Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a memoir that delightfully gives an account of her experiences in buying, restoring, and living in a Tuscan villa. Originally published in 1996, my paperback copy is 280 pages. Don't read this book when hungry because Mayes enthusiastically discusses meals and even includes many recipes in two different chapters of the book. She mainly lives at her villa during the summer but also over her Christmas break from teaching college classes. This is a nice book to read in the winter. I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Rating: 4.
From the book synopsis:
"Frances Mayes... opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In sensuous and evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. An accomplished cook and food writer, Mayes also creates dozens of delicious seasonal recipes from her traditional kitchen and simple garden, all of which she includes in the book.... Mayes writes about the tastes and pleasure of a foreign country with gusto and passion. A celebration of the extraordinary quality of life in Tuscany, Under the Tuscan Sun is a feast for all the senses."
"As foreigners who have landed here by grace, we'll try anything. Much of the restoration work we did ourselves; an accomplishment. as my grandfather would say, out of the fullness of our ignorance." pg. 2
"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." pg. 2
"You have to churn somewhat when the roof covering your head is at stake, since to sell is to walk away from a cluster of memories and to buy is to choose where the future will take place. And the place, never neutral of course, will cast its influence." pg. 7
"The elaborate underground system makes us understand precisely how precious water is in the country. When it flows, you figure out how to save it; when it is plentiful, as now, you must respect it." pg. 50
"I think I woulkd like cutting herbs even if I weren't cooking. The pungency of just-snipped herbs adds as much to the cook's enjoyment as to taste." pg 117