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Vanilla Beans & Brodo: Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany Paperback – May 1, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This isn't just another "we moved to a foreign country for a better quality of life" book. Instead, it is a leisurely exploration of a medieval Tuscan village and its people, from a tortured past to a thriving present. Montalcino, which has perched for centuries atop a hill in Tuscany, is noted today for its exceptional Brunello wine and the annual Sagra, an archers' tournament. Australians Isobel and Lou Dusi arrived there as empty nesters. Over time, as they found acceptance among the Montalcinesi, they became Isabella and Luigi. But their book is less about cultural adaptation than about paying meticulous attention to every facet of Italian life. Culturally sensitive, Dusi avoids the trap of mocking the unfamiliar or seemingly bizarre. She takes small steps to insinuate herself into social life, always mindful of a history that is not her own. She introduces us, without prejudice, to the ancient animosities between the country and village people, enthusiastically supports the local soccer team, and works to save a church in her Pianello quarter. Most of the stories, though, belong to the Montalcinesi Duci's landlords, shopkeepers, village officials, historians, hunters, and amateur archaeologists. This m lange of adventure and social history is recommended for large travel collections or where there is interest in Italian life. Janet Ross, formerly with Sparks Branch Lib., NV
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

After many years working in Australia in interior design, Isabella Dusi decided to move to Italy with her husband Luigi. They now run a travel business based in Montalcino. This is her first book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743404114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743404112
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,420,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have lived in Italy for the past six years and have read many books on Italian life. This is one of the best as it truly shows how Italians really live, think, and gives such a wonderful description of the historical and political aspects of a hill-top village that I was even tempted to immediately begin reading it again to be sure I did not miss anything.
I recently visited Montalcino and came across this book for the first time. I do think a different title would have put it on the best seller's list as it is much better than "Under the Tuscan Sun" or others I have read. Well written in the descriptions of people and places. We are recommending it to our book club! This is a must read before visiting any hill town in Tuscany - but especially beautiful Montalcino. After reading this book, I cannot wait to return.
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By A Customer on October 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am totally in love with everything Italian and with the Italian joy of life. I am planning to take a one-way trip when I retire and hopefully land permanently in some marvelous location such as Montalcino. This book makes us aware not only of the wonders available to us when we visit Italy but to how much we miss by not being prepared for our visits.
VB&B is a fascinating book about a region and a primer on how to learn to adapt and enjoy another culture than our own. We so seldom slow down and learn in depth about a place before moving on to something else - this book will teach you how to absorb the atmosphere which most people miss.
When you have finished "Vanilla Beans and Brodo", go on to another great book about learning to live in Italy: "Extra Virgin".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read at least 30 books on Italy and many on life in Tuscany, and this one was CLEARLY the worst!! The writer takes forever to tell a story, and goes into so much detail I'm asleep before she ever gets to the point. I've been to Montalcino, and I still found myself laboring to get through this book. There are MANY better books to read: "Too Much Tuscan Sun", "The Reluctant Tuscan", "A Thousand Days in Tuscany", "A Day in Tuscany", "I, Mona Lisa", "Extra Virgin", "Italian Neighbors"....
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Format: Paperback
We found this enchanting book in our apt. when we arrived for a 3 1/2 month stay in a small town 10 K's from Montalcino in Sept., 2002. My husband was completely mesmerized and suggested that I also read it. I was immediately caught up in the life in our neighboring town. When visiting one day, we stopped in at the pharmacy (Salvioni's) and met Maurelia, the pharmacist's wife. She was one of the main persons is the story. After a half an hour conversation, she invited us to view the upcoming Festa del Tordo from their balcony (directly overlooking the parade route) and to meet the author, Isabella Dusi. The entire day only clarified our feelings about the warmth and truly embracing, friendly nature of the Italian people. A MUST READ!
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Format: Paperback
I bought VB&B soon after it was released in Australia just before Xmas '01 and only just finished reading it now in Nov. '02.What a big mistake!!In that time I was lucky enough to spend nearly 3 months in Italy.Oh,how I wish I would have read Isabella's book by the time I got to Montalcino in June.We did spend several hours there.Nowhere near long enough.....and it was during siesta as well!What we saw of Montalcino barely scratched the surface. How do you think I felt reading VB&B?It has felt like I've been transported into Isabella & Luigi's life in this hilltop town.I feel like part of the family.She has written such a strong account of their Tuscan experience that I feel as if I've been there to share it all with them.Not only is it beautifully written but also wonderfully illustrated.Can't wait to return to Italy and to meet the "family " in Montalcino!
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Format: Paperback
I have recently read Vanilla Beans and Brodo and as a regular visitor to Italy over the past 55years and being a lover of all things Italian I find that the author has captured so completely the character of, and the atmosphere of a typical village that each time I picked up the book I have immediately been transported into Montalcino to become involved with their lives and to identify with their problems and to be almost able to taste Il Brunello.
I have yet to read a book which has given me a more accurate insight of the character of the cittadini and contadini of the Tuscan countryside
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By A Customer on August 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Wow ! What a terrific perception into the real life of the charming wine village of Montalcino. This book really spoke to me. Isabella Dusi has a style that makes you feel as if you are actually there meeting and interacting with the local villagers.
Although I have traveled in Italy many times, including two visits to Montalcino, I never really understood the mindset of the typical Tuscan hill town native until I was enlightened thru the eyes of this transplanted Aussie who has lived among them for the past six years. If you love Italia, and especially Tuscany, you have to read this book. Mille grazie Isabella ...
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Format: Paperback
I bought VB & B to read whilst on holiday in another part of Tuscany. Having been gripped by what I was reading I made my party of 7 travel to Montalcino for the day to experience it for themselves. Isabella made me want to be a part of the village & to meet the characters who are the mainstays of the book. It is a combination of the day to day adventures of the many friends that Isabella & her husband have made since moving to Montalcino, a history of the village itself and a handbook for anyone who wants to explore Montalcino. The book takes you through the different seasons in a year of village life, and includes wonderfully evocative descriptions of some of the annual events that take place. These are so well written that you actually feel as if you are experiencing them for yourself along with the author, and in fact that is exactly what my family hope to do as we intend to travel to Montalcino again. I highly recommend this book as not only is it one of the best books I have read in a long time, but it made me feel such a part of Montalcino that I have now taken up honorary membership of one of the quarters of the village.
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