An Umbrian Love Story
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An Umbrian Love Story (Italian Memoirs)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  701 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The realtor can only push open the massive wooden doors to the apartment and invite me to lean into the debris. Save a few skeletal boards, there is no floor. The walls are bared to medieval bricks. Where a chandelier once hung, a rusted, hand-wrought iron chain swings from an 18-foot, frescoed vault like a hangman's rope. With a tempestuous calculation of its potential, I...more
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published April 2007 by Allen & Unwin (first published 2006)
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I do love this woman's style. She writes in the most luscious way about food and the making of it, about Italians and their way of it, about adoring texture, and scent, and memory. All of her books are lovely, and this one is, too. Start with A Thousand Days in Venice though.
This is the third book in Marlena De Blasi's stories about living in Italy. By now she had become more accustomed to the cultural differences between the US and Italy, and she and her husband Fernando are as strongly connected as ever. It was interesting to see what new adventure or stuggle was laid at their doorstep.

This book again featured long passages with descriptions about food; food preparation, eating food, the setting food was presented in, and food at the markets. Another cast of quir...more
Lauren Murphy
This review was first posted @ The Australian Bookshelf

Marlena and Fernando move on from San Casciano for a new adventure in Orvieto, Umbria. After months and months of house-hunting they fall in love with house with the ballroom on Via del Duomo. The people of Orvieto offer unique socialcultural norms and expectations and once again Marlena is known as ‘The American,’ the outsider. Her desire to create a warm social network is hindered because that is not the way things are done in Orvieto.

I lo...more
Rich, delicious descriptions of a beautiful part of Italy. I enjoyed the author's approach to her new surroundings and the process of making her own place in Orvieto. It started slow for me, probably because I haven't read her two previous books chronicling her time in Venice and Tuscany, but it picked up by the second section and got better and better.

The simple life she describes, particularly as it relates to meals, is very appealing to me as a contrast to this hectic American existence of ou...more
Sara Pauff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I bought this book in a bookstore in Orvieto, just a few steps from the Palazzo of the title. It was an enchanting memoir of the author, the city, and the people she meets and becomes friends with. Make me want to go back to Orvieto some day, a town I was in love with even before reading her book.
Melissa (ladybug)
This is my first book by Marlena De Blasi. I found it a very rich and descriptive book. She has a way of letting you see the simple things in life and making you want to experience them yourself.
This was a real disappointment. I love Orvieto; it's beautiful, set way up on this vertical rock, and it has a fascinating Etruscan and Roman history.

De Blasi lived there for several years waiting for a ballroom to be restored, and doesn't even describe or explore the town in this memoir. This book is about that time in her life: there are shades of those English TV shows about people trying to buy property in Italy (gosh Italian bureaucracy is impenetrable, no one does anything on time!) with...more
The Lady in the Palazzo is about an American who is married to a Venetian, as they wait to move into their living space while it's being remodeled. That's pretty much the whole novel.

The narrator, the American, is a cookbook author and has to work on her latest book. She finds new friends as she looks for a place to cook while awaiting the remodel. While the couple waits to move in to where they want to live, the story unfolds.

The story wanders through their lovely life as they try to navigate t...more
Jun 01, 2008 Ken rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who dream of an ideal life in the European countryside.
I enjoyed this book, which is actually the third in a series of memoirs recounting De Blasi's life in Italy. I saw this title in the book store and thought it looked interesting not knowing about the previous volumes.

Even without the previous installments, it is easy to pick up on the "story so far," and De Blasi begins by telling how she and her husband decisded to move to Orvieto, a small Italian country town. The balance of the book focuses on their experiences in the town as they search for...more
This is the third of her books I've read -- but this is the best of them thus far -- and for SO many reasons which have no bearing upon why I recommend the books. There are three segments of varying lengths whic I will share as a sort of review because they are what to me hold the key to the effect of this book.

p74: "To be already full is the one and only way a body can aspire to and help sustain another one's joy." this rings SO true to me and at one and the same time peals deep and loud into m...more
Another fabulous book by Marlena de Blasi! I found this book in Orvieto while visiting a few weeks ago. Having read two other of her books, I was delighted to have found this one. I thought it would be a great read on the many train rides through Europe. I didn't get to start the book right away because I decided to skip the trains (3 weeks of train hopping had taken its toll) and had rented a car. I did get to read it several weeks later while flying home to the USA. I wish I had read this befo...more
Every single book I've read by Marlena De Blasi has touched my heart. I love this author. I love the incredibly descriptive pictures she paints of life in Italy. I want to sit down with her and eat warm bread and olive oil and listen to her talk all day long. I feel like the people in her stories are family, like I can taste the food they eat and see the expressions on their faces. Rarely do I read authors who have such an ability to open the canvas of the mind with their words. This story follo...more
This book left me with a nice warm feeling. A glimpse of life in Umbria that is rich with the pleasures of good relationships, great food and a lovely landscape.
Eine amerikanische Köchin lebt mit ihrem Mann, einem Italiener, in Orvieto. Sie ist trotz ihrer guten Italienischkenntnisse eine Fremde in dem Ort. Mit viel Liebe und Geduld erarbeitet sie sich das Vertrauen und die Freundschaft der Einheimischen. Sie erzählt von ihren Kampf mit den Vermietern ihres Palazzo und mit den Vorurteilen ihr gegenüber. Es ist ein liebesvolles Buch über Italien und speziell Orvieto. Man lernt die Orte kennen, das gute italienische Essen (inkl. deren Rezepte) sowie die M...more
Teresa D
If you are a lover of all things Italian then any book written by Marlena de Blasi is a must.

"Our earth is rich so we don't have to be."

The less there is,the more important all of it becomes."

"There's no great secret to joy.Just divine what makes you happy.That's the first thing you have to
know about yourself.Then set out to have or do or feel or be,according to that knowledge.Guide yourself.Keep your own counsel.Trust yourself.More or less,that's your job in life."

All of the above said by some...more
Louise Brown
Also wrote about other places in Italy
I love stories of people who have had courage and good fortune to pick up and transplant themselves in a foreign country but I just could not get into this book. I did not enjoy De Blasi's writing style. I felt there was an almost condescending voice to the book and it just did not hold my interest. These types of books are usually page turners for me because I can't wait to see what other misadventure the author has gotten themselves into. This story draaaaaaaaged.
MaryBeth Donnelly
This was my first book by the author, which may explain why I felt a little lost at times. I loved her food descriptions, and some of the way she'd turn a phrase when describing people. I just started A Thousand days in Tuscany, so while i did not give this a high rating, I liked it enough to try another book by De Blasi! She does make you long for the simple life, where life is truly lived, each moment, and not as overwhelmingly busy and complicated as it can be here.
Karen Hunt
Given that I didn’t love her first memoir (A Thousand Days in Venice), it’s no surprise that I didn’t love this book either. It was a bit hard to get into, but once I got about half way through I enjoyed it. Marlena and her husband moved from Venice to Tuscany (book #2) and now to Umbria. There was a bit of ‘assumed knowledge’ from the second book and at times it was a bit schmaltzy, but it was nice reading about the friends and experiences they had.
Lori Stull
Oct 04, 2007 Lori Stull rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: all those who love Italy
This book is a third in a series by Marlena di American ex-pat who goes to Italy and marries a Venetian. She wrote A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Both were awesome, this third is by far the best.... she and the Venetian move to Umbria (Orvieto to be exact) and the characters she describes along with the food references will make anyone smile (and salivate)... especially those who have been there. Read it now.
Marlena De Blasi took me to Italy like no other author has ever done!Through her beautiful words I could taste,smell,see,feel the wonder that is Italy!
But,yes,now I would Love to experience it in person!
This book was so satisfying to all my senses that I partook in slow bites, just to make it last longer!
I enjoyed "Under The Tuscan Sun" but that was just a taste of Italian life.
This is a feast!
I can't wait to read her other books!
I haven't read many travel/food memoirs, so am not really coming from a place of experience - having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Marlena has a way of describing that seems to make things fuller, more rounded, that seems to fill my mind with a richness that I haven't experienced before. I didn't understand some of what was happening (having not read any of her previous books) but that didn't detract from my enjoyment.
I began reading this immediately after finishing "A Thousand Days in Venice" and liked it even more than the first book. I was already accustomed to Marlena De Blasi's somewhat over-ripe style and found even more about Italian culture, society and food in this - all luscious. I would definitely recommend it to people who are planning a visit to Umbria, which despite Assisi, is far less well-known than her Tuscan neighbor.
Diane C.

I love the way she describes life, food and culture in Italy. Despite her comments about needing to earn a living, writing, taking tourists around Umbria and Tuscany, she seems to have enough $$ to shop for expensive tailor made clothes in Florence and travel when she needs to, and her world seems a bit priveleged and insular. But her prose is sensual, lovely and makes you feel like you are there.
There seem to be lot of books published that feature an eccentric character in a desirable/exotic location that attempt to make you feel like you know what it's like to live there, but never have to leave your couch. I'm not a big fan. I appreciate the observances of the nuances of a culture. I like the insider's view, but when the story doesn't go anywhere it's a struggle to finish.
Nova Walsh
A little slow in many parts. It was hard to understand at times because it referred to things and people from her previous books which I hadn't read. The food descriptions were a little long and unnecessary but I really enjoyed imagining some of the things she was eating. It picked up some towards the end and I liked the way that it ended, and the message.
Chou-chou returns with another delicious tale of an American living abroad in Italy, this time in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. (A place I've actually been!) She weaves her magic of food and friendship across class and cultural divides, navigating the intricate world of Italian custom and building renovation permits. Read this and enjoy a true taste of La Dolce Vita.
The next addition of Marlena's life in love, friendship and food in Italy. This book, her third about her life, revolves around their move to a small village in Umbria and their wait to move into a "ballroom" apartment. WHile they wait they meet new Italian friends, change their neighbors and eat and drink fabulous food. Her life is almost too good to be true!
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“Everything about this evening is both exquisite and bewildering and I can't decide if I want to go on with this dream or run back down the yellow-lit rock to the stable. But the stable door is closed.” 1 likes
“It was Don Paolo's birthday and all the people of the village were gathered in the piazza to celebrate him. The band played, the wine flowed, the children danced, and, as he stood for a moment alone under the pergola, a little girl approached the the beloved priest. "But Don Paolo, are you not happy?" she asked him. "Of course I am happy," he assured the little girl. "Why, then, aren't you crying?” 1 likes
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