Under the Tuscan Sun

Beth Elon

When it's time for the foodie to plan his Tuscan trip:

"Each of the ten itineraries in this cookbook/guidebook takes readers through parts of Tuscany that still remain largely undiscovered and into the kitchens of more than fifty superb but little-known restaurants specializing in regional cuisine-those that are for the most part overlooked by tourists and known only to the locals. Each regional section begins with illuminating and absorbing explanations of what makes Tuscan cooking so unique: location, location, location. You'll read about a bean so beloved by a village that it's been elevated to cult status-but unknown a few kilometers down the road; an aboriginal baby lamb that is almost unknown outside of the Zeri valley; the endless array of vegetable tarts found nowhere in Tuscany but Lunigiana and Garfagnana.

"With this guide in hand, you'll not only know where to dine but what to order when you get there. In addition to 100 recipes, also included are nearby points of interest, descriptions and contact information for restaurants,trattorie, gourmet shops, wineries, olive oil producers, local markets, and regional food festivals, and how to find the monasteries, workshops, and artisans' studios that offer local items ranging from herbal beauty products to traditional ceramics and handwoven linens."

Eric Newby

Another couple restoring an old house in Italy. As Eric Newby and his wife, Wanda, restore a run-down Tuscan farmhouse, his account builds into a vivid portrait of rural Italy and its people, lovingly evoking the rhythms and rituals of country life.

Marlena de Blasi

American chef Marlena de Blasi and her Venetian husband, Fernando, married rather late in life. In search of the rhythms of country living, the couple moves to a barely renovated former stable in Tuscany with no phone, no central heating, and something resembling a playhouse kitchen. They dwell among two hundred villagers, ancient olive groves, and hot Etruscan springs. In this patch of earth where Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio collide, there is much to feed de Blasi's two passions--food and love.

Michael Dibdin

Okay, maybe not how we want to spend our vacation, but it's still entertaining. Aurelio Zen of Rome's elite Criminalpol is back, but nobody's supposed to know it. Following a bomb attack on his car, Zen tries to relax at a beach resort on the Tuscan coast, waiting to testify in an anti-Mafia trial. Soon he must rely on his survival skills as people start dropping dead.

Frances Mayes

Frances Mayes offers her readers a deeply personal memoir of her present-day life in Tuscany, encompassing both the changes she has experienced since Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany appeared, and sensuous, evocative reflections on the timeless beauty and vivid pleasures of Italian life. Among the themes Mayes explores are how her experience of Tuscany dramatically expanded when she renovated and became a part-time resident of a 13th-century house with a stone roof in the mountains above Cortona, how life in the mountains introduced her to a "wilder" side of Tuscany--and with it a lively engagement with Tuscany's mountain people. Throughout, she reveals the concrete joys of life in her adopted hill town, with particular attention to life in the piazza, the art of Luca Signorelli (Renaissance painter from Cortona), and the pastoral pleasures of feasting from her garden.

Chris Catling
"...features suggested walks and four one-day 'Great Day' itineraries to ensure you make the most of your trip. It comes together with clear maps, extensive hotel and restaurant listings of all price levels. From the bustling streets of Florence to the picturesque hilltop towns of Tuscany explore this beautiful region with the unique 3D models and cutaway maps. Recommendations for authentic trattorias where you can sample the local fare will ensure you have a heavenly holiday."
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

"For the last twenty-five years, Nancy Harmon Jenkins has spent a good part of her time with her family in the hills of eastern Tuscany in an antique stone-walled farmhouse surrounded by fields, vineyards, and forests of oak and chestnut. Working through the seasons, gardening, marketing, cooking, and sharing food and its lore with Tuscan friends and neighbors, she has developed a deep attachment to the cuisine of the Tuscan countryside, to which she brings a unique perspective as one of this country's foremost food writers.

"Often imitated but seldom clearly understood outside Italy, Tuscan country cooking is hearty and appealing in its simplicity and its straightforward insistence on fresh, authentic, unadulterated flavors--fragrant, homey herbs like parsley, sage, and rosemary; the lush, peppery aromas of newly pressed extra virgin olive oil; the appetizing redolence of farm-raised chickens braising in a wood-fired oven; or spitted pork loin, basted with garlic and wine, roasting on the hearth. Drawing on her extensive firsthand experience, Jenkins has re-created for American cooks and the American table the rustic, robust way of cooking and eating that is the heart of Tuscan life, the flavors of Tuscany."

Bill Buford

"Writer Buford's memoir of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook. Expanding on his award-winning New Yorker article, Buford gives us a chronicle of his experience as 'slave' to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali's three-star New York restaurant, Babbo. He describes three frenetic years of trials and errors, disappointments and triumphs, as he worked his way up the Babbo ladder from "kitchen bitch" to line cook, his relationship with the larger-than-life Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters, and his immersion in the arts of butchery in Northern Italy, of preparing game in London, and making handmade pasta at an Italian hillside trattoria."

Patience Gray

"Honey from a Weed is a Mediterranean odyssey. Patience Gray, who has lived and traveled widely in the region's countryside for over twenty-five years, brings to life its people, their culture, and most of all their rustic cooking, with sumptuous prose and reverence."

Lorenza de' Medici

None of these books leaves out mention of delicious Italian wines and foods. We'll need some snacks on our trip so why not try "crostoni of pecorino cheese and fava beans on grilled bread, or ravioli filled with squash flowers followed by grilled scampi with lemon sauce. Taste updated classics such as stracciatella alla maggiorana, Roman egg soup with fresh marjoram; or pollo arrosto al balsamico - roasted chicken sparked with balsamic vinegar. Or relax with a slice or orange cake and a glass of Vin Santo." You'll have to move to the kitchen table to enjoy this oversized book, part travel book and all yum.

Patrizia Chen

Featuring 25 authentic Tuscan recipes, this cookbook/memoir is by an Italian home chef who tells the story of her childhood in post-World War II Tuscany and of the beloved family cook who taught her every kitchen secret.

Elizabeth Adler

Gemma Jericho is an overworked New York doctor with a handful of a teenaged daughter and a mother who worries that Gemma has no life. So when her mother receives a mysterious letter telling her about an even more mysterious inheritance in Tuscany, Gemma sees her chance: the three of them throw caution and convention to the wind and leave for Italy. Gemma hopes that a change of scenery will bring back the closeness she used to share with her daughter. And perhaps the challenges of living in a foreign country will give her mother something to worry about beyond Gemma's social life. But what they encounter there is far more distracting than Gemma expected: a crumbling old villa and a town divided. Half the residents believe that Ben Raphael, another American, is the rightful inheritor of the villa. As cultures clash, gossip soars, and intrigue unfolds, Gemma is caught up in the most disturbing and delicious trouble she's ever had.

John Gielgud, Susan Fleetwood, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Annette Crosbie, Gabrielle Anwar

Molly Pargeter (Susan Fleetwood) has found the perfect Tuscan villa for her frazzled family's holiday. There's sightseeing to do, local color to enjoy, and the enigma of an art-loving absentee landlord to explore. Meanwhile, her outrageously extroverted and libidinous father Haverford Downs (John Gielgud in an Emmy-winning performance) has his sights set on a certain rich widow.

Richard Paul Evans

"When Eliana, still called Ellen by her close friends back in America, moved to Italy the future was bright with promise. Tuscany held magic in its sprawling vineyards, great food, and centuries of art. It was a life of the senses, perfect for a blossoming, talented young artist such as Eliana. Her family and friends back home all thought she had made the right choice in following her heart, and the man she fell in love with and married, back to his native country. In America, Eliana's story was that of a fairy tale. But in Italy, in the small, rustic village nestled in the Chianti countryside, Eliana found her husband to be a very different man."

Santa Montefiore

Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the beauty of the magnificent Tuscan villa that overlooks the sea just outside her small village. She likes to spy from the crumbling wall into the gardens and imagine that one day she'll escape her meager existence and live there surrounded by its otherworldly splendor. Then one day Dante, the son of the villa's powerful industrialist owner, invites her inside and shows her the enchanting Mermaid Garden. From that moment, Floriana knows that the only destiny for her is there, in that garden, with Dante. But as they grow up and fall in love, their romance causes a crisis, jeopardizing the very thing they hold most dear.

D. L. Smith

"A magical story of love...and miracles After twenty years, Leo Pizzola has come back to the Tuscan village of Santo Fico, still single and still looking for a way to get rich. The town is as poor as it was when Leo left, yet some things have changed. Of Leo's childhood companions, only little Guido, whom everyone calls "Topo," embraces him. His best friend is long dead. The woman he once adored refuses to talk to him. And, worst of all, the kindly old town priest seems to have lost his faith. Perhaps what Santo Fico needs is a miracle-even if Leo and Topo have to manufacture one themselves. Now, as one botched scheme after another unravels, something completely unexpected happens, and wonders indeed begin to transform this Italian town, including the greatest miracle of all... ."

Robert Hellenga

What a compelling title. I happened to pick this up casually and then noticed it was a book about a young librarian. A young librarian in Italy who has adventures? Could it be? Most definitely so for the "mud angel" Margot Harrington who leaves her drab existence in the Chicago area to volunteer in Florence following devasting flooding in 1966. Along the way she undertakes the clandestine sale of a rare volume of erotica to save a convent while involved in her own clandestine love affair.

Ferenc Máté

"This sun-drenched land has become synonymous with the ideal life. But it didn t happen by chance. Since the Etruscans, the independence-loving Tuscans have treated their breathtaking countryside with sagacious respect and built hamlets and hill towns in which they perfected a culture of simplicity, beauty, neighborliness, good food, and love of daily life. Ferenc M t has lived in Tuscany for twenty years. Through personal experience and anecdotal history he explores the sources of this idyllic existence, which provides continuous economic stability, physical and emotional security, and a fortifying sense of belonging. From their organic gardens to their mouthwatering cuisine, from high-quality, craftsmen-made products and family-run businesses, to the joys centered in human contact and community, Tuscans live a healthy, all-senses-satisfying, emotionally rich life."

Sonja Bullaty and Angelo Lomeo

When their previous book, Provence, was published, reviewers marveled that the photographs looked like paintings. Equally memorable are the splendid photographs in Tuscany, which exquisitely capture the light, colors, and textures of Italy's most romantic and inspiring region.

Joel Meyerowitz

This evocative collection of images and commentary takes readers on a breathtaking journey through the four seasons in Tuscany. with one gatefold.

Frances Mayes

In Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes brings a poet's voice, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer together to create an enchanting and lyrical book about the life, the traditions, and the cuisine of Tuscany. This is definitely an example of the book far exceeding the film version; indeed, the film only bears resemblance to the book by its title.