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
Mayes displays a gift for conveying everyday life through her writing...Perfect for those with the yen but not the means for a second home...Mayes presents a simpler, less frantic version of how to live ones's life.
Much better than the movie of the same name - not even the same story! Tells of the work and challenges when an American couple buys a villa in Tuscany that needs lots of work to make it inhabitable. Will make you want to go to Tuscany. Even has a great recipe for asparagus!
I LOVED this book. Having spent some time in Tuscany, Frances Mayes brings back sweet, wonderful memories, and fills in the blanks for me about what I missed or did not understand. It is a wonderful book to read before a trip to Italy. It made me want to go back- ditch life here and just pop over and buy a villa (ah, dreams!). This book is well written, well organized, and awesome!
Never read Under the Tuscan Sun, but I saw the 2003 movie starring Diane Lane.
From Kirkus Reviews
Yes, la dolce vita, but only for some. In the nearly 40 years since Fellini's film first ushered the expression into our lexicon, said vita has been drained of all its original sardonic content, its biting irony, and its social criticism. This sequel to Mayes's bestselling Under the Tuscan Sun, about her second home and life reborn in Tuscany, doesn't preserve Fellini's spirit either, though her account is inevitably charming. Sometimes, too, a tad annoying. For the author does occasionally come off (along with her husband) as cantankerous or supremely unselfconscious. Not appreciating the cold spring rains in Tuscany, for instance, the lucky pair decides, on a whim, to fly to balmy Palermo; on arriving in a hotel room without a view of that city's justly famous palm trees, gli Americani just march down to the lobby and demand one. Yet we are finally won over by Mayes. Who could fail to affirm this poet's lush descriptions of the rolling Tuscan hills, with their timeless olive trees and patient oxen? Equally beautiful are Mayes's evocations of Italians as sincere and welcoming. She realizes that, despite their fame for sweets, the natives actually enjoy foods with a bitter taste or, as husband Ed remarks, they "seem to have acquired more tastes than many of us." Other factual tidbits include a survey of the etymology of the Sangiovese grape--used for Chianti, Brunello, and Vino Nobile--as deriving from the "blood of love." Lovely, and no small consolation to anyone who's far from Tuscany.