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Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy Paperback – April 4, 2000


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Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy + Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy + In Tuscany
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076790284X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902847
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Following up on her bestselling novel, Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes returns to her beloved villa in the small hill town of Cortona, Italy. Welcomed back like an old friend, she is soon puttering in the garden, and as Mayes devotees might expect, busy in the kitchen as well. As Mayes rediscovers her taste for la dolce vita, she embarks on a journey of cultural awakening and embraces a newfound romance with the Italian language and people. "I came to Italy expecting adventure," reads Mayes. "What I never anticipated is the absolute sweet joy of everyday life."

Mayes is as generous a cook as she is a writer, flavoring her story with tasty descriptions of local gustatory delights--many of which are included in a small recipe book. She also serves as narrator, and the beguiling simplicity of her voice makes listening as enjoyable as spending an afternoon with a well-traveled favorite aunt. (Running time: 9 hours, 6 cassettes) --George Laney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

After the best-selling Under a Tuscan Sun.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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More About the Author

Frances Mayes has always adored houses, and when she saw Bramasole, a neglected, 200-year old Tuscan farmhouse nestled in five overgrown acres, it was love at first sight. Out of that instant infatuation have come four marvelous, and hugely popular, books: the bestsellers Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany, In Tuscany, a collaborative photo-textbook with her husband, the poet Edward Mayes, and photographer Bob Krist, and Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style From the Heart of Italy, another collaborative book with Edward Mayes and photographer Steven Rothfeld. All four highly personal books are about taking chances, living in Italy, loving and renovating an old Italian villa, the pleasures of food, wine, gardens, and the "voluptuousness of Italian life." The third book in her Tuscan trilogy, Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life (due out in spring 2010), is about Tuscan seasons and Mayes' reflections on her Italian life. She was awarded the Premio Casato Prime Donne for a major contribution in the field of letters in 2009.

Her first novel, Swan, a family saga and mystery, returns Mayes to her childhood home of Georgia and was published in 2002. A film version of Under the Tuscan Sun, starring Diane Lane, was released in fall of 2003. Frances Mayes was the editor for the 2002 Best American Travel Writing. She is also the author of the travel memoir entitled A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller, which immediately debuted as a New York Times bestseller in 2006. Working again with Steven Rothfeld, she published Shrines: Images of Italian Worship, also in 2006.

A widely published poet and essayist, Frances Mayes has written numerous books of poetry, including Sunday in Another Country, After Such Pleasures, The Arts of Fire, Hours, The Book of Summer, and Ex Voto. Her work The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems is widely used in college poetry classes. Formerly a professor of creative writing at San Francisco State University, where she directed The Poetry Center and chaired the Department of Creative Writing, Mayes now devotes herself full time to writing, restoring an historic garden and to her "At Home in Tuscany" furniture line at Drexel Heritage. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Cortona, Italy.

Biographical note from Steven Barclay Agency

"Tuscany may have found its own bard in Frances Mayes."
-- The New York Times

Customer Reviews

I have read only 92 pages of this book and I'm not sure if I can finish it.
Von Wald
I am in love with anything Frances Mayes writes and this is a follow up of Under The Tuscan Sun by this beloved American author who lives bi-continent!
Carolyn Mc.
She shares very little about herself and her feelings and the book is left with being a very well written still life.
Superstar Reviewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
OK--Many of the customers who wrote previous reviews about Bella Tuscany have some valid complaints. It is several chapters too long and we do get tired of Mayes' whining. We have little pity for her trying to restore two houses at once and we don't need to hear about every meal and shopping excursion. It certainly does not surpass her first effort, "Under the Tuscan Sun." Still, as someone who has never been to Tuscany (or Italy for that matter), many of the descriptions in "Bella Tuscany" are little treasures. Who wouldn't want to live where you can go to one local farm for ricotta, another for pecorino romano and a third for wine? Or where Roman and Etruscan ruins are to be found in so many unsuspecting places? Or where fabulous meals can be made with only the simple ingredients you grow in your garden? Or where every small local church has a major work or art or two? I do have two recommendations that would have made this book more enjoyable; a map of Tuscany and Italy would have been helpful in identifying the many places Mayes visited. Also, I would have enjoyed more photographs other than those on the dust jacket. Maybe the few "teaser" pictures are to whet our appetite for her 3rd book, "In Tuscany." In any case, while this book has some character flaws, I think potential readers need to try to overlook these and to dig deeper for the jewel within.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I adored Under the Tuscan Sun and couldn't wait to read Bella Tuscany. But like so many others who have reviewed the book here, I had trouble finishing it. It simply did not have the beauty or the charm of the first book. In addition, the constant sniping really got on my nerves. In my opinion, if you are lucky enough to have a villa in Tuscany and to live "the sweet life," you shouldn't be complaining about the mafia in Sicily or your never-ending parade of rude houseguests. Mayes should have included fewer gripes and more recipes. But worst of all were the unbelievable number of typographical errors in the book. Is it possible that a university professor can be such a poor speller and that her editors could fail to correct so many mistakes? The errors drove me absolutely to distraction and sent the message that Mayes was rushing her second book into print before it was ready, just to capitalize on the success of her first book. I would say that parts of the book were pleasant to read, but all in all I would have been just as happy not picking up the book at all.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really can't understand why so many reviewers have complained about this sweet little book. Although I'm French, not Italian, I have traveled all over Italy and I found Bella Tuscany to be a sweet and interesting book that provides a few evenings of lighthearted and entertaining reading. In Bella Tuscany, Mayes travels to regions outside Tuscany, such as Sicily and Venice, as well as to the many castle towns, fishing villages and islands. Many reviewers have complained about the chapter on recipes, but I found them quite interesting and delicious! Although I don't think Mayes captures the essence of Tuscany with quite the wit and verve of Peter Mayle, writing about Provence, Bella Tuscany is still a sweet and lighthearted look at one of the world's most beautiful regions.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
Another disappointment. This dribble has little to do with Italy and no plot. This best part of the book is the picture of the house. The chapter on Sicily appears to be plagerized from On Persephone's Island by Mary Taylor Simeti who has lived in Sicily for years, speaks the language and in contrast to Ms. Mayes really knows the people (published 1986). it is disgusting to see a writer mention her sadness about prostitution in Italy and then move on to discuss hiring full time garderners and choosing between tile or marble for the bathrooms. Also, it is suprising for a woman who claims to love teaching to portray the students she has as "uh like idiots".
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Susan on October 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is so obnoxious it surely deserves recognition! Aside from the author being self-obsessed, I found her completely without any sense of the real world. Does one really "endure" the flight to and from Italy several times a year to live in their summer house?
I also found the constant mention of the costs involved with renovating two massive houses in some of the world's most expensive real estate markets quite despicable.
Also, it was in poor taste to allow people to stay at your hallowed house and then write horrible things about them in a published book. As a Southerner, I am quite embarrassed for her manners.
I would suspect that if another novel comes from this series (the first was much more palatable), it is only because she wants to add a guesthouse.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Deborah E. Colter on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved Under The Tuscan Sun which focused on Tuscany, its people, places and food. This book is about Sicily, where the author was either cold, rained on, put in crummy rooms or deeply frightened by the mafia, which she seems to believe are everywhere, and Venice, where we learn about her bird phobia, and San Francisco, where she buys another house to renovate and gives the ultimate bird to her former husband by (if you believe it) not recognizing him at her daughter's wedding. It is also about Ed, who I refuse to believe exists. But most of all it's about shopping. Fran buys everything she sees, smells, or heard rumors of, and will doubtless be named the patron saint of shopkeepers in Tuscany and Umbria. This is a boring and self-absorbed effort that her editor should have stopped cold.
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