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The Lady in the Palazzo: An Umbrian Love Story (Italian Memoirs)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,207 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Marlena di Blasi seduced readers to fall in love with Venice, then Tuscany, with her popular and critically acclaimed books A Thousand Days in Venice and A Thousand Days in Tuscany. Now she takes readers on a journey into the heart of Orvieto, an ancient city in the less-trodden region of Umbria. Rich with history and a vivid sense of place, her tale is by turns romantic a ...more
ebook, 337 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Algonquin Books (first published 2006)
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Karie Yes, she has a daughter and a son, but from her previous marriage/s. As far as we know, she doesn't have children from Fernando. :-)
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Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Catherine Campanale
Marlena de Blasi paints pictures with words and draws emotions like no other. An entertaining Memoir.
Lauren K
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Pauff
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, travel, 2011-top-ten
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.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie-reads
I was on a de Blasi OCD binge for a while and read EVERYTHING. I cannot pick my favorite and some may find her style and voice a bit insipid, but I love her style, language, and descriptions of all things Italian (including the food).
Joanne Kos
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like Italy, you will love her books.
Farzana Friars
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must've put on at least 5 lbs by the time I finished reading this wonderfully entertaining book. I was inspired to visit many Italian bakeries for fresh bread and cheese and I drank more than my usual share of red wines.

Beautiful characters, places, foods and traditions.

I loved Marlena's writing; it was captivating and kept me engaged in every aspect of the stories she told.

May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is delicious! Umbrian love story filled with food, scenery and beautiful character. The writing is magic , before I knew it I was sitting under the stars eating puntarelle , wild grasses , boiled shined with anchovy sauce,scottadita , tiny lamb chops grilled over a hot grapevine fire .....
Mary Beth
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always like these books that have local food, people and places.
Ruth Chatlien
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this and hope to read more of her books. This was what I'd hoped to experience while reading Under the Tuscan Sun but didn't.
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My husband and I listened to this book on a rode trip. Her descriptions were rich and poetic. I was happy to have the readers Italian. The plot wasn’t compelling but it made the drive enjoyable.
 Laurie Hoffsmith
I read 2 of her memoirs; A Thousand Days in Venice, and A Thousand Days in Tuscany and loved them both. Her description of place transports you there with her and her husband, Fernando.
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
Althea Wynne-Davis
Do not read any Marlena de Blasi book while hungry. The descriptions of feasts – humble to extravagant – will make your stomach rebel and your mouth salivate.

Lady in the Palazzo has all the ingredients that made her other books such delicious reading experiences.

Foremost of course is the food (if you want to be inspired, if you lost the joy in cooking or eating (gasp!) hers are the books you need to read). Just take this simple meal, for instance:

"We are served a deep basin full of pale, yellow
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
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Cynthia Neale
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been to Orvieto, a sublime ancient Italian city above the cliffs of Umbria, I was eager to read this book by one of my favorite writers who writes of Italy and her food, culture, and history. And especially the food! This book is sensuous and de Blasi is an expert with prose that scintillates and creates the idea in your own head that you, too, can eat and live as robustly as she does. Perhaps cook as well, too, if only there were the fresh ingredients to be had that she finds while trave ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. The way it was written and the place it was set took me (in my mind) to a different place. Through the writing I could clearly picture the landscapes, seeing the people, smelling the food, feeling the heat of the sun on my skin. It just took me to a new place that I have never been to but would love to discover and experience. This was the last book in trilogy but the first book that I have read, so I look forward to reading the first books in series.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first read of Marlena De Blasi, and having recently taken my first trip to Italy and having visited Orvieto in Umbria and been charmed by it, I was intrigued when a book club friend offered up this book to me. I found the author's lyrical writing style mirrored the sensual food and wine of Italy that I had experienced first hand. I was fascinated by the many characters in this non-fiction rememberance, especially the author, who is American, and the Venetian, her husband, and how they ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Pavlik
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are heading to Umbria in the fall, and this book has already transported me there. Marlena's descriptions are detailed and food-focused, and perfect. Her writing lovingly honors the people and place, with remarkable insights and humor. Her storyline is almost cliche, as she and her newish Venetian husband rebuild a ruin, under the watchful eyes of the people of Orvieto. But her story is not cliche at all, in fact, there is so much more about the people, food and sights, and very little about ...more
Ann Chenhall
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book by Marlena deBlasi that I have read recently. First I shared her discovery of Venice, then a small Tuscan hamlet, and this time Orvieto, the ancient hill town in Umbria, and the surrounding areas. Each of her books is also the love story of her marriage to a handsome Italian aka Blueberry Eyes aka Fernando. Each time I have enjoyed the way she uses language to weave an understanding of place, characters, and food. This time I had a chance to better understand an Italian cl ...more
Teresa D
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lisa Brintlinger
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this as much as the book that comes before, A Thousand Days in Tuscany. This married couple (American woman and Venetian man) are buying a place in Orvieto and the book follows their trials and tribulations of getting and then finally moving into their home. Some of the characters continue their lives in this book from the previous one, recipes are shared, village life is expounded upon, the reader is satisfied. Savor it, enjoy!
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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.” 2 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?” 2 likes
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