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...

Italy Today: The Beautiful Cookbook

By Lorenza de' Medici

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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.

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Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades, and Apulia

By Patience Gray

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"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."

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Flavors of Tuscany: Traditional Recipes from the Tuscan Countryside

By Nancy Harmon Jenkins

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"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."

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The Miracles of Santo Fico

By D. L. Smith

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"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... ."

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Tuscany: Inside the Light

By Joel Meyerowitz

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

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Summer in Tuscany

By Elizabeth Adler

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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.

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Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life

By Frances Mayes

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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.

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The Mermaid Garden

By Santa Montefiore

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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.

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And Then You Die: An Aurelio Zen mystery

By Michael Dibdin

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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.

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A Small Place in Italy

By Eric Newby

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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.

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