Frances Mayes is out with a new book entitled Every Day in Tuscany. Mayes is the author of several books about life in Italy, and she is one of my favorite authors. I’m about half way through this latest memoir, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed.
Her writing style is such that she draws you into the story, the experiences, and its as if you get to meet the people, share the food, drink the wine, see the sights right along with her. I love it.
I was talking to my mom last night about the book, and she hadn’t heard it was out yet, but I think she’ll head out today and get her copy. Several years ago, my family took at trip to Italy, and stayed in Cortona for a few days. It is a beautiful little hilltown, and we wanted to see for ourselves what drew Mayes and her husband Ed to settle in this place that seems to date from forever. We weren’t disappointed as we ate in the little tratorria she loves, bought perfectly ripe peaches from the frutta e verdura shop the size of a postage stamp that she buys her produce from. We visited the museum where Fra Angelico’s magnificent painting of the Annunciation hangs, bought plates and cups in the traditional pattern of Cortona. At Christmas, I bring out my copy of the Annunciation and hang it on the wall in my living room. When I’m depressed about something, or want to celebrate a special occasion, I eat off those plates. For a moment, I’m back in Cortona, enjoying the sweet life…
Mayes draws you in to her experiences, and she leaves her readers longing for a little taste of la dolce vita. As we were leaving Cortona, my mom asked the cab driver if he knew were Bramasole, the abandoned house Mayes and her husband had restored. “Si, si,” he replied, and off we went into the hills. Bramasole, which means to “yearn for the sun” in Italian, is not the grandest house, but I would take it in a heartbeat. My mom noticed the windows were open. “Are they home” she wondered? We stood outside their gates, laughing, taking pictures, dreaming about what it would be like to live in this place. I love the picture we have of my mom, with a big smile, standing at the gates of Bramasole.
In this latest book, Mayes writes that, even though the people at the gate don’t realize it, she and her husband do hear the laughing, the conversations, good and bad. As I read this, I kicked myself that we didn’t yell up that day. My mom would have loved to have been invited in to look around. She may have decided to stay another day…
In my mind, there are few places in the world that get me dreaming as does Tuscany. I’ve lead several tour groups there over the years, and after the last one, with the weak dollar and sky-high prices, I said that was it, no more tours!
That lasted about two years, and as I write this, I’m beginning to plan a fifteen day trip all over Italy for the summer of 2011. I’m ready.