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Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions Of A Chianti Tour Guide Paperback – September 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1863255079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1863255073
  • ASIN: 0762736704
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Unlike Under the Tuscan Sun and the flood of cookbooks touting the delights of the Tuscan table, this endearing, lightweight memoir was written by a native of the area. The author recounts the history and character of Chianti—the famous wine region at Tuscany's geographic and cultural heart—and shares his most unforgettable experiences working as a Chianti tour guide for more than 12 years. Raised in Britain, Castagno began exploring Chianti's countryside as a teenager and fell in love with its dilapidated farmhouses, abandoned in Italy's post-WWII period of industrialization; for him, their stone walls, terracotta roofs and chestnut beams formed "well nigh irresistible" windows into Tuscany's romantic past. As a guide, he shared these journeys with his clients, most of them Americans, including T.T., an overly curious businessman for whom a winery visit "was like taking a child to a chocolate factory"; and an Alabama couple who, sweetly, tried to set Castagno up with their daughter. The farmhouses were also the site of Castagno's startling encounter with a couple of teenage artists and subsequent discovery about Tonio, a local, 94-year-old love machine. Castagno delivers his life story in simple, honest, heartfelt terms, though, unfortunately for readers, there are few true surprises or insights. It's brain candy to be enjoyed with a bottle of red.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

Recent years have seen a virtual flood of books about Tuscany—first-person accounts about Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping up against a centuries-old stone wall of tradition. It’s only fair that we now hear a native Tuscan’s side of the story. Who better to provide that view than Dario Castagno, a British-born, Tuscan-raised tour guide who has spent more than a decade leading Americans into the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti region. In this lively, candid memoir, Dario looks at the Americans who have stormed through his life and his homeland. Some tested his sanity, others became lifelong friends.

With wry humor and affection, Dario recalls some of his more remarkable clients—the delightful, the vain, the silly, the ignorant, the ambitious, the amorous, the condescending, the lovely, and the outright crazy. He also shares an account of his own life and times—his transformation from bohemian layabout to thriving tour guide—and offers an enchanting introduction to the charms of Tuscany over the course of a year.

Through his company, Chianti Rooster Tours, Dario Castagno guides small groups of visitors to his favorite spots in the Chianti region of Italy. He belongs to Siena’s Caterpillar contrada, which in 2003 won the Palio—the wildly popular bareback horse race that takes place in Siena each summer.

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Customer Reviews

The book isn't even funny!
M. Inglehart
I recently read Mr. Castagno's other two books "A Day in Tuscany," and "Too Much Tuscan Wine," and was immersed even deeper.
RyanTC
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has visited or plans to visit Tuscany.
R. Rufatto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By E. Craig on February 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Look, the fact is that the majority of Americans, when they think about Tuscany, see it as a prestigious place filled with great food, views, and shopping - and a place which they can use to impress friends and relatives with stories of being in Tuscany. Now, I will freely admit: Tuscany does have great food and views. And shopping if you're into that. But when Dario says "Too much Tuscan Sun", he's saying "too much hype, let me show you the real Tuscany."

I travel to Italy every year to visit friends and family. I'm proud to be an American. However, I will not deny that every year I encounter Americans who do not behave at their best when they are guests in another country. When in Rome, do as the Romans. Here in the States, we demand conformity of our foreign guests and we are incredulous if they exhibit the slightest "un-American" behavior.

After being entranced by Tuscany on two occasions, I read Mayes' book and watched the American cultural view of Tuscany crescendo. I was extremely off-put by the hype, and consequently have chosen, for the past 10 years, to avoid a Tuscany filled with loud, demanding tourists.

I had loved the magical Tuscany that Dario shows you - deserted white stone roads, fabulous trattorie, ruined castles, churches, villas where it is delicious to imagine them in their hey-day, hills that grow into mountains with villages tucked neatly within, vineyards, active farms and olive groves.

I'm actually considering going back, having fallen for Tuscany once again.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Thomas B. Gross VINE VOICE on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I haven't read any of Frances Mayes' books, but my native Italian wife has, and she liked those well-enough that we have visited Cortona. I picked up this book because I thought the title was funny and I enjoy reading books like Beppe Severgnini's "Ciao America", another book written by an Italian about those crazy Americans.

Dario Castagno's book is not nearly as caustic as I had been lead to believe by the jacket blurb, as well as some of the previous Amazon reviews, and the title itself. It wasn't until I reached his chapter explaining the process behind the Palio that I really began to appreciate "Too Much Tuscan Sun" for what it is: a book written for Americans by a native Sienese.

There are a few entertaining anecdotes throughout the book about some of the weird American tourists he has met, but the funny stories he tells about American tourists say as much about him as they do about any of his clients.

A certain percentage of his clients appear to be people looking for a broad introduction to Italy who really ought to be just following the latest edition of Frommer's Italy (which is a guidebook I still use and rely on) rather than hiring a local guide to show them the more obscure sites that mean something to him personally.

I have been to a number of the tourist sites that Dario mentions as frequent stops on his tours, and I think that may help my appreciation of this book. For example, I would never dream of taking an elderly person to see Monte Oliveto Maggiore, because there is a long walk downhill to the monastery from the parking lot. Yet Dario tells the tale of trying to bring a busload of 20 elderly American tourists with predictably disastrous results.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Diana F. Von Behren TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This summer, I saw this book neatly stacked for sale in a wine store in the hill town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Knowing full well that I could get the book at a better price on the Amazon marketplace, I waited until I returned home to place my order. Unfortunately, Katrina's wrath swamped the city of New Orleans and I didn't receive the book until recently. However, seeing the beauty of Italy through private tour guide, Dario's eyes from a time lapse of four months and through the filter of such devestation, enhanced, for me, the book's quiet appeal

As many other reviewers have pointed out, Dario doesn't suffer foreign fools too well, and why should he? His obvious love of his own culture with its sumptions rustic 5 course lunches swathed in a sweet elixir of a fine Classico Chianti or famed Barbi Brunello set against the rolling golden landscape of cypresses, olive groves, vineyards, simple churches and stone farmhouses, speaks for itself. Why, Dario wonders, would foreign tourists, especially American tourists, want to come to Italy and not become Italian for the duration of their trip? Why drink Diet Coke when the fruit of the Sangiovese grapes is at hand? Why hire a guide, if you don't want to visit the area's monasteries, walk its medieval towns or hear of the famous Sienese Palio?

The book, therefore is a collection of recollection. To some, his bewilderment over the lack of excitement displayed with regard to his home and his criticism of the various types encountered during such head-scratching moments, may seem judgemental and anti-American.
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