Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes

Have you ever wanted to simply drop everything and move to Tuscany? Well I have, many times! Reading Under the Tuscan Sun brought all those feelings back to me.

This book is a mixture of memoir, travel guide, recipe book and there’s also a good deal about house renovation, all told with the beautiful backdrop of Bramasole, the impressive house Mayes and her partner have taken on.

It was so easy to slip into the relaxed pace of this book and it’s exactly what I needed  a few months ago, during a particularly busy spell at work.

Following Frances Mayes’ adventures in house renovating, home cooking and language learning took me back to my own experiences in Italy. Her walks through the local village are so beautifully recorded that I can clearly imagine the medieval buildings. I can almost smell and taste the ripe fruit in the grocery shop. And, oh! How it makes me want to go back!

Italy is a very special place, and Mayes understands this. She, like me, has embraced all the quirks of Italian life and gone with the flow. It can be a most infuriating country, as Mayes and her partner discovered on a few occasions. My favourite example was during the August festival of Ferragosto. All work on their house came to a sudden standstill for two weeks while the whole of Italy shut up shop and went to the seaside. But it’s rich history and culture, friendly people and the beauty of the country make it all worth while.

One of the first memoirs of its kind, Under the Tuscan Sun still feels quite fresh. Unlike some other travel memoirs I’ve read (I’m looking at you Eat, Pray, Love!), it doesn’t come across as self indulgent, even though Mayes does spend a lot of time in contemplation. On finishing the book, I felt as though I had actually learnt something. I would recommend this book to everyone who loves Italy, especially if you feel like you need an escape from everyday life!

Read about other books set in Italy!

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