Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure Second Printing ed. Edition
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"Any reader with a passion for food, wine, literature, and, most of all, the streets of Florence and the hills of Tuscany, will find the release of Andrew Cotto's latest novel, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure, a rare delight to the senses and intellect. Through Cotto's hypnotic prose, one finds themselves lost in Italy." - The Brooklyn Rail
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Florence. And I've gone back there many many times over the years. This book put me right back there with it's wonderful characters, incredible descriptions of food and beverages, and evocative descriptions of Firenze and the countryside. It is a book I will cherish and read over and over again.
Go ahead and buy the book - you'll be happy you did.
I really loved it. 📚
Top international reviews
I was excited to review this book as it is set in Italy, I visited Rome on holiday last year so I was looking forward to visiting this beautiful country again on the page. Cotto’s description of the villages in this book make it clear that he has a love for Italy and a keen eye for the details in his travels. We are first introduced to two characters, Jacoby and Claire, engaged to be married and planning to live in Italy for a year whilst Claire works on a travel writing piece.
Immediately we can see there is some tension between this couple, Jacoby, who is our main character has been through a rough time of it and is quite reliant on his fiancée. I don’t know how this makes me feel about Jacoby, I have sympathy for him, but I also think he needs to be a self-made man a little more. But he is clearly a passionate, as is apparent in his love of music and his adoration of Italy.
As a character, Jacoby is a lost man, he doesn’t know what or who he wants. He is a character that readers can relate to. He’s trying to go about his day to day and become a better person, but he’s learning every step of the way, like we all are. I still haven’t decide if I like Jacoby or not, he does some very questionable things in this book that make me think I don’t, but then he is just human and he is the perfect reflection of real, human mistakes.
If you are a fan of food, then this book is definitely for you. Cotto’s evident knowledge of a rich pallet shines through in the descriptions of meals and wines in Cucina Tipicia. A lot of these pages are taken up with descriptions of taste and experiences with food. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with this type of focus, but it certainly made my stomach growl. I also appreciate reading about characters eating, usually this is glazed over, especially in fantasy, fictional characters still need food too!
The plot is based around a secret Jacoby has, a photo he wants to know more about, one that could possibly link him to family he never thought he’d have. Along his journey he meets various new friends and becomes more integrated into Italian life. I liked the investigative undertone of this plot, the characters make references to being like the Da Vinci Code, and I liked that playful, but explorative nature they have. At times it seems the answers fall into their laps quite easily, but this this is a short book so I appreciate the story needed to be moved along.
My only criticism to this writing style was the breaking off into Italian in the speech. I am not an Italian speaker and at times the characters would talk for a few lines and I wouldn’t know what they were saying. I would get a vague description in English afterwards, but for me this broke up my reading experience and was unneeded for English readers.
Overall though, this story was refreshing and calm. A perfect summer read to be sat by the beach with, or one to enjoy whilst tucked inside with a glass of wine and some Italian food. The ending was very well put together and gave me a good sense of fulfilment. Cotto is a travel author to watch out for, his writing takes you straight to the setting and is a pleasure to read.
When the story begins the disheartened Jacoby is unemployed following an unfortunate incident at work, and he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy with his accomplished travel writer fiancée Claire.
Arriving in France, together they travel along the French Riviera, then onto the eye-opening Italian Autostrada, enjoying the marvellous coastal views, and staying at a beautiful coastal hotel. Then the next day they head inland to the villa they have rented, in the hills above Florence, for the coming year.
However, although they are primarily in the region for Claire’s assignment for the prestigious Haxby’s Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda. Having never known his mother, he discovered upon the death of his father a box containing a photograph of a woman standing on a great lawn, and written on the back is ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.’ Thoroughly intrigued, the newly orphaned Jacoby looks upon this opportunity to join Claire at this disastrous stage in his career as the hand of fate at work.
With him, we join Claire on her research trips, as she travels the countryside meeting people from all walks of life. These experiences give the reader a wonderful introduction into the food and culture of this part of Italy, and a very entertaining look into the mentality of the Italian males’ mind, regarding women.
However, this story is primarily Jacoby’s adventure, and left to his own devices, he finally tracks down a Hotel Floria-Zanobini, which he discovers is run by another expat American, the eccentric Bill.
When he shows Bill his picture, its story begins to unfold, and an excited Jacoby finds himself beginning an incredible adventure, with Bill showing him the Italy he has become part of in the previous 35 years. Together the friends set out on a mission to track down the mysterious lady in the photograph and discover the link she has with Jacoby.
Encounters with wild boar, incredible museums and artwork, wonderful buildings, and the marvellous traditional recipes, wines, and experiences, this story has it all. The author brings Florence and the countryside surrounding it to life, as with Jacoby his readers embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery of the beautiful experiences this country has to offer. Whilst throughout the story the tumultuous love story between Jacoby and Claire rides a roller coaster, helped in no mean way by Claire’s outrageous cousin Dolores.
Whether you love Italy, dream of visiting it one day (like myself) or just want to enjoy an incredibly enjoyable book set in a beautiful part of the world, I thoroughly recommend this story as the best I have ever read!
Not only is it set in Italy but the important part is that it has an excellent story line. Although it is based on food I only realised this about halfway through as I was enjoying the journey through the life of a disfunctional couple one of whom is the main character.
Jacoby's description of each meal he eats made me hungry and I felt myself wanting to pour myself a glass of wine so often that I might have become a serious drinker if I had let myself. I certainly felt like I gained fifteen pounds reading the book. I was so envious of the scenery, the olive trees, the mountains and the vineyards that I was dreaming of Italy during the night.
The story to me, was yummy, entertaining and delicious. I gorged on the pages and devoured the words. I crave more of this. Such fun!