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.
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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.