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The Hills of Tuscany (The Tuscan Trilogy #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,126 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
The true-life adventure of a couple who did what most of us only dream of doing, Ferenc Mate's enticing, beautifully written memoir of their first year in this enchanted place brings to life the real Tuscany: the neighbors, the spectacular hills where The English Patient was filmed, country life, the farm family down the road who virtually adopt them and with whom they rel ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 12th 1999 by Delta (first published November 2nd 1998)
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Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it
I was really prepared to hate this - the soft-focus mid-menopause cover contributed to a sense of dread about it. But as I'm writing about tuscany, I've had to plow through all sorts of sentimental drivel about the perfect eden that is the contado of tuscany, inhabited by peasants who are the salt of the earth and live in utter harmony with the hedgehogs.

I kept thinking as I read this book of an amazing cookbook I own called La Rocca, which is a record by a WA italian woman of her life and reci
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: arm chair travelers, Italophiles
Ok I know I say I LOVE THIS BOOK for just about every other book I read but I really do LOVE this book. I have been in love with Tuscany/Umbria and Provence for a while now and I love reading travel essays/memoirs. Most of them have been ok and I've enjoyed reading them but nothing like The Hills of Tuscany. Mate really really captures the essence of the region without wearing you out. Hard to explain. His writing is evocative and eloquent but still simple.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After slogging through the fist 50 pages, which are slow, this was a pleasure. The slower pace of life, friendships, beautiful Italy, all made this a delight to read.
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OK, I guess I'm with the minority on this one...
I would re-read this book before I EVER read another book by Francis Mayes! Pardon me for not preferring that every descriptive paragraph end on a negative note.
I read this book while laying flat on my back hoping I could recover in time for a family trip to, yes, Tuscany. Mate encouraged me to get myself back in form and ready for the trip. He painted a wonderful, inviting picture for me, which did come true for us in our travels.
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Ty hvězdičky jsou jen tak, aby byly. Nedokážu to hodnotit, tuším, že úplně dobře by to nedopadlo. Francouzské a italské venkovské (příp. vinařské) příběhy jsou můj oblíbený kýč, takže mně se to líbilo :)
Jim Cabaj
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved when I traveled to Italy. Explored the cultural treasures of Tuscany. Enjoyed big glass of wine accompanied by the most amazing food you ever tasted. After an amazing trip you wondered what life would be like to live in Tuscany.

The author and his wife Candace get to explore what life is like living as a local in Tuscany. First renting a place to find the farm home they have always wanted. To finding food out in nature and purchasing the best of towns around them.

You encounter the people
David Lumpkin
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ferenc Máté writes with an artist’s paint brush placing vividly colored oils upon the each page of this book. His enthusiastic words paint brilliant pictures of his daily life and adventures in Tuscany. His passion is unmatched as he writes of the land, the towns, the buildings and especially the wonderfully diverse people, his friends.

I started this book and immediately dreaded getting to the last page. What a wonderfully entertaining journey it has been. Needless to say, I loved this book and
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First time reviewer. I am totally fascinated with Tuscany. Not having been there yet, I am filling this absence with books and movies of this bucolic region. Ferenc Máté allowed me to feel as if I have already visited it with his wonderful descriptions. “Skylarks hovered and trilled their solitary tune. The wind ripples the wheat like long waves of the sea”; “ A despot heat fettered the valley” are all examples of his style. I have never seen the adjective word “despot” used with heat before but ...more
Andrea Wright
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely little story of finding a home in Tuscany and becoming a local. Just what I needed for a bit of travel relaxation.
I've read A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream ("book two") before this book, and somehow, this worked against me.

You don't necessarily have to read Máté's books in order. Basically the first book tells the story of Ferenc Máté and his wife Candace giving up their nomad lifestyle to settle down in Tuscany. The second book, taking place a few years later, sees them selling their home to open up a vineyard and make their own wine.

Both books are brilliant in describing the beautiful Tuscan l
Adrienne Manwaring
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sweet little story with fantastic descriptions of the people, food and places in Tuscany.
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“One by one we emptied the bottles of wine in our tiny cantina, and little by little we learned about Tuscany—its hills, its light, its food and wine, and most importantly its simple, passionate, in-love-with-life people. And, almost in spite of ourselves, we learned to live and enjoy life as the Tuscans do—piano, piano, con calma [slowly, slowly, with calm].”

These are some of the concluding words that Ferenc Máté writes in his memoir The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land (1998). They
Oct 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love reading about Italy, but I'm beginning to realize that the reason these authors live such a charmed life in Tuscany and paint such glorious pictures is because they don't have to worry about the typical 9-5 job that bogs most individuals down. Their job is to enjoy the land, meet the people, and record it in such a way that makes any reader's heart melt. And I'm ok with that, but after an Italy-loving friend returned from Tuscany after being there for a month and said, "I could never live ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo, 2015, reviewed
Ah, Tuscany! I love you so. I have armchair traveled there many times, and will visit in person someday.

I loved reading about how one couple relocated to a small village in Tuscany and learned to live among the locals. I read with jealousy how they simplified their lives and settled into the slower routine. I would love to be able to do something similar someday. Whenever I read about Tuscany, something pulls at my soul. Having no Italian blood in my heritage, I find it odd, so it must be my sou
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Made me long for a return trip to Tuscany. Equally enchanting and overwritten. Long descriptions of the Tuscan countryside, which no doubt stirs inspiration when witnessed in the first person, however the author's poetic ramblings about it quickly became tedious. "Ghosting" as a verb was new to me and repeated every few chapters, as if repetition could reinforce word choice. Hills frequently undulated. Roads/trails/paths often meandered. Maybe I was impatient because having made my first visit l ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel-memoirs
I loved the concept of this book, however the Author never really engaged me. I found the chapters quite disjointed, and it took FOREVER to get to the main point ie... the farmhouse. I loved their neighbors, Nonna and Paolucci and reading about the simple but fulfilling lifestyle they enjoyed and I can well understand the authors desire to do the same. There is nothing like making your own wine, growing your own olives and going fungi hunting.
Making our way through Montepulciano was so enjoyable
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Italy
Author Ferenc Mate and his wife Candace did what many of us would to – moved to a country where the food, wine and ambiance leaves you with a permanent vacation state of mind. OK, maybe that didn’t happen to them but I would wager it could be that way for me and my husband. Tuscany. Just stating Tuscany evokes images of rolling green hills, vineyards, small local cafes serving strong coffee and homemade pastries....

Full review and photos may be found at Novel Meals:
Mary Wallace
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting that there is so much repetition of words, to the point of annoyance... 'autumn' is in so many of the first paragraphs, autumn light, autumn this, autumn that. I know it's autumn.

A friend picked this up and read the first few pages and said there was a lot of 'shiny language'. In this book is a lovely day to day story of living within a closed community in Italy. I loved it for that. I liked the characterizations of the locals and the descriptions of daily wanderings over hills and t
Jill Mulligan
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book did not really have a storyline but that's part of why I loved it. It took me forever to read and in between reading other books I would come back to it for a few chapters feeling as though I didn't miss a thing. Whenever I wanted I could easily revisit the sights, sounds, and especially the tastes of Tuscany. This book made me want to go even more than I already wanted to but while reading it made me feel I was already there because of how descriptive it was. I didn't love it for the ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a new author for me. I picked this book because it was about Tuscany. It was delightful to read. I not only learned some interesting facts about places in Tuscany but also some Italian words and phrases by reading this book. The author gives you a feel for the place, the people and what happens during the different seasons in Tuscany and what it is like to live there. I am even more excited now to go to some of the places mentioned in the book. I will be interested in reading some of th ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
The book is full of descriptions of beautiful scenery, fine food and rustic locals. That's enough for it to be a winner for many people. However, there’s something false about this “true” story. The people in it are not quite real, more like portraits on a pretty canvass. As for the situations he described, they sound contrived. For example, his wife can speak Italian and he can’t, but he goes to the real estate agent to buy a house while his wife stays home!
Sherill Leonardi
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
With open hearts and minds, a couple decides to shed their old life and relocate to the Tuscan countryside. Filled insight and gentle humor their journey is an immersion into the rich sensory pleasures of each season as well as a slower, more thoughtful way of life.

This beautifully written memoir invites the reader to step away from the daily headlines and reminds us that there's a tremendous amount of good in this world.
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I can't go live in Europe myself (at least not right now:) I have to settle for reading about it. This lighthearted memoir of the author and his wife as they give up their world travels and look to dwelling permanently in the Tuscan hills. He chronicles his experiences in not speaking the language, exploring the territory with his neighbors, new foods, challenges of remodeling an ancient cottage in the middle of nowhere - makes for a delight read in my opinion.
Donna DeKeyrel
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it I am reading this book while IN how could I not love it!? I wish we were brave enough (and had the funds!!!) to do what they did. It sounds so romantic and peaceful. Made me a little sad that I am in the walls of Lucca.....and not in the country. But only a little. Especially since I do not have a car....only public transit.

The author does make the life sound so simple while I know there are MANY frustrations. Still......
Joyce Harmon
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who dreams of going to Tuscany
This is not "Under the Tuscan Sun." First of all, it is much better (I've read both because I WILL go to Tuscany before I am cremated with my copy of Dandelion Wine)and secondly, it's about ordinary people (with a little money obviously)not a professor from CA who only lives part time in Tuscany.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read the vineyard book first and tripped over this in a thrift store. As long as you aren't the type of person who is easily persuaded, the book is a fun introduction to the author and his love affair with Tuscany and his wife. Having traveled there before it definitely entices me back; much better than Mayes who I find to be entirely too entitled.
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a true story about a couple who move to Tuscany, find a place to buy, and what happens to them along the way. Lots of description of the countryside, the food, and the people they encounter. It's a cute story, easy to read, and it made me long for a life in the country filled with lots of wine, cheese, bread, and olive oil :)
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Others really hated this book, but for some reason I liked it. A little Tuscan escape. Got my mind thinking & wondering. Got reminded of taking a step away from your constant day-to-day chaos to realize more what is truly important and enjoying simple things. Definitely made me want to have my own adventure of exploring some new far off place by the end.
Apr 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I've read quite a few new and old books about travels and/or life in Italy and this is probably my favorite. This is a sweet book - funny, witty and loving. In my opinion it beats the Tuscan Sun books by a mile.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy
Quite enjoyable, if not an original premise. Expat moves to Tuscany, builds idylic simple life. Lots of authors have done this, but Mate better than most. Enjoyable, just irreverent enough to not be sappy.
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Ferenc Máté has made a career of out documenting his own quests—whether it’s restoring a Tuscan ruin, building a vineyard from scratch, or sailing the seven seas.

Born in Transylvania, he escaped at age eleven when the Hungarian revolution was crushed by Soviet tanks. He grew up in Vancouver and has lived in California, Paris, Rome, the Bahamas and New York. He has worked on a railroad extra-gang a
More about Ferenc Máté

Other Books in the Series

The Tuscan Trilogy (4 books)
  • A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream
  • The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security & the Good Life - Making the Tuscan Lifestyle Your Own
  • The Tuscan Trilogy: The Hills of Tuscany / A Vineyard in Tuscany / The Wisdom of Tuscany