Work's still not completely finished on Bramasole, the Tuscan house that California-based poet and bestselling author Frances Mayes bought a decade ago and has been fixing up every summer since. Nevertheless, in Bella Tuscany
, she goes out--in search of Italy and Italian life. The sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun
is awash with sensual discovery, from Sicilian markets with "rainbows of shining fish on ice" to the aqueous dream of Venice "shimmering in the diluted sunlight." Wherever she is, Mayes celebrates everyday rituals, such as picking wild asparagus, "dark spears poking out of the dirt ... stalks as thin as yarn" and driving through country rains, as "the green landscape smears across the windshield" for buffalo mozzarella and demijohns of sfuso
--bulk wine kept fresh with a slick of olive oil on top. Mayes also ventures into the world of the locals, some "bent as a comma" and others throwing six-hour communion feasts where half a dozen cooks in a barn continually send out heaping platters of pasta with wild boar sauce, roasted lamb, and even the thigh of a giant cow--wrapping up the festivities with honeyed vin santo, grappa, and dancing to the accordion. Capturing the details that enrich the commonplace, in Bella Tuscany
Mayes appears less like a visitor and more like someone discovering in Tuscany a real home and a real life. --Melissa Rossi
From Library Journal
Writing again about Tuscany, Mayes continues to acquaint readers with the delights of Italy. This book follows Under the Tuscan Sun (LJ 9/1/96), Mayess popular account of falling in love with Tuscany and purchasing an old villa for her summer vacations. Now Mayes, on sabbatical from her teaching position in San Francisco, is experiencing Italy in the early spring with her friend and soon-to-be-spouse, Ed. Together they continue work on their house, selecting plants for the garden, pots for the piazza, and tiles for the bathroom. In between projects, they find time to explore regions beyond Tuscany, including Sicily and Venice. Mayes writes with a poets attention to sensuous detail, whether describing a six-course meal (she provides recipes), a fresco in a little-known church, or the challenges of learning Italian. She describes village life with all its warmth, friendliness, and individuality, in sharp contrast to the growing impersonality and homogeneity of America. Recommended for all public libraries.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.