration of what [Mayes] calls ‘the voluptuousness of Italian life’ . . . appealing and very vivid . . . [The] book seems like the kind of thing you’d tuck into a picnic basket on an August day . . . or better yet, keep handy on the bedside table in the depths of January.”
New York Times Book Review

"Armchair travel at its most enticing."

“Mayes [has] perfect vision. . . . I do not doubt that centuries form now, whoever lives in Bramasole will one day uncover bits of pottery used at Mayes’ table. She has, by the sweat of her brow and the strength of her vision, become a layer in the history of this place.”
--Los Angeles Times

"After buying a rundown villa in rural Tuscany, the American author Frances Mayes moves to Cortona to renovate the property and learn more about the Italian dolce vita. Her bestselling memoir on her time there paints a vivid description of the town, the people and the lush surrounding countryside of rolling hills and vineyards. A poet and a gourmet cook, Mayes includes a number of chapters on food, replete with classic Italian recipes to further whet the appetite."
--Irish Times

In the spirit of Peter Mayle's bestselling memoir A Year in Provence, gourmet and poet Frances Mayes chronicles her experience of buying, restoring, and residing in an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside. In rich, golden prose, Mayes details the long summer days spent working in the garden, excursions to the nearby towns and markets, and joyful interactions with the local people. Mayes lets armchair travelers share the joy of living in Italy through her wonderful memoir.
Library Journal
Frances Mayes made a name for herself writing about her love affair with Tuscany, where she bought and refurbished an abandoned villa. She tells the full story in Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy (Broadway. 1997. ISBN 0-7679-0038-3. pap. $15); Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Broadway. 2000. ISBN 0-7679-0284-X. pap. $15); and In Tuscany (Broadway. 2000. ISBN 0-7679-0535-0. $35). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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7.96(w) x 10.86(h) x 0.82(d)

Read an Excerpt

In 1990, our first summer here, I bought an oversized blank book with Florentine paper on the cover and blue leather binding.  On the first page I wrote ITALY.  The book looked as though it should have immortal poetry in it but I began with lists of wildflowers, lists of projects, new words, sketches of tile in Pompeii.  I described rooms,  trees, bird calls.  I added planting advice, "Plant sunflowers when the moon crosses Libra," although I had no clue myself as to when that might be.  I wrote about the people we met and the food we cooked.  The book became a chronicle of our first four years here.  Today it is stuffed with menus, postcards of paintings, a drawing of a floor plan of an abbey, Italian poems, and diagrams of the garden.  Because it is thick, I still have room in it for a few more summers.  Now the blue book has become Under the Tuscan Sun, a natural outgrowth of my first pleasures here.  Restoring then improving the house, transforming an overgrown jungle into its proper function as a farm for olives and grapes, exploring the layers and layers of Tuscany and Umbria, cooking in a foreign kitchen and discovering the many links between food and the culture--these intense joys frame the deeper pleasure of learning to live another kind of life.  To bury the grape tendril in such a way that it shoots out new growth I recognize easily as a metaphor for the way life must change from time to time if we are to go forward in our thinking.

Meet the Author

FRANCES MAYES is the author of a series of Tuscany memoirs, including Every Day in Tuscany and Bella Tuscany;  the travel memoir A Year in the World; the illustrated books In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany HomeSwan, a novel; The Discovery of Poetry, a text for readers; five books of poetry; and most recently a southern memoir, Under Magnolia.  She divides her time between homes in Italy and North Carolina.  

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Under the Tuscan Sun 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 105 reviews.
Mrs_Fitzwilliam_Darcy More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book knowing that it was going to be nothing like the movie. And let me tell you, I was right. I knew it wouldn't have the fluff and romance the movie did, and I was okay with that- or so I thought.
This book is beautifully written, and if you're one of those armchair travelers, you'll absolutely LOVE IT- go buy it right now! Although, if you're not...then think a bit more before.
I think that this book would be something fantastic to read if you wanted to relax and escape from your world, if only for a little bit. Maybe the reason I didn't like it so much was because I was on my school's winter break, and therefore- already too relaxed. This book had no action, no romance, and nothing really to get me INTO it. Then again, if I ever have a really rough day where everything seems to be going wrong- I will
definitely pick up this book and read a couple of pages. Because it's relaxing, it's interesting, it's descriptions are flawless.
If you want to read this book and ENJOY it, you have to love learning, because that's what it is, really. It's teaching you about her experience in Italy and the country's culture as well.
To sum it up, this book is for those who love biographies, beautiful and descriptive writing, culture, and something that you can sit down and relax to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader. I don't waste time on books if they don't catch my interest right in the beginning. Hey, there are sooo many books out there to read and so little time. Anway, this book is beyond words. I tasted the food described and felt the sun on my back and sensed the colors of the terrain. It was such a treat to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book that transports them to another place! She has a new one coming out too....titled "Swan".
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the best part of the book was to remind me how pathetic most Americans have become in reference to taking the time to enjoy the 'given'. 'Given' meaning such things as the simple joy of food, wildlife, what makes an individual unique, taking a walk, etc. In the U.S. we are so concerned with making a buck, doing things as fast as we can so that we have more time to do what? This book reminded me at least of what is most important and how the most enjoyable things in life are either in your home or right outside the door....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 18 years old, and I recently returned from a trip to Italy, on which I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Frances Mayes, right outside her home, Bramasole. For all of the readers who do not understand how she could love those simple things so much, it would be hard to imagine....unless you have been there, which I have. Italy, particularly the region of Tuscany, is a breathtaking place that cannot possibly be done justice in a book. I love this book simply because when I read it, I remembered how much I loved being there.
Bellamia77 More than 1 year ago
I was so disappointed after starting this book. It is a very hard read! In every way possible. It does not pull you in like it should, hard to follow and because of this hard to keep patient enough to keep reading and give it a chance. I'm not fond of Frances Mayes style of writing. The movie pulled me in and from there I loved the story. It hurts me to say I don't like the book. I normally like the book much better than the movie, that's just not the case now. Someday I may pick it up again and give it another try.
Laura28 More than 1 year ago
Under the Tuscan Sun follows creative writing professor Frances Mayes and her husband as they move to Italy and restore a villa, all while sampling the local food and learning how to be Italian.

This book is mostly about home restoration and food, two topics Mayes manages to make both humorous and interesting. I loved the book, but there were a few things that bothered me.

First, Mayes' descriptions of her childhood throughout the book scream of wealth and privilege... not nice at all. Secondly, her attitude towards the Catholic church really bothered me. She seemed to almost make fun of it, going to far as to mention that she wants a font of holy water for her home! I find this extremely offensive, being Catholic myself.

But those things are few and far between in the book, and besides them, the book is great, very relaxing to read and slow-paced, so it's easy to follow. It's good to read over and over, and the recipes included sound so delicious, you just want to try them yourself. Unless you're someone looking for a romance or action book, you'll love Under the Tuscan Sun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i was dissapointed. The book is wonderful in it s own way. Very discriptive and inviting with a few great cooking lessons in toe. however, i was really hoping it would be just like the movie , which this book is clearly nothing at all like the movie. It s almost as if it is 2 completly different stories that just happen to have the same name .
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfull book on the exsperiences of Frances Mayers and her friend Ed who buy bramasole villa in Tuscany. The author goes into every detail about the house, gardens and problems with remodling. As well as the countryside of Tuscany. If you are looking for something like the movie, this book is not for you. The movie is pure fiction. This book is more like a biography, and need to be read as such.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you're after 'chills & thrills,' this isn't for you. This is an adventure of the spirit, for those who enjoy learning as they read. Ms. Mayes & her companion Ed Kleinschmidt take the risk of buying a run-down house in Tuscany &, over the succeeding summers, renovate it, making discoveries about the house, the surrounding country, their neighbors, & themselves.
HP_Enthusiast More than 1 year ago
This is a very detailed book. Like a previous review stated, it is not a "before bed" book. It's more of a rainy Sunday afternoon curl up on the couch with a book, blanket, and a glass of wine. I bought this book because I wanted to see how close the movie was to it. There are bits and pieces from the book in it, but doesn't come close. If you enjoy the movie, you will love this book. I can't wait to read Bella next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A lovely book about a woman who took a chance and changed her life. The descriptions of the flowers, views and daily life are marvelous. Although I've never been to Tuscany, her book has taken me there and I will never forget it.
Cookery More than 1 year ago
Under the Tuscan Sun, (20th Anniversary Edition) Anniversaries bring reflection and hopefully celebration. Reading Frances Mayes’20th birthday edition of Under the Tuscan Sun delivered both reflection and celebration to this reader. Long before Under the Tuscan Sun was a blockbuster movie; I picked up the first edition of the book. Journeying with Mayes the first time was wonderful. Her poetic sentences in a prose book inspired me. As did the Italian people, recipes and landscapes Mayes encountered. The second read brought a deeper sense of wonderment as I lingered on each page Under the Tuscan Sun. The first edition of Under the Tuscan Sun came out during the pre-iPhone era. Still, the spirit of the book holds steady in any age. Two decades after the original publication, the symbology of finding home and restoration is significant for many of us. The young Frances Mayes describes her post-divorce, new life and home restoration in Italy. She delves into dreams of angels and longings. Scorpions are (literally) cleared from her home. Mayes contemplates the influences of her Southern upbringing. Then, eloquently elaborates on the similarities between her Tuscany villa and her Southern home. Reconciliation. Reconstruction. Restoration. Themes explored by Mayes mean more to me today than on my first pass. As I’ve swept the figurative scorpions taunting me, a space has cleared for building. Emptiness, saying goodbye to experiences and relationships has been part of the process. Just as Mayes’ perception of her surroundings is colored by her Southern youth; Japanese cultural influences has served as the backdrop of my navigation of Self. The blessings of the present are bountiful. I may not have whacked the walls of my Tuscan house like Mayes; but I’ve seen many illusions crumble with maturity. Mayes brings to Light musings of the Soul in Under the Tuscan Sun. This review would not be complete, however, if I did not mention Mayes’ explanation and exploration of Etruscan and Roman history. Her book also details great inspirations for those creating Italian travel itineraries. Speaking of inspiration, Mayes was introducing farm-to-table recipes twenty years before it was a trend. I highly recommend you read Under the Tuscan Sun. Even if you never read her story – which would be your loss - purchasing the book for the recipes would be worth the cost. Mayes generously packs soul revelations, sublime landscapes, travel, history and food into one gorgeous feast. Don’t wait for anther 20 years to pass. Pick up the 20th Anniversary Edition of Under the Tuscan Sun. I received this book in exchange for a review from Blogging for the Books. All opinions are my own.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
Under the Tuscan Sun reminds me of Frances Mayes’ book Under Magnolia. Mayes possesses the uncanny ability to describe ordinary events of her life and enrich the moment with her elegant vocabulary. The novel covers more than the movie starring Diane Lane. Mayes comments, sometimes too long, on the experience of buying and house and living in a Tuscan village in Italy. In reading the book, I am reminded that Tuscan life revolves around seasons and the earth. The modern conveniences such as cell phones and ipads and computers and television do not exist. I am not sure that is a life that I could relish and enjoy. Mayes presents a book rich in description and full of enthusiasm for a healthy existence. Mayes also presents a comical side to life, she looks at life with no blinders.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie of the same name and was very disappointed to see the only thing in common was the restoration of the villa. The movie was very meaningful and the book seemed like a painfully long blog. Wish I had bought the movie instead.
Book-WomanRS More than 1 year ago
The continuation of under the Tuscan Sun, written with a much lighter tone. I felt like I was living in Italy during the time I read the book. Made me want to go to Tuscany tomorrow!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you’ve ever struggled to pound a nail, a screw or a bolt into 150-year-old beech wall framing (yes, it could double for cast iron), this could be the book for your coffee breaks. It worked for me. You may end up thinking your renovation problems, while tough, are no big deal. This well-written memoir includes not only the details, and occasional turmoil, of renovating a very old Tuscan house but also life in a wonderfully pastoral landscape with tales of forays into village markets and other near-by venues. Not least you practically get to know the variously talented, infuriating, funny and caring locals. And in case it all starts sounding like time for lunch, there are even some Tuscan recipes. I should also say that I far preferred the book to the movie which, while entertaining, did not and probably could not begin to do justice to this artful memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A married couple who live and work in california are rehab the house and garden not a divorcee if i went anywhere foreign to live it would be italy next to norway and a fyord buska
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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lynnelondon More than 1 year ago
But a lovely book to read. Gives a wonderful insight to living in Italy. Wish I could trade places with her!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago