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Under the Tuscan Sun

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  235,621 ratings  ·  2,475 reviews

Frances Mayes—widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—opens the door to a wondrous new world when she buys and restores an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. In evocative language, she brings the reader along as she discovers the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy. Mayes also crea
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 2nd 1997 by Broadway Books (first published 1996)
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WARNING: THIS BOOK IS THE MEANDERING INCOMPLETE THOUGHTS OF A MIDDLE-AGEd WOMAN THAT EATS LIKE A ITALIAN SUMO WRESTLER AND BOUGHT A DISASTER OF A HOUSE THAT NEEDED A HUGE AMOUNT OF REPAIR. THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO THIS BOOK. Perfect if you are practicing speed reading. You could skip every other sentence and still understand that she actually enjoys fixing up this crappy house in Italy. Absolutely nothing like the movie. Disappointing.
I didn't finish it. And, frankly, that's not like me at all. The book is well reviewed, and well written. And yet, somehow, I just really didn't like it. The author can truly write, and the topics were of great interest to me, but I felt the entire time like she was untouchable. She was encased in her own experience and at no point did I feel welcomed or able to understand her. Her life path never really found a commonality with my own, nor did she make me love her. In the end, I did myself the ...more
Dec 20, 2013 Leftbanker rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fanny pack owners
Shelves: travel
I need to preface this by saying that had this book been anything less than a monster success I wouldn't trash it. But for the life of me I can't see why it's so popular. What if she had wrote about remodeling a house in North Dakota? Would that be interesting? Of course not, so why are the tedious details of doing the same in Italy any different? This book has about as much to do with Italy as it does with North Dakota.

I had some friends come to visit me here in Spain and one of them was readin
At 66 pages in, I'm throwing in the towel.

Somewhere around the age of 22 or 23, I decided I was done with library books. Now, don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate libraries. I became a reader because of access to wonderful libraries. But, as an adult, I'm OCD enough not to enjoy the concept of library books. Wondering how many people read them while on the toilet, encountering books that smelled like ash trays, finding potato chip crumbs wedged between pages 32 and 33, encountering a sticky
I hear a lot of crap about how this book is silly, fluffy, boring, slow, unstructured, unserious. I've had three people now (all men =p) tell me it's "chicklit." First of all, is that supposed to be an insult? Second: What? Perhaps this all has something to do with how popular the book was and continues to be. Regardless, don't let the naysayers dissuade you from giving it a try.

The writing is poetically beautiful, illuminating a place that is equally so. Plenty of "place writing" does a disser
Wanting to learn about all things Italian was the reason I picked this book. I started it as an audio book. But even as a listen while being a prisoner on the highway, I had to stop after the first CD. Her out of touch with reality pinings about her problems encountered when buying a home in Italy (who in the world can afford this in the first place!) grated. Hearing that one of the primary joys of her Italy travels was buying shoes, was a major clue that this was not a book for me. Then when sh ...more
Heather Vance
I first heard about this story when the film version was being hyped. For some reason I never bothered to view it, perhaps because it appeared amidst other seemingly trite films that did not interest me. However I found this copy in the used library bookstore and from the inside cover description I realized that it's subject matter greatly interested me. Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, At Home in Italy is her personal account of a life shifting and settling in the landscape of the Italian c ...more
While i thoroughly enjoyed the book, i WILL say that its not what i expected since i had seen and enjoyed the movie first. most of the story is completely different than the movie.....but what bothered me is that there was no real story plot here besides the fixing up of the house over time. as she fixes the house, she fixes her life, and in the end "turns italian" and finds where she belongs (not that she seemed out of place at the beginning). I guess i was slightly disappointed in 2 things: 1) ...more
Laura C.
“ It’s not fair that some people get to live like this!” she said, throwing the book down on her unwashed, non- authentic linoleum floor. “ A wonderful companion that willing does chores, looks good without his shirt, never argues, likes to travel; cash to buy and then renovate a villa in Tuscany where you live every summer and at Christmas and bottle your own olive oil from your own trees; have tons of flowers, fruit trees and terraces with lounge chairs; find Etruscan stones in your back yard; ...more
This was a re-read, and I loved it again. I know there's plenty here who
don't think much of this book, but it totally appeals to my utterly romantic
notions of running away to live in Europe someday....sigh.... ;-) Haven't
been to Italy yet, but this book *was* largely responsible for my subsequent
trips to France, Spain, and Turkey. And my list (TBV list - "to be
visited" - tee hee) has been growing ever since.

This was also my first PalmPilot read, and I was pleasantly surprised to
find that I compl
I saw the movie first and didn't realize it was based on a book.

So first of all, this is not a novel. It's a woman's journal of the purchase and clean up of an old house in Tuscany. It includes recipes, gardening directions, weather reports, menus, etc. And if that's what you were expecting, it's actually very good. However, I unfortunately saw the movie when it came out, in complete ignorance that it was a book first.

And. . . I'm still confused about how *this* book got made into *that* movie.
The movie made her far more interesting than the book did.

Movie version: her best friend is a lesbian and they send Mayes on a gay tour of Tuscany since the friend's wife doesn't want her to travel in the first trimester. The trip is to help Mayes recover from the divorce. She falls in love with the country, finding magic in unexpected places and buys a villa. In restoring it, she learns to love herself again, as she learns Italian ways of living.

Book version: straight lady buys house with hus
Plot: Author summers in Tuscany, buys an old farmhouse, refurbishes it, travels through Italy, and cooks constantly.

Review: Open up a "Sunset" or a "National Geographic Traveler" magazine, and imagine reading a beautifully descriptive & evocative 6-page essay on what it's like to live & work & cook in Italy. Then, when you finish it, flip the pages back and start the article again. But substitute the Zuppa Toscana with Porcini Risotto. The Pesto Crostini for the Fontina Bruschetta. A
I so rarely stop reading mid-book, but I found this one to be so rambling and uninteresting and I'm at a point in life where I feel no obligation to push through such an experience, even (or especially) to please someone who thought for sure they knew what I'd like.

The prospect of buying a shambles of a house, no matter where, and restoring it, is a subject that is of tremendous interest to me. Although I'm not "traveled," I can well image that the effort of obtaining a passport, packing, and f
Jul 03, 2008 Tamara rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tamara by: Conifer book friends, I think?
CRAP CRAP CRAP...HATED IT!!! This is the epitome of nauseating travelogues. This woman thinks she is Italian because she renovated and lived in a small property in Tuscany??? And she is clearly so much smarter, knows better, and has more experience in everything (not JUST renovating and living in a small house in Tuscany) than anyone else on earth because she renovated and lived in a small house in Tuscany. Blech.
Here's the thing. I loved this book when I first read it (was I 20? maybe 22...). Because I was young, and hadn't learned how to resent those people who gallivant around the globe with too much money on their hands telling us how charmed their lives are while describing the picturesque landscape. That being said, the book is well-written and the descriptions of Tuscan life are, of course, deeply seductive. Because that's the point: a life where you worry whether your wrought-iron gate is cast in ...more

Half of this is recipes. Under the Tuscan Sun is fairly known and well reviewed... I didn't realize cookbook, sort of.
The other half was a real estate guide, and a renovation guide, and then a tour guide of Tuscany. I mean, really?
All this intertwined with sappy statments in the fashion of Eat Pray Love. Yuck.

It was well written all right, and I can see the appeal for some people. For me, when I want a recipe, I'll reach for an actual cookbook, thank you. Mark Bittman, anyone? Tuscany?
Frances Mayes wrote this book based on her experience of buying and restoring a villa in Tuscany. I read it summer 2001 while I was visiting Meredith in St. Croix and left it for her to read. The descriptions of life, light, food and wine made me want to move to Italy. I remember a lot of the recipes contained pine nuts, which I didn't think I liked at the time.

Frances Mayes used to teach at UGA, and John knows her. I told my brother to read this book; he told me it changed his life.

The movie i
...for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

I was at an airport.
I needed a book.
It was the 1990s (no e-books).
Another cross-country business trip.
This was it.

The Tuscan sun has warmed me to the marrow.

I read the whole thing from cover-to-cover on that journey. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was the locale, maybe it was because I was leaving sun and flying into snow, but I really enjoyed this book. Frances Mayes had me turning pages to discover the
I love travel writing and was really looking forward to reading this book. Sadly for me, about a third of the way through I realized that I wasn't reading a book about Italy or travel, I was reading a very long, very dry book about home improvement that just happened to take place in Tuscany.
I'd never heard of this book until the autumn of 1999, a few days after I arrived in Cortona, the town/subject of this book. Every time I turned around, all these baby boomers were asking me if I knew where Francis Mayes lived. I had know idea who she was. I soon learned, however, that she was the author of this very book, which was about her experience rehabbing a home on the other side of the hill from Cortona.

My experience in Cortona was life changing. When I returned to the states, I was sa
Davis Aujourd'hui
This is an inspirational book written by a woman who is going through a transition in her life. While visiting Tuscany, she decides to take a leap of faith and to begin a brand new life. Even though she can't afford the home which she wants to buy, the owner realizes that how much the author values the home and that it should be hers. Consequently the owner accepts the author's modest offer. That was spiritual! I especially appreciated this aspect since I am the author of a spiritually-themed bo ...more
I've had this book probably since it was first published in the mid-Nineties but I never had the urge to read it until now. I've seen the movie that was ever-so-loosely based on it and I have to admit that the movie didn't fill me with enthusiasm to read the book. The other day I had this urge to read it, so I curled up in bed with it. Honestly, it was like I was there. There isn't a great deal to say about this book. It's memoir, it's travel-writing, it's lush and beautiful. There doesn't need ...more
I'm almost done, after over a year in my work bag, reading a couple of pages here and there. Won't see the movie, but based on that synopsis, this is nothing like it, really. The author of this book is an elitist snob and I have a hard time generating any sympathy when she complains of any delay in renovating her villa. I'm only finishing it because it has become a battle of wills.

9/17/10 ok, I finished this and it was crap. I don't even know what the last 2-3 chapters were for, except to add pa
Jul 22, 2009 Tara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who value food, beauty, change and experience.
I'd read a lot of reviews of this book, ranging from lukewarm to downright cold, but I read it anyway, having been such an ardent fan of the film.

First off, the film and the book share a name and that's about it. The real Frances Mayes writes about her experiences in traveling to Tuscany, experiencing the culture and subsequently buying and renovating a villa in Cortona, Tuscany, but by all accounts her decision to travel there had nothing to do with heartache. Now, while the story in the book
I've only just begun, and I want to live this woman's life! How awesome is it to visit a sun-drenched foreign country (southern Italy no less) and buy a fix-it-upper villa to renovate top to bottom. I envy her, relaxing on her patio with chianti, crusty bread, and olives, after a day spent redoing stucco and tile. (after pg. 148)

Wow...I really enjoyed this book with its vivid descriptions of a niche of life in rural Tuscany. The food and wine details were enough to have me salivating, and her in
Mar 20, 2010 Gaisne added it
Sorry for my english but I am french and I love F. Mayes'book. I might have ridden her 3 books , under the tuscany, Bella Italia, and around the world ( saveurs vagabondes in french) that I am still reading for the 3rd times ! I offered those books many times to my friend. We must travel to Spain next september and I love so much Italia , I read " around the world " to find some pleasure to go there with the same eyes than Frances Mayes. She has such glance to the beauty of simple life, read her ...more
This is about a University professor from San Francisco who is in a new relationship after a divorce. She falls in love with the Tuscan countryside after spending several summers there. She and her significant other decide to buy and renovate an old house that has been standing vacant for years. I was glad I read it because I learned a lot about the Italian culture, but it didn’t absorb me like a good novel. It’s a book you can read for a couple of hours and put down and not pick up again for se ...more
Una Tiers
This book had a little too much of Oh it's so perfect here. While it was interesting to see what the renovations uncovered in terms of what was in the house before, the details bogged down the story.
I will say that when I first picked up the book, I was so looking forward to learning more about the characters I loved from the movie. That being said, I was not that surprised that the movie is only slightly related to the book. So, based on that, and reviewing the book simply for its own sake, I did not like it. I was "reading" this book by listening on audiobook,and I simply felt as if I was listening to that broken repeating record. First we fixed the wall, then we fixed another wall, then ...more
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  • An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude
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Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir , published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the Worl
More about Frances Mayes...
Bella Tuscany A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller In Tuscany Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

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“Life offers you a thousand chances... all you have to do is take one.” 147 likes
“There is no technique, there is just the way to do it.
Now, are we going to measure or are we going to cook?”
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