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A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure Paperback – September 27, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From its opening scene of an impromptu alfresco village feast of fried zucchini blossoms, fennel-roasted pork, and pudding made from the cream of a local blue-eyed cow, this memoir of the seasons in a small Tuscan village is rich with food, weather, romance and, above all, life. De Blasi continues the adventures begun in her A Thousand Days in Venice, as she and her husband, Fernando, leave Venice for Tuscany in search of "a place that still remembers real life... sweet and salty... each side of life dignifying the other." Fortunately, the two are adopted by Barlozzo, an elderly local eager to share his knowledge of the old ways. He introduces them to the local customs: grape harvesting, truffle hunting, bread baking, etc. Although the book teems with food references, including recipes for intriguing traditional dishes, de Blasi is more than a sunny regional food writer—she digs into the meaning of life. As she fights Fernando's periodic depressions and brings him back to joy, gains Barlozzo's trust and love, learns his troubling lifelong secrets and comes to terms with the death of a beloved friend, she immerses her readers in life's poignancy, brevity and wonder.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Readers who enjoyed de Blasi's earlier work, A Thousand Days in Venice (2002), may be startled that the author has moved from Venice to Tuscany. Still much in love with the man for whom she left everything, de Blasi embarks on an idyllic, if hardworking, Tuscan life. The couple purchases an old farmhouse and is chagrined that it's not conveyed in the condition promised. Their neighbors welcome them to the community with a groaning board featuring all manner of Tuscan foods and capped off with a dessert that only hours earlier had been milked from a "blue-eyed" cow. As in her earlier work, most chapters close with recipes, ranging in complexity from braised pork stew that serves as both a pasta sauce and an entree to simple bruschetta, toasted bread topped with local olive oil. Thanks to de Blasi's style of rendering conversations first in Italian, then English, a careful reader can quickly pick up some useful conversational Italian. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345481097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345481092
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marlena de Blasi has been a chef, a journalist, a food and wine consultant, and a restaurant critic. She is the author of two cookbooks, Regional Foods of Northern Italy (a James Beard Foundation Award finalist) and Regional Foods of Southern Italy. She and her husband, Fernando, now direct gastronomic tours through Tuscany and Umbria.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Italian Dreamer on September 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having lived and worked in Italy during the 60s and early 70s, I found Marlena De Blasi's recounting of her time spent in a very small town in Tuscany more in sync with what actually happens in such a place. It was easy for me to bring forth a picture in my mind and actually feel as if I was there. Mrs. Blasi's characterizations of persons encountered was complete.

I would highly recommend "A Thousand Days in Venice" as an accurate interpretation of what happens in Italy on a daily basis.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Susan Desisto on July 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Do yourself a favor and read de Blasi's "A Thousand Days in Venice" before embarking on the sequel "A Thousand Days in Tuscany". It is not required reading, but you would be missing out on a delightful and unusual love story which sets up this book so perfectly.

Do not mistake this book for a cook book. It is so much more. De Blasi's writing is a feast of sumptuous descriptions of not only food, but life in Tuscany and the joy of knowing she is living her life exactly as she wants to. After reading the book, I was taken aback to find how strongly I wanted to meet this person and be a part of her circle of friends. She is as warm and senuous as the olive oil drizzled on the crusty, roasted, tuscan breads. This book could have been filled with photographs, but they weren't necessary. De Blasi's descriptions will fill your mind's eye with amazing visuals of life in rural Tuscany. I hope when you finish the book(s) you will feel, like I do, that your heart and soul have been amptly nourished .... and your taste-buds truly inspired!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sammy Madison on June 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you can, read Marlena De Blasi's earlier book "A Thousand Days in Venice" before reading this one. I was glad I knew about De Blasi's life in the U.S. and Venice, and how she met and married her "Stranger" as she calls her Venetian husband Fernando. Fernando has a tendency to melancholy and melodrama. He feels trapped by his past of unhappiness and his stifling job in a bank. Marlena is horrified when he comes home and announces that he has quit his secure, life-long job. She's a city girl, in love with Venice, and he has decided to move to a rural Tuscan village. But Marlena is also adaptable and adventurous, and makes the most of the beautiful Tuscan countryside, amazing food experiences (she is a former chef and food writer), and people who embrace her and make her feel welcome. I expected a book like "Under the Tuscan Sun", where the writer has buckets of money and views the locals as humorous bumpkins and overpriced servants, but De Blasi becomes close to the natives of her new home and learns about the privations of their past and the sorrows of their present (the subtitle of the book is "A Bittersweet Adventure"). She falls in love with the "Duke", who was born in the building her new apartment is in and who remembers the hunger of the war years. He takes the younger couple under his wing and teaches them the lessons that go with the food De Blasi loves: during the hungry periods, chestnuts were all the Tuscans had to eat. They ground the shells for coffee, and made a paste of the nutmeats and water, and baked it into cakes. There was no olive oil, honey, or cream to make it sumptuous. Soldiers returning to their home were not feted by their families with the roasting of the fatted calf, but with starvation. They ate the grass.Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Nicholson on March 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
A small gem!

Every once in a while a book comes along that really moves me with its quiet beauty; "A Thousand Days in Tuscany" fits easily into this category.

Wonderfully written and easy to read with its soft descriptive prose; the words transport you from your comfortable sofa to a magnificent area of Italy that is renowned for its people and its unique landscape.

The book follows two new arrivals to the Tuscan region of Italy and tells of their interactions with the local residents; people who soon become part of their daily routine. Each chapter is a small vignette describing a situation (usually with a local personage), a trip and, above all, food; in fact all chapters get around to the discussion of, or preparation of food. Most chapters end with a recipe for the main dish that was describe in the chapter involved.

All in all, a warm, quiet and beautifully descriptive short book about an area of the world that all of us would probably love to visit at least once in our lifetime. Highly recommended.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S. Warfield on May 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
By the time I was halfway through A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi, I wanted to get up at six each morning and bake the day's bread with rosemary and olive oil. I wanted to walk up a hill and go to breakfast at a local bar and chat with the duke, a local man who took Marlena and her husband under his wing and showed them what life in the Tuscan village where they settled for a thousand days was really like.

Reading this book was a wonderful experience for me as I followed this couple through their days of integrating into the life, lives and especially the foods, wines and cooking of this area of Italy. Harvesting grapes for wine, picking olives and chestnuts are all part of a way of life that hasn't changed for centuries in this part of the world, and de Blasi does an excellent job of taking us in our armchairs into that world. The natural romance of the area just adds to the romantic relationship that de Blasi and her husband have, and as the reader I experienced every lovely minute of their time in Tuscany.

The only thing I would have liked in addition to de Blasi's lyrical writing was a collection of photos from her time there, but maybe the imagination does a better job.
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