By Frances Mayes
(Broadway Books, Hardcover, 9780767905350, 272pp.)
Publication Date: October 31, 2000
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From the bestselling author whose memoirs Under the Sun and Bella Tuscany have captured the voluptuousness of Italian life comes a lavishly illustrated ode to the joys of Tuscany's people, food, landscapes, and art. In Tuscany celebrates the abundant pleasures of life in Italy as it is lived at home, at festivals, feasts, restaurants and markets, in the kitchen and on the piazza, in the vineyards, fields, and olive groves. Combining all-new essays by Frances Mayes and a chapter by her husband, poet Edward Mayes, with more than 200 full-color photos by photographer Bob Krist, each of this book's five sections highlights a signature aspect of Tuscan life:
La Piazza--the locus of Italian village life. With photgraphs of the shop signs, the outdoor markets, medieval streets, people, their pets and their cars, and snippets of conversations overheard, Mayes reveals the life of the Piazza in her town of Cortona as well as out-of-the-way places such as Volterra, Asciano, Monte San Savino, and Castelmuzio.
La Festa--the celebration. Essays and photos of feasts and celebrations, such as the Christmas dinner for twenty-seven at a neighbor's house and a donkey race around the church at Montepulciano Stazione, illustrate how the Tuscans celebrate the seasons--their open ways of friendship, their connection to nature, and most of all, their sense of abundance.
Il Campo--the field. Here Edward Mayes evokes the deep sense of the shift of seasons as he picks olives before he and Frances head off to the olive oil mill and enjoy the first bruscette with new oil.
La Cucina--the kitchen. An intimate view of the all-important role of the kitchen in Tuscan culture, including photographs of her own kitchen and gardens, menus from great local cooks, the elements of the Tuscan table, dishes with cultural and culinary notes on each, and, of course, delectable recipes.
La Bellezza--the beauty. From the quality of the light falling on sublime landscapes in different seasons and Tuscan faces in moments of laughter to a silhouette of cypress trees in the early evening and a wild bird perched on a neigbor's head, In Tuscany features views of beauty that reveal the singular splendor of one of the world's best-loved and most artistic regions.
Frances Mayes is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscanny, as well as five books of poetry. Edward Mayes is the author of Works and Days and five other books of poetry. He is director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Clara University. They live in San Francisco and Cortona, Italy.
Bob Krist is the author of Spirit of Place: The Art of the Traveling Photographer. His international photography has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Islands, and many other publications. A contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and Popular Photography, he lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
"Tuscany may have found its own bard in Frances Mayes."
--New York Times
"Irresistable...A senuous book for a sensuous countryside."
"An intense celebration of what she 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
"A love letter to Italy written in precise and passionate language of near-poetic density... Maye's sequel offers something different, even richer and more complex, than her first account of life in Tuscany... This is a book to treasure, as the author so clearly treasures the life she engraves on our hearts."
"Frances Mayes is, before all else, a wonderful writer... She never loses sight of the fact that millenniums-old Tuscany, with its immemorial customs and folksways, is not to be domesticated or made familiar. Her Italy remains intransigently foreign, exotic, a continuing revelation of strangeness and unexpected beauties."