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That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story (Italian Memoirs)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  962 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
"From de Blasi (The Lady in the Palazzo, 2007, etc.), a fragrant tale of life and love in the mountains of Sicily.Shortly after the Venetian interlude she luxuriously captured in A Thousand Days in Venice (2002), the author accepted an assignment to write a magazine article on the interior regions of Sicily. Like many other journalists, she was met by silence from the wary ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Finished: What a story! For me there should be no debate about whether a book gets 4 or 5 stars; if you cannot decide then it is only 4 stars. You have to be sure about a 5 star book. I am sure that this one gets my 5 stars. Why? Tosca, her life and what she made of it is totally fascinating. Not only her life but also Leo's and Cosimo's and Mafalda's. Extraordinary strong, wonderful people - all of them. You are missing something if you don't take the time to r
Jan 05, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jane by: It fell off the shelf
Shelves: favorite
1/5/2011 This morning, after 80 years of living and reading many books I just finished the most captivating and personally emotionally penetrating book I have read in all those 80 years. I am so moved by it that I must try to express my feelings in my so inadequate words.. Hopefully someone will take me seriously and also read and experience what I am experiencing. I could even go so far to say that it has the power to change my view of life and my actions to events within my own life. The book ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Memoirs can be tricky things. How good is a person’s memory, especially if the events that are in the distant past? It can extremely be tricky if a writer is recording someone else’s memories. Memoirist and food writer Marlena De Blasi has all of these issues to deal with in her fourth adventure, That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story.

De Blasi’s tale takes place in Sicily’s interior. In 1995, she and her husband Frenando stumble upon an unusual villa occupied primarily by older women in Sicily’s m
Sep 23, 2011 Kristina rated it did not like it
I tried, I really did. This is my second Marlena de Blasi book and I just don't enjoy her books. I can't even tell you what it is. I should enjoy them...Italy, food, scenic descriptions, quaint villas, etc. But I don't. I couldn't finish this book. Just moving on...
Book Concierge
3.5 ***
This nonfiction work is subtitled: A Love Story. It’s part travel, part biography, and definitely a love story. It’s jump-off point is a villa in the hills of Sicily that the author and her husband came across on their travels. They wound up staying there for months, and the author, in particular, was completely taken by the owner’s story. Most of the book focuses on Tosca relating the story of how she came to be the ward of Prince Leo and how she inherited the property that she turned i
Feb 23, 2012 Mayda rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
The subtitle of this book is A Love Story. It is not really a story of love. It is a story of lust, of want, of need. And while love is present in this tale, these other emotions supersede the notion of love. The idea that a man would trade an animal for a child, adopt and raise her with his own children, and while still married, claim to have fallen in love with her when she becomes of age is not my idea of a true love story. That premise aside, I found the author’s excessive use of Italian ann ...more
E. Journey
May 21, 2015 E. Journey rated it really liked it
This novel is a memoir, but it reads like a novel. The subtitle should cue you in: A Love Story. One as sentimental, dreamy, titillating, provocative, frustrating, and satisfying as any romance novel. Between a peasant girl and a prince, no less; both of them heroic. The necessary obstacles are there, too. And, yes, the love story, served within the context of the author’s visit to Sicily for a magazine article, does have a happy ending. How sweet is that!

Still, this is more than a story of a tr
Jan 30, 2015 Madri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have this thing for Sicily. I am fascinated by the place, the culture, the history, and the people. Marlena de Blasi’s book, That Summer in Sicily, looked like just the thing to satisfy my obsession – even if only in part. And she calls to life a wonderful, magical portrait of rural Sicily invoking all the senses. I, too, felt “grateful to be inside this dream of Sicily”. You can almost smell the freshly baked bread, the pastries and tarts, the fragrant garden in the early morning mist. You ca ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing! I'm kind of starting to get irritated by Marlena's writing style, but I'm glad she was able to tell this story about Tosca, Leo and the rest of the gang. I really fell in love with these people. I especially loved the ending. First I couldn't believe my eyes that the ending was such, but I'm glad it was. I wish I could meet these people and just hug them for dear life. I loved Leo's socialist concept and thought him to be a revolutionary. I love this book so much, I want t ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved this book! It was hard to set down. A wonderful, atmospheric tale told beautifully. I read at the end of my Kindle version of the book that the author is a food and wine writer. No's a delicious story, redolent with local flavours and dishes as well as a touch of romance. I'm gettin' my ticket for Sicily! "Buona se." Highly recommend!
Jan 09, 2016 Amalija rated it really liked it
Because of my love for wild and smart creatures who go on living as they please, this book was easy and enjoyable to read.
The language of Marlena de Blasi is excellent. I learned new words and expressions.
It was inspiring and romantic. Now I want to visit Sicily and have experiences there.
Jul 27, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it
There were several times reading this book (on my Kindle) that I stopped and asked if it was real. I even had a friend look it up for me while we were at the pool. I decided it was fictional and read it like a novel. When I got to the end and saw that is was a memoir I was much more intrigued. I want to know more about these people. I want to see pictures. The fact that it is based on real people took it from a 3 to a 4 star for me. I loved the description of the beautiful lodge, the gardens and ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Beautiful written memoir about the author and her husband's travels into the interior of Sicily, where they are first met with stony silences and suspicion. They stumble upon Villa Donnafugata, run by an intimidating woman named Tosca and home to many widows, who together have created a harmonious society. Tosca invites Marlena and her husband Fernando to stay, and after several weeks, Tosca volunteers to tell Marlena her story. The book is mostly comprised of the story of Tosca's early beginnin ...more
Jan 25, 2011 Louise rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most amazing love stories I have ever read. Thank you Marlena for giving us the haunting portrait of Tosca, a timeless glimpse into Sicilian life as told by a Sicilian. I was mesmorized and enchanted by this worman of great character. Now knowing the conclusion, I must re-read the book with very different eyes. Early details and characters have much more meaning now that Tosca's story has unfolded through Marlena's exquisite wordsmithing.
Apr 27, 2016 Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, europe
This is a work of nonfiction: a memoir within a memoir and set entirely in secretive Sicily. It's enchanting, captivating, and I'm suffering from a terrible book hangover. The bulk of the book is Tosca's story--a woman born into a peasant family between world wars, her fairy-tale adoption by a prince, and the subsequent life she leads. It's a wonderful story, a great summer/vacation/beach read, and I really adored this read!
Jul 11, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I think I have had enough of Marlene De Blasi. Her total self involvement is getting rather annoying. What was sweet when she wrote her first book about love in Italy has gotten very she must have gotten too. The red lipstick and letting down of hair and wearing grand dresses just doesn't cut it anymore. OK, I'm done!
Jan 31, 2009 Wally rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book about loving and living. It captured me immediately and held my attention througout -- what a story she has to tell! I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this book with others as I found it meaningful on a range of levels.
Nov 17, 2014 Joanne rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read, but a few points keep me from giving it a higher rating. Usually I enjoy her style of writing, but this one fell short. Too many elements went into this story. I didn't like how much of the story was devoted to how she came to learn about Tosca's unusual life. Tosca's memoir was fascinating. It's hard to imagine that this actually happened. The mix of clans and serfdom in Sicily make a complicated climate that has been kept "silent". I would be curious to hear what a ...more
Apr 07, 2016 Keri rated it did not like it
This book is unbelievable as fiction and the claim that it is an actual memoir is just ridiculous. I normally love books with lots of food and scenery descriptions but I just found this silly and boring. It is not terribly well-written and even though it is quite short, it felt like the story was dragging on. I noticed that the Kirkus review said something along the lines of "people who like this author will like this book", which is usually code for "this book isn't very good unless you are a d ...more
Cynthia Neale
Feb 22, 2016 Cynthia Neale rated it it was amazing
Another book by Marlena de Blasi to savor and delight in! In her luxurious voice that invites the reader into the food, history, and culture of Italy, as well as into her own experience with it all, this is her story within a story. A true one she happened upon while traveling with her husband in Sicily. I lost myself in this tale and lived with the author in a magnificent ruined castle in the mountains where she was befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa. Tosca slowly unraveled her lif ...more
Oct 07, 2010 Leah rated it it was amazing
This story was breathtakingly beautiful and every romantic bone in my body responded, I wanted to be present for every word. Marlena and Fernando go to Sicily so that she can write about the culture there. Few outsiders to Sicily ever make it past the cold silence of the inhabitants, but they find themselves brought, silently, to a castle. Women, widows, care for the grounds and one lady named Tosca has the run of the place. She sits down to tell Marlena her story which is nothing short of a rea ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Pat rated it really liked it
When I wrote about Ragusa's Castle of Donnafugata for Italy Magazine, several readers contacted me to say that it was the setting of this book. Sadly, that is not so but I am grateful to them for pointing the book out to me. As Marlena De Blasi states in an introductory note, Donnafugata is the name of several real and fictional properties in Sicily, most famously the one near Palermo in Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard. However, De Blasi's tale is none the less fascinating for that:

In 1995, D
Cynthia Haggard
Dec 21, 2011 Cynthia Haggard rated it it was amazing
When Marlena de Blasi was given the assignment of writing about the interior regions of Sicily, she suspected that she got the job because others had turned it down. For “the center of the island is an aloof and pathless place, and the colossal silence of it all is reflected in its people,” a friend warned. But de Blasi was intrigued. She made plans. She traveled to Sicily. She made phone calls. Her phone calls were not answered. Her meetings didn’t happen. And when she tried to befriend people ...more
Early on: "It's the human story, which repeats itself endlessly if only to prove that the past is not dead. That the past wears different costumes. Sometimes.... There's always a prince and a palace. Always a priest. And there's always a girl. The protagonists are eternal. With each performance the characters proceed as if they were the first ones to ever act it out. As if they didn't know how the play would end....It was he (Lampedusa) who said that all lovers play the parts of Romeo and Juliet ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Sis3 rated it it was ok
Just finished listening to this book which is performed by the author. I'm not sure I would have finished listening to it had I another book to listen to at the time. The author is breathy and overly dramatic. The incredibly long sentences drag on and on. I found it difficult to differentiate between speakers when it came to dialogues. Had it not been for the "he said" and "she said" I"m not sure I'd know who was speaking. As far as the content goes it was interesting and I'm happy to have read ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Daiane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admito que no começo achei que não iria gostar do livro, mas depois que a história de Tosca começou a ser contada não havia motivos para parar de ler! Um príncipe com que 'quê' que Robin Hood (eu poderia dizer), um clã com muito poder (ou seria máfia italiana?), um amor puro e quase proibido - tudo isso traz uma riqueza de detalhes e informações que só deixam a história mais cativante. E pensar que não é apenas uma história, que tudo isso realmente aconteceu.
Aug 21, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing
Having visited Sicily for the first time last spring, I did a search for "Sicily" titles in the library catalog to create my summer vacation reading list. This was a perfect choice. Rich storytelling, at times perhaps contrived, but delightful nonetheless. Romance, intrigue, tradition, mystery and history equal Sicily, and this story captured an era beautifully in a story of the last prince.
Jun 02, 2012 Margaret rated it really liked it
I finally finished this. I have no idea why it took so long, it's not that long a book.
A charming story within a story unfolds in this novel. It describes a Sicily that is simultaneously intimate and forbidding, political and pastoral. The characters who seem the primaries at the beginning of the book are quickly pushed to the side with their arrival at the VIlla Donafugato, where much is mysterious - even when it has seemingly been revealed. My favorite part of the book was the food porn - glo
Feb 14, 2011 Mom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Wow, what evocative language.... I listened to the MP3 download. The reader's voice and Italian language skills are gorgeous. This is a complex love story. It gives the listener a tone, lifestyle, value system, political system and somewhat historical glimpse of life in Sicily in the mid-twentieth century. I finished the tale wishing I could be a part of the society so beautifully described by the author, who, as it turns out, was also the reader of this audio book. She reads in a bit of a monot ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Oma rated it liked it
This was an tale of life in Sicily and the omerta (vow of silence). The author is fascinated by the tale of Tosca and Leo. Leo, the local prince, receives nine year old Tosca from her father in trade for a horse. She joins his family and is educated. She develops a deep love for Leo and, on her eighteenth birthday, she becomes his mistress. Their love affair is complicated by Leo's marriage to Simona and his attempts to reform the feudal system still in place in Sicily. Leo is punished by the "c ...more
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“Some people are born empty. All manner of good deeds and patience and loving kindness can't even begin to fill them up.” 10 likes
“She's a woman. Like a chameleon does, a woman quietly blends into all the parts of her life. Sometimes you can hardly tell she's there, she's so quiet going on about her business. Feed the baby. Muck the stables. Make soup from stones. Make a sheet into a dress. She doesn't count on destiny for anything. She knows its her own hands, her own arms, her own thighs and breasts that have to do the work. Destiny is bigger in men's lives. Destiny is a welcome guest in a man's house. She barely knocks and he's there to open the door. "Yes, yes. You do it," he says to destiny and lumbers back to his chair.” 5 likes
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