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Frances Mayes invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Frances Mayes, whose enchanting #1 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the world fall in love with Tuscany, invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Happiness? The color of i Frances Mayes invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Frances Mayes, whose enchanting #1 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the world fall in love with Tuscany, invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Happiness? The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone. That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf. The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word "zephyr"--this mindless simplicity can be called happiness. Having spent her summers in Tuscany for the past several years, Frances Mayes relished the opportunity to experience the pleasures of primavera, an Italian spring. A sabbatical from teaching in San Francisco allowed her to return to Cortona--and her beloved house, Bramasole--just as the first green appeared on the rocky hillsides. Bella Tuscany, a companion volume to Under the Tuscan Sun, is her passionate and lyrical account of her continuing love affair with Italy. Now truly at home there, Mayes writes of her deepening connection to the land, her flourishing friendships with local people, the joys of art, food, and wine, and the rewards and occasional heartbreaks of her villa's ongoing restoration. It is also a memoir of a season of change, and of renewed possibility. As spring becomes summer she revives Bramasole's lush gardens, meets the challenges of learning a new language, tours regions from Sicily to the Veneto, and faces transitions in her family life. Filled with recipes from her Tuscan kitchen and written in the sensuous and evocative prose that has become her hallmark, Bella Tuscany is a celebration of the sweet life in Italy.


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Frances Mayes invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Frances Mayes, whose enchanting #1 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the world fall in love with Tuscany, invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Happiness? The color of i Frances Mayes invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Frances Mayes, whose enchanting #1 New York Times bestseller Under the Tuscan Sun made the world fall in love with Tuscany, invites us back for a delightful new season of friendship, festivity, and food there and throughout Italy. Happiness? The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone. That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf. The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word "zephyr"--this mindless simplicity can be called happiness. Having spent her summers in Tuscany for the past several years, Frances Mayes relished the opportunity to experience the pleasures of primavera, an Italian spring. A sabbatical from teaching in San Francisco allowed her to return to Cortona--and her beloved house, Bramasole--just as the first green appeared on the rocky hillsides. Bella Tuscany, a companion volume to Under the Tuscan Sun, is her passionate and lyrical account of her continuing love affair with Italy. Now truly at home there, Mayes writes of her deepening connection to the land, her flourishing friendships with local people, the joys of art, food, and wine, and the rewards and occasional heartbreaks of her villa's ongoing restoration. It is also a memoir of a season of change, and of renewed possibility. As spring becomes summer she revives Bramasole's lush gardens, meets the challenges of learning a new language, tours regions from Sicily to the Veneto, and faces transitions in her family life. Filled with recipes from her Tuscan kitchen and written in the sensuous and evocative prose that has become her hallmark, Bella Tuscany is a celebration of the sweet life in Italy.

30 review for Bella Tuscany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Ennchanting though Italy may be, it's hard to keep caring about the endless details of exactly what the author ate or what broke in the house or was planted in the garden. This book is often alleged to be a "meditation," which seems to be a polite term for "has no plot or real character development," and no amount of description of a sun-soaked landscape or excellent red wine seems able to overcome that. Ennchanting though Italy may be, it's hard to keep caring about the endless details of exactly what the author ate or what broke in the house or was planted in the garden. This book is often alleged to be a "meditation," which seems to be a polite term for "has no plot or real character development," and no amount of description of a sun-soaked landscape or excellent red wine seems able to overcome that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I loved Under the Tuscan Sun but was greatly disappointed by this follow-up. While the first book was beautifully crafted and each word seemed to be carefully chosen, this book seemed slapped together with little care. It's as though her editor said, "Hey, your first book is a hit! Give us more of that Tuscany stuff!" To which she promptly obliged, with this book and cookbooks and journals and a bad movie. I loved Under the Tuscan Sun but was greatly disappointed by this follow-up. While the first book was beautifully crafted and each word seemed to be carefully chosen, this book seemed slapped together with little care. It's as though her editor said, "Hey, your first book is a hit! Give us more of that Tuscany stuff!" To which she promptly obliged, with this book and cookbooks and journals and a bad movie.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Italy is a beautiful country with a rich history. This story is largely frivolous. The description of a sunset as "old underwear pink" landed this book firmly in the giveaway pile. If you want to read a book that glorifies everything Italian (deservedly or not) then you will probably like this book. If glorifying everything because it is Italian may make you gag, skip this book. Italy is a beautiful country with a rich history. This story is largely frivolous. The description of a sunset as "old underwear pink" landed this book firmly in the giveaway pile. If you want to read a book that glorifies everything Italian (deservedly or not) then you will probably like this book. If glorifying everything because it is Italian may make you gag, skip this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Frances Mayes’ Bella Tuscany was, in my opinion, a gem of travel writing. Her work is flowing and brilliant, with amazing pictures painted in easy and unpretentious words. If I could, I would write just like this. The book gives a beautiful, honest picture of real life in Tuscany, and after reading it I know that someone, somewhere, shares my love of Italy at a basic level. Mayes’ writing is wonderful and easy to follow. The book even shares some great sounding recipes from both her time in Italy Frances Mayes’ Bella Tuscany was, in my opinion, a gem of travel writing. Her work is flowing and brilliant, with amazing pictures painted in easy and unpretentious words. If I could, I would write just like this. The book gives a beautiful, honest picture of real life in Tuscany, and after reading it I know that someone, somewhere, shares my love of Italy at a basic level. Mayes’ writing is wonderful and easy to follow. The book even shares some great sounding recipes from both her time in Italy and her South Georgia background. I was thrilled with the experience of reading the book and will be more than happy if she chooses to put out another. My favorite chapter was her discussion about learning the language. I found a lot of passages that perfectly expressed my feelings about Italian, my thoughts about why I wanted to learn the language, and my concerns about whether or not I ever would. It’s nice to know there are other people out there who feel like I do! Verdict: A+

  5. 4 out of 5

    Audrey Saltarelli

    Rich white lady spends half her time in Italy. Writes a pretentious book about " the simple life" and thinks that if she uses enough descriptive words it will hide the fact that she is a bad writer. Rich white lady spends half her time in Italy. Writes a pretentious book about " the simple life" and thinks that if she uses enough descriptive words it will hide the fact that she is a bad writer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kerri Barton

    Not recommended if you like books with a plot, or characters, or action, or point really. The only reason you should read this is if you live or plan to travel to Tuscany and want to get a feel for Italian life as seen through the eyes of someone very keen on gardening, cooking, and day trips. This is not a healthy memoir, where you can get behind the voice and journey of the author. She doesn't overcome anything, nor does she provide you with insight on anything more than which asparagus recipe Not recommended if you like books with a plot, or characters, or action, or point really. The only reason you should read this is if you live or plan to travel to Tuscany and want to get a feel for Italian life as seen through the eyes of someone very keen on gardening, cooking, and day trips. This is not a healthy memoir, where you can get behind the voice and journey of the author. She doesn't overcome anything, nor does she provide you with insight on anything more than which asparagus recipe she likes best. I read the whole thing for a book club. The other members gave up on it much sooner because there is nothing substantial at all to hold on to for book lovers. This should have been edited down into a couple travel articles at best.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aylin

    This book wasn't as polished as "Under the Tuscan Sun". It didn't seem tidied up, but had a very real streak to it- right out of the journals and onto the page without cleansing the raw impressions and thoughts of the author to please mass readers. This made it a bit uneven but that did not detract from the whole for me- perhaps even added to it for this type of book. I found the author to be more of a real person. This book wasn't as polished as "Under the Tuscan Sun". It didn't seem tidied up, but had a very real streak to it- right out of the journals and onto the page without cleansing the raw impressions and thoughts of the author to please mass readers. This made it a bit uneven but that did not detract from the whole for me- perhaps even added to it for this type of book. I found the author to be more of a real person.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    This book just goes on and on about nothing! The only think I learnt was you buy a lot of veg very cheap on the market in Italy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Morrell

    I really enjoyed "Under A Tuscan Sun" by the same author and was hoping for more of the same. This is really meandering and steam of consciousness though, and it really could have benefited from more structure, editing, and plot. Tuscany in the spring really does sound lovely though. I really enjoyed "Under A Tuscan Sun" by the same author and was hoping for more of the same. This is really meandering and steam of consciousness though, and it really could have benefited from more structure, editing, and plot. Tuscany in the spring really does sound lovely though.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    If you want to be transported and transformed this summer, read this book. Frances Mayes lulls you into the restorative cycle of Italian life. Perched in her idyllic villa, she journals sparsely with a writer’s mind and a food-lover’s heart. She effortlessly recreates the tastes, sights, sounds, and characters of Tuscany in this follow up to her successful novel-turned-film, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Frances and her husband are restoring an ancient farmhouse in the countryside, and throw themselve If you want to be transported and transformed this summer, read this book. Frances Mayes lulls you into the restorative cycle of Italian life. Perched in her idyllic villa, she journals sparsely with a writer’s mind and a food-lover’s heart. She effortlessly recreates the tastes, sights, sounds, and characters of Tuscany in this follow up to her successful novel-turned-film, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Frances and her husband are restoring an ancient farmhouse in the countryside, and throw themselves whole-heartedly into maintaining the villa’s authenticity, efficiency, and luxury. Mayes nurtures native wildflowers and noshes on local beans, while scouring pottery shops for serving dishes and barrels to make homemade limoncella. However, Mayes is an American undergoing an Italian education of sorts, and thus rightfully peppers the narrative with reflections and observations of an outsider looking into an existence she can never fully know. Their lives back in San Francisco call over and over again, and it is this external awareness that makes this book perfectly bittersweet and a comfort to all of us self-doubting ex-patriots at heart.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    Once again we visit Frances Mayes and her husband at their home in Cortona, Italy, a ancient hill town in Tuscany. She's a lovely writer, and her descriptions of the characters, the food, the gardens - and the work involved in making and keeping them so beautiful - draw the reader in until you feel like you're right there beside her. Especially entertaining is the chapter on her difficulties with the Italian language: "Now that I have more understanding of Italian, I have greater occasions to ma Once again we visit Frances Mayes and her husband at their home in Cortona, Italy, a ancient hill town in Tuscany. She's a lovely writer, and her descriptions of the characters, the food, the gardens - and the work involved in making and keeping them so beautiful - draw the reader in until you feel like you're right there beside her. Especially entertaining is the chapter on her difficulties with the Italian language: "Now that I have more understanding of Italian, I have greater occasions to make a bigger fool of myself." If the price of airline tickets are too high for you right now, read this instead(assuming you have read Under the Tuscan Sun first, so you know HOW this Californian English Prof and her hubby came to be in this situation...). And don't assume that, because you saw the movie, you know the story. Two entirely different stories. I was appalled at the movie!

  12. 5 out of 5

    LK Hunsaker

    I love Italy! It's amazing that a memoir set in Italy can make it sound boring, but I have to give up on this one. Place names are thrown in one after another with no particular importance other than the author being able to say "I was there," and there is no depth. A fourth of the way in and I have no idea who this author really is or what she's about. She's bland. Maybe she isn't in real life, but when it came to the scene where she's watching other people have fun and moaning that they don't I love Italy! It's amazing that a memoir set in Italy can make it sound boring, but I have to give up on this one. Place names are thrown in one after another with no particular importance other than the author being able to say "I was there," and there is no depth. A fourth of the way in and I have no idea who this author really is or what she's about. She's bland. Maybe she isn't in real life, but when it came to the scene where she's watching other people have fun and moaning that they don't even care if she's watching and not part of it, I had to quit. I have better things to do with my time. The two stars are for the setting that could be an exquisite backdrop and some small bits of interesting garden information.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read it for the 2nd time and skipped a lof of pages. Pity there is no map of her garden in the book ... Because that was the most interesting part, and the recipes of course. Not all the trips she made with her husband, I did not like reading about those. +++++++++++ It was like reading her other book, Under the Tuscan Sun, for the second time ! Amazing how somebody can get away with publishing a book with the same anekdotes and stories. Not sure about the recipes, have not compared those yet. Ho I read it for the 2nd time and skipped a lof of pages. Pity there is no map of her garden in the book ... Because that was the most interesting part, and the recipes of course. Not all the trips she made with her husband, I did not like reading about those. +++++++++++ It was like reading her other book, Under the Tuscan Sun, for the second time ! Amazing how somebody can get away with publishing a book with the same anekdotes and stories. Not sure about the recipes, have not compared those yet. However, it was good to read again about the interaction between people, the respect people have for each other in this country, her plans for her house and garden, etc.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Mayes reminded me why I became interested in this genre in the first place. Sequel to her ubiquitous Under the Tuscan Sun, she describes her travels as the guide we all wish we could have should we have the good fortune to visit these places ourselves. I particularly enjoyed the topical chapters on gardening and cooking, and noted several pages in my own journal for future reference.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Beyer

    After Under the Tuscan Sun this book was a major disappointment. I feel the author must have been given an advance by her publisher and therefore had to come up with something so she just strung random thoughts/notes together. Even the title was misleading, as it feels like less than half the book was about Tuscany. I’m now officially put off reading this author.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Malynda

    Couldn’t finish it. Couldn’t even get into it. Meh.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Mayes continues her exploration of Tuscany in this follow up to her first book. A series of essays about the sweet life, food, neighbors, journeys, and house restoration, there seems to be something for everyone here. I've been to many of the towns and places she describes, even staying in Cortona and taking a snap with her Bramasole, so the collection was especially memorable. I like this quote: "What is replenishing? What is depleting? What takes? What gives? What wrings you out and, truly, wh Mayes continues her exploration of Tuscany in this follow up to her first book. A series of essays about the sweet life, food, neighbors, journeys, and house restoration, there seems to be something for everyone here. I've been to many of the towns and places she describes, even staying in Cortona and taking a snap with her Bramasole, so the collection was especially memorable. I like this quote: "What is replenishing? What is depleting? What takes? What gives? What wrings you out and, truly, what rinses you with happiness? What comes from my own labor and creativity, regardless of what anyone else things of it, stays close to the natural joy we all were born with and carry always." I wonder if she's moved to Italy permanently now? I know I would.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    I enjoyed Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany is even better. Mayes writes with humor, grace, and sensitivity. The love she feels for her summer home, Bramasole, all of Tuscany, and her Italian neighbors shines through. You are transported through her wonderful exposition on the beauty of the landscape, the joy of the Italian people, and the cornucopia of fine food that she describes throughout Bella Tuscany right to Cortona. La Dolce Vita!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    Review coming soon!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Glenn Norris

    Love Mayes's books! Makes me want to visit Italy again!! Love Mayes's books! Makes me want to visit Italy again!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Helps me slow down a bit, longing for the simple quiet times she describes, enhanced by food, flowers, friends.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie Kubis

    Beautiful words , adventurous heart I loved every part of this book, and every bit of Frances and Ed's verve for life. The author brings your heart with her to Italy, especially Cortona. They pack so much into one life with joy and enthusiasm. Their lives are full of wonder and happiness. I felt honored to be along for part of the ride. Beautiful words , adventurous heart I loved every part of this book, and every bit of Frances and Ed's verve for life. The author brings your heart with her to Italy, especially Cortona. They pack so much into one life with joy and enthusiasm. Their lives are full of wonder and happiness. I felt honored to be along for part of the ride.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    If you really like Italy and Italian things. Very descriptive but no real story here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Myr

    I heard Under The Tuscan Sun read on XM's BookRadio a few years ago, and enjoyed it, So I was inspired me to pick up this title when I spotted it among the piles of books my mother rescued from her job. I enjoyed the chapters focused on her observations of individual Italians she meets, and her sojourns to various local markets. I appreciated the recipes liberally sprinkled throughout, and found myself buying fennel this week at Trader Joe's, even though I really haven't the foggiest idea what t I heard Under The Tuscan Sun read on XM's BookRadio a few years ago, and enjoyed it, So I was inspired me to pick up this title when I spotted it among the piles of books my mother rescued from her job. I enjoyed the chapters focused on her observations of individual Italians she meets, and her sojourns to various local markets. I appreciated the recipes liberally sprinkled throughout, and found myself buying fennel this week at Trader Joe's, even though I really haven't the foggiest idea what to do with it, and looking more closely at the asparagus at the local market, and wondering if it really could be as delicious roasted as she suggests. This book was a nice escape from the same-old same-old of my daily routine. Three stars only, however, because I also found myself glazing over the parts of the book dedicated to the details of the endless renovations/repairs of her Italian countryhome and the development of its gardens. And I could have done without the chapter she spends ungraciously badmouthing her house guests - it's a bit jarring and out of key with the general mood and atmosphere of the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Unfortunately I didn't like this book nearly as much as I did "Under the Tuscan Sun." I'm not certain how much of that is due to having read that book a long time ago, and how much because I found most of this book to be uninteresting/odd. The beginning and end are interesting. The daughter's wedding was nice, and parts of the middle are alright as well, but most of it read like bad diary entries that you wouldn't normally share with anyone. Things like "and when it was too hot I just sat around Unfortunately I didn't like this book nearly as much as I did "Under the Tuscan Sun." I'm not certain how much of that is due to having read that book a long time ago, and how much because I found most of this book to be uninteresting/odd. The beginning and end are interesting. The daughter's wedding was nice, and parts of the middle are alright as well, but most of it read like bad diary entries that you wouldn't normally share with anyone. Things like "and when it was too hot I just sat around naked with a fan blowing on me" and the rude waiter misunderstanding when she said she didn't like something and grabbing a handful of her hair and pushing a forkful of the food into her startled open mouth. There were more items of cultural difference that made me less interested to spend a long time in Italy. The descriptions of the oppressive mob presence in Sicily was also off putting. I would not read this again, or recommend anyone else read it. I *might* re-read "Under the Tuscan Sun" at some point to see what I think of it now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chad Manske

    Mayes' fantastic follow-up to the immensely popular Under the Tuscan Sun, this volume does not disappoint. Imagine Italy, the sounds, smells, tastes and way of life. Mates invokes the full extent of your imagination with the full richness and simplicity that life in Tuscany has to offer. Your senses are immediately engaged with the taste of Tuscan cooking (including a number of delicious sounding recipes), the richness of good wine, architecture and art like none other in the world, and life as Mayes' fantastic follow-up to the immensely popular Under the Tuscan Sun, this volume does not disappoint. Imagine Italy, the sounds, smells, tastes and way of life. Mates invokes the full extent of your imagination with the full richness and simplicity that life in Tuscany has to offer. Your senses are immediately engaged with the taste of Tuscan cooking (including a number of delicious sounding recipes), the richness of good wine, architecture and art like none other in the world, and life as it was created to be in the beginning. A must read for those who dream of life in the Old World!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Well, I did really like this book, maybe more than 3 stars, but not quite as much as "Under the Tuscan Sun". It's more about her life in Tuscany but kind of episodic, here's when we went hither and yon and what we found/ate there, and then here's how to make some authentic Tuscan food. Which is not as good when you're buying the ingredients from an American grocery store as if you can get them freshly-grown (even Farmer's Market food makes a noticeable difference!). Anyway, I like the recipes, a Well, I did really like this book, maybe more than 3 stars, but not quite as much as "Under the Tuscan Sun". It's more about her life in Tuscany but kind of episodic, here's when we went hither and yon and what we found/ate there, and then here's how to make some authentic Tuscan food. Which is not as good when you're buying the ingredients from an American grocery store as if you can get them freshly-grown (even Farmer's Market food makes a noticeable difference!). Anyway, I like the recipes, and the writing style too, and it's actually a fast read and worthwhile. So recommended :).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    Well written but tiresome about food and plants. It read more like a series of newspaper reports, little articles about what the author did here and there and the many place names and such got a bit boring. Probably my fault because I should have got out a map to read along with the book (why didnt the publishers put in a map?). But I appreciated the poetry in her writing, the images and the background characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    I really thought that I would enjoy this book since I have lived in Italy, I really didn't like the book. Not so much that I didn't like the book asI disliked the style in which it was written. It felt to me more like a series of snippets instead of a smoothly written tale of the author 's experiences. While I can certainly relate to the feel of Italy and Tuscany especially; and we certainly loved the people, I didn't finish this one- I just couldn't get into it. I really thought that I would enjoy this book since I have lived in Italy, I really didn't like the book. Not so much that I didn't like the book asI disliked the style in which it was written. It felt to me more like a series of snippets instead of a smoothly written tale of the author 's experiences. While I can certainly relate to the feel of Italy and Tuscany especially; and we certainly loved the people, I didn't finish this one- I just couldn't get into it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Hughes

    Reading this book was like having a favorite movie and then getting so excited when they make a sequel--and the sequel just doesn't have the magic of the first one. I still love "Under the Tuscan Sun," but "Bella Tuscany" just felt like a travelogue to me. It didn't have the same charm or spark that the first book had. In fact, I didn't even finish it. Reading this book was like having a favorite movie and then getting so excited when they make a sequel--and the sequel just doesn't have the magic of the first one. I still love "Under the Tuscan Sun," but "Bella Tuscany" just felt like a travelogue to me. It didn't have the same charm or spark that the first book had. In fact, I didn't even finish it.

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