Buying a villa in the spectacular Italian countryside is a wonderful fantasy -- even if 17 rooms and a garden in need of immediate loving care are included in the asking price. Frances Mayes -- gourmet cook, widely published travel writer, and poet -- changed her life by doing just that. Sprinkled liberally with delicious recipes for inspired Italian dishes, amusing anecdotes about the risks of being your own contractor, and a savvy traveler's reminiscences, Under the Tuscan Sun is Mayes's enchanting account of her love affair with Tuscany: of scouring the neighborhood for the perfect panettone and the perfect plumber; of mornings spent cultivating her garden, and afternoons spent enjoying its fruits in leisurely lunches on the terrace; of jaunts through the hill towns in search of renowned wines; and the renewal not only of a house, but also of the spirit. An unusual memoir that combines the appeal of M. F.K. Fisher, Peter Mayle, and Martha Stewart, Under the Tuscan Sun is a feast for the senses.
In this memoir of her buying, renovating, and living in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, Frances Mayes reveals the sensual pleasure she found living in rural Italy, and the generous spirit she brought with her. She revels in the sunlight and the color, the long view of her valley, the warm homey architecture, the languor of the slow paced days, the vigor of working her garden, and the intimacy of her dealings with the locals. Cooking, gardening, tiling and painting are never chores, but skills to be learned, arts to be practiced, and above all to be enjoyed. At the same time Mayes brings a literary and intellectual mind to bear on the experience, adding depth to this account of her enticing rural idyll.