Under the Tuscan Sun

It's grape harvesting time in parts of Italy -- then chestnuts in October followed by olive harvests in late November. I'd like to watch such a harvest; however, I'll have to do so vicariously from the comfort of my home and favorite chair for reading. I'm thinking about this not because I want to be a farmer, but because one of my favorite books has been made into a movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. That book and another, The Sixteen Pleasures, caused me to begin a love affair, as is only fitting toward objects Italian, with the notion of travel. Let's invite ourselves to a trip -- our comfy chairs are waiting...

Eyewitness Travel Guide to Florence & Tuscany

By Chris Catling

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"...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."
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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany

By Bill Buford

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"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."

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A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring & Eating off the Beaten Track

By Beth Elon

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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."

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The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security & the Good Life--Making the Tuscan Lifestyle Your Own

By Ferenc Máté

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"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."

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Summer's Lease

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

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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.

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Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy

By Frances Mayes

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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.

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Tuscany

By Sonja Bullaty and Angelo Lomeo

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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.

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The Sixteen Pleasures

By Robert Hellenga

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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.

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The Last Promise

By Richard Paul Evans

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"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."

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Rosemary and Bitter Oranges: Growing Up in a Tuscan Kitchen

By Patrizia Chen

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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.

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