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

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,094 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews

“At villa Donnafugata, long ago is never very far away,” writes bestselling author Marlena de Blasi of the magnificent if somewhat ruined castle in the mountains of Sicily that she finds, accidentally, one summer while traveling with her husband, Fernando. There de Blasi is befriended by Tosca, the patroness of the villa, an elegant and beautiful
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Is it a true story, as author Marlena de Blasi, says? It reads more like a fairy tale to me, and a gorgeously lyrical one at that. The pages drip with luscious descriptions. I read it while I was in Sicily, but I would have enjoyed it just as much, if I’d read it at home.
Apr 17, 2009 Chrissie rated it it was amazing

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 02, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2010 Kristina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Jan 26, 2012 Mayda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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

Foram anos que tive este livro parado na estante.

E para quê?

Para agora pegar nele. A pensar que era um romance fofinho e afinal ver que se trata de um livro de não ficção.

Mas não foi isso que não gostei nele.

Simplesmente havia algo na escrita desta autora com o qual não simpatizei.

Ela escreveu e eu li. Mas o que eu li não conseguiu cativar-me. Sentia-me uma estranha a olhar para o lar de alguém. Senti-me desapegada desta leitura.

E infelizmente, fiz algo impensável. Pulei para as últimas pág
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
Jul 04, 2010 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 29, 2014 Madri rated it liked it
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
E. Journey
Apr 22, 2015 E. Journey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2014 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 20, 2011 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 11, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jul 11, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 26, 2009 Wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 02, 2017 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tosca relates the story of her life to a journalist she has allowed to stay at her estate. The story begins with Tosca as a child who is traded to a Prince, by her father, for a horse. Tosca is raised and educated with the daughters of the family. As a teenager she realizes she is in love with the prince. The story continues through her life up to the time the journalist comes to stay with her. Years after she told her story she writes a letter to the journalist to tell her parts of the story th ...more
Oct 06, 2016 linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Prince

What a wonderful read! A love story of the heart and the senses! It took me awhile to get into the story, but once I did I was completely enchanted. Sad the story came to an end, but a perfect end it was. A story and fairytale all in one dreamy getaway place called Sicily. I loved 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
Sep 08, 2009 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cynthia Haggard
Dec 21, 2011 Cynthia Haggard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Janice Roberts
Feb 15, 2017 Janice Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an incredible story beautifully told. I plan on reading it again.
Apr 09, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 23, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, memoir
How did I find this book? Was it on Hoopla that I saw it? I don't remember. I started listening to the book on Hoopla. I almost stopped because at first the author's reading of the text was difficult for me. However, she wrote beautifully. I could picture everything. Having Sicilian heritage, I was hooked. Then something happened on Hoopla, as sadly often happens (not with Overdrive for some reason), and I could no longer access the book. I found it as an ebook on Overdrive. Yahoo! I find readin ...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
Jun 28, 2016 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Reading more like fiction than non-fiction, author de Blasi travels to Sicily to write a series of magazine articles and finds the locals elusive and uncommunicative. On a tip, she heads into the highlands where she encounters the beautiful and mysterious Tosca, proprietor of the lovely villa "Donnafugata," an unusual commune style residence/farm, at which de Blasi and her husband are eventually invited to stay. Told in a leisurely story-within-a-story format, (Tosca and the author chat in the g
Nov 03, 2009 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2012 Oma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.” 12 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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