Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Italian Memoirs #2

A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure

Rate this book
They had met and married on perilously short acquaintance, she an American chef and food writer, he a Venetian banker. Now they were taking another audacious leap, unstitching their ties with exquisite Venice to live in a roughly renovated stable in Tuscany.

Once again, it was love at first sight. Love for the timeless countryside and the ancient village of San Casciano dei Bagni, for the local vintage and the magnificent cooking, for the Tuscan sky and the friendly church bells. Love especially for old Barlozzo, the village mago, who escorts the newcomers to Tuscany’s seasonal festivals; gives them roasted country bread drizzled with just-pressed olive oil; invites them to gather chestnuts, harvest grapes, hunt truffles; and teaches them to caress the simple pleasures of each precious day. It’s Barlozzo who guides them across the minefields of village history and into the warm and fiercely beating heart of love itself.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany is set in one of the most beautiful places on earth–and tucked into its fragrant corners are luscious recipes (including one for the only true bruschetta) directly from the author’s private collection.

368 pages, Paperback

First published November 1, 2004

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Marlena de Blasi

13 books246 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,154 (30%)
4 stars
2,429 (34%)
3 stars
1,861 (26%)
2 stars
432 (6%)
1 star
143 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 405 reviews
Profile Image for Negin.
613 reviews151 followers
February 11, 2018
I usually love reading about travel and food and I started out enjoying the descriptions of Tuscany, but then I got bored since there wasn’t much of a story. It was just a bit slow and boring for me. I also had a difficult time trying to understand some of the characters. In all fairness, the story did pick up a bit near the end.
I’m happy that I’ve learned how to properly pronounce bruschetta!
I’m not sure as to whether I will read more in this series. I think that I like the idea of her books more than the books themselves. The attractive covers help also!

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Look at that Tuscan landscape. This is where everyone in the world would like to live."

“Living in the moment and being content with one’s portion makes for the best of all lives.”

“Don’t be afraid of your children. If they’re going to love you, they’ll love you on their own, without your having to pander to them. If they’re not going to love you, there’s nothing to do about it.”
Profile Image for Poiema.
455 reviews68 followers
February 12, 2014
Smack dab in the midst of normal and predictable routine, a gypsy thought will sometimes flit through my mind. What would it be like to pull up stakes, travel to an idyllic vacation spot, and live a carefree life? That is exactly what Marlena De Blasi did. She is a kind of modern day gypsy, an American who traveled to Italy to do research for her cook book and ended up in Venice, fell madly in love and married, then moved to Tuscany to taste and touch and feel its earthy pleasures. This book is part travelogue, part memoir, with a dash of cooking thrown in. It's an ingredient list that somehow just works together and is very successful in allowing the reader to enjoy vicariously the pleasures she describes: the grape harvest, the making of olive oil, baking bread in a brick oven built according to ancient pattern, sharing history and birth and death with the locals. Marlena has a voracious appetite for life and is willing to get her fingernails dirty to experience it. I appreciate her full enjoyment of simple pleasures that revolve around hearth and food and loved ones. She has some deep thoughts, too, that go beyond momentary delight:

"Some people are afraid of joy. Terrified that they don't deserve it or that they won't be able to feel it should it ever come to visit. Mostly I think that people are terrified that joy won't stay, won't last."

I think this quote is possibly my favorite:
"Hell is where nothing is cooking and no one is waiting."

Marlena De Blasi lays on the descriptive phrases as heavy as her bright red lipstick. She definitely added color to the cold days of winter during which I was reading her book.

Profile Image for Tay.
29 reviews8 followers
July 22, 2013
I really wanted to like this book. There were some passages that I loved. But ultimately, I was let down because the book cannot decide what it wants to be.

Her choice of language occasionally left me puzzled, and pulled me away from the story, wondering if she cared more about her flowery language than telling her story.

The number of days began to bother me as I read, wondering why there was a limit when they were talking about putting down roots and staying - was there some disaster waiting around the corner to ruin everything? A glance at the Table of Contents show me Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. I began to obsess over the fact that there was no way that was going to come out to 1000 days.

This book isn't really travel, nor culture, nor cookbook, nor memoir --- though it brings some of these things, only to snatch them away just as you are beginning to enjoy them.

I was particularly let down by the end, which I won't spoil for you, except to say I do not read this type of book hoping to be depressed.

On the other hand, some passages were so beautiful that I will probably read the previous book, which I understand is more cohesive.

Profile Image for Mary.
22 reviews2 followers
February 26, 2012
I loved this book for many reasons. I wasn't inspired by the dishes she sensually described or the recipes she shared. I was inspired by how food united the people in the story. Through food they had culture, effervescence, togetherness and a bond. Through discovering/gathering food, breaking bread Marlena and Fernando were able to turn a grumpy old man into a loving, passionate friend and a dotting lover. Barlozzo took them on these adventures to these picking festivals in the fields, but he did it because of the fire in him ignited by Marlena and Fernando. It's beautiful how they were able to do that and vise versa. I loved Barlozzo's stories and even the tragedies he endured. It was heartbreaking learning how during his childhood, he and his family ate nothing but chestnuts, by making anything and everything from it. I never even knew you could make a chestnut bread...but hey you read and learn. It was also heartbreaking learning about why he never married Floriana. About how his father killed his mother not because she had taken a soldier lover, but because he couldn't get over the fact that she thought of him as second best. He never dared to love Floriana fully because he feared of being second best to her, as his father was second best to his mother. Once his mother knew she could no longer be with his fathers brother, she settled with his father. It also turned out that Barlozzo was his fathers brothers son as well. It was touching how finally through Floriana's last moments in life, he had the guts to commit to her and give her the life she had always wanted with him. I also loved the all women party they had at Floriana's apartment... When a woman of over seventy danced with her eyes closed, as if taking herself back to her youth. One day I'd be lucky to find a bond with the kind of women from that village in Tuscany. I bet there's nothing like having wine with the girls, dancing the night away and sharing philosophies about life... All in all, this book made me love people again, have hope that I can one day have the bond these villagers had, meet inspiring people like Barlozzo and Floriana, live life to the fullest and most of all appreciate the life I've been given because others have it way worse than I do.
Profile Image for Alissa.
508 reviews6 followers
March 6, 2008
Yeah, she is REALLY getting on my nerves this time around. I just read where she made a dress from drapes. Drapes, people!

I also just read where one Italian man--known as the "duke"--asks her why her food is salty and sweet, and she says--dramatic pause--"Because life tastes like that."

Profile Image for Ikebukuro.
152 reviews52 followers
July 11, 2013
Un livre qui m'a rappelé l'atmosphère du roman "Sous le soleil de Toscane" de Frances Mayes tout en étant complètement différent. C'est une histoire pleine de charme qui invite à une certaine nonchalance dans ce village où il fait bon vivre et qui donne au lecteur des envies de sieste sous les figuiers, de tomates au basilic, d'huile d'olives et de pain frais. C'est un livre qui incite à la rêverie et à la paresse. On va suivre au fil des pages, Marlena et son mari ancien employé de banque qui décident de changer de vie et de quitter Venise pour s'installer dans un petit village Toscan où ils louent une maison. Les personnages hauts en couleurs ont la force de caractère des gens de la terre et sont particulièrement attachants. J'ai beaucoup aimé suivre l'installation de Marlena et de son mari dans cette maison et dans cette nouvelle vie, leur intégration auprès des villageois, leur acclimatation, leurs envies… La construction du récit m'a beaucoup plu, tout particulièrement les recettes intégrées à l'histoire qui font saliver le lecteur et lui donne envie de partir découvrir cette région de Toscane et sa gastronomie. La gourmande que je suis était plus que ravie de cette débaûche de parfums et de saveurs. C'est un récit gourmand, qui fait la part belle aux ingrédients de la cuisine toscane et à la convivialité, plein d'optimisme et qui fait du bien.

Tout en simplicité et en sincérité l'histoire met en scène tous les petits bonheurs du quotidien : partager une bonne table avec les gens que l'on aime, admirer la lumière du matin, s'enthousiasmer pour la saveur d'un plat réussi… Ce livre fait l'éloge des choses vraies, d'un retour aux fondamentaux de la vie et des petites attentions à la portée de chacun. L'auteur a tout à fait réussi à partager ses émotions, c'est lumineux, plein de soleil, charmant et attendrissant, on est ému aux larmes avec certains personnages et on rit de certaines situations. Ce récit est un vrai playdoyer pour les petites choses qui participent au bonheur, un hymne à la simplicité dans les rapports aux autres, dans le fait de savoir faire la part des choses pour se consacrer à l'essentiel et se fixer sur ce qui en vaut vraiment la peine. J'ai beaucoup aimé les personnages secondaires, bien marqués par leurs caractères, ils ont l'élégance des gens qui connaissent la valeur des choses, le sens de l'amitié et de l'accueil ils répondent présents pour Marlena et son mari dès leur installation. Pourtant tout n'est pas rose non plus, la vie n'est pas si facile quand on a tout quitté et que l'on ne sait pas de quoi sera fait le lendemain et le couple a des doutes et des incertitudes quant à son futur mais l'optimisme reprend ses droits malgré les peines et les coups durs, plein d'espoir quand à l'avenir...
Profile Image for Lori.
852 reviews31 followers
July 25, 2009
This was just about the perfect book for me. I enjoyed this more than her first book, A Thousand Days in Venice which was good. This combined one of my favorite regions in the world with a wonderful exploration of the food and culture of that region. I felt the heat of the sun while she harvested grapes and I could smell the rosemary she loved to add to her cooking fire. I don't know if this book was so perfect for me because I was reading it in from an ideal place (on a deserted beach on a Caribbean Island) or because it is simply a perfect escape book. Whichever it is, I smile and sigh every time I think back on this delightful read.
Profile Image for Karen.
505 reviews49 followers
October 4, 2018
I just returned from a wonderful week in Tuscany and I didn't want the memories to fade yet, as all vacation do. I remembered that I had this book sitting on my TBR stack since it was first published in 2004. I thought this is a perfect book to keep me in Tuscany for a bit longer. What a treat! I loved how the author included recipes at the end of each chapter. This was the right time to read this book. Lesson learned, sometimes there is a reason books sit on my bookshelf so long, they are waiting for just the right moment to be read and cherished.

Io amo l'Italia -I love Italy!!!!
38 reviews
September 8, 2009
If anything, this is more beautiful than its predecessor, A Thousand Days in Venice. De Blasi captures life in a small town in Italy and the people who inhabit it with prose that makes you weep and laugh as much as her descriptions of the food make you salivate.
Profile Image for Janet.
72 reviews
July 6, 2009
Don't expect this to be a literary sensation but I thought that this tale achieved what it set out to acheive.

At first the author's griping at having to relocate from Venice to Tuscany to fulfil her husband's desire to escape his Venice banking life grated somewhat. Doesn't she know how lucky she is? However, her growing sense love for the new part of Italy soon began to shine through as she throws herself into the life of the community. The author has journalism and food criticism background, so food is very much at the forefront of this memoir but there's human interest thrown into the mix too, in partiuclar her relationship with the local self appointed community leader, 'The Duke'. The revelation at the end of the book is quite astounding and moving.

I enjoyed this little tale of Tuscany, it transported me away quite nicely on those train trips to and from the City.
Profile Image for Asya Karaivanova.
10 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2014
Приятна изненада се оказа тази книга, попаднала случайно при мен. Видът и анотациите отзад предполагат да се чете поредната лигава боза, пълна с лИбоФ. Но ако има любов в тази книга, то това е любовта към храната, виното и тосканското слънце, към простичкия живот, пълен с хармония. Книгата не е за хора на диета, детайлните описания на хранителните навици и ритуали, както и подробните рецепти вътре изкушават всеки човек да пожелае не само да опита тази храна, но да го направи точно там, в Тоскана.
Четенето е леко и приятно, внушенията, които авторката предлага, не тежат и не пречат.
Най-добрата реклама на Тоскана, която би могла да бъде направена, е именно тази книга, и ако случайно разбера, че писателката не е живяла там поне за малко, ако описанията са плод на само на ровичкане в интернет, ще се почувствам измамена, толкова истинско и лично преживяно изглежда всичко.
Profile Image for Patrice Sartor.
880 reviews13 followers
September 8, 2011
I got to page 34 before giving up, and it wasn't a quick and easy time to get even those few pages done. While the description of the food was fine, I simply did not care for De Blasi's writing style. It felt overly slow and dull to me.
Profile Image for Cerys Hadwin-Owen.
4 reviews2 followers
August 4, 2017
I LOVE anything Italian, especially 'Under the Tuscan Sun' type books, but this was beyond dry. Everyone loves an 'escape to the Tuscan hills' type story, but there was so little substance here, and it centred entirely around food and cliched repeated descriptions of bubbling pots and juicy tomatoes and glistening olive oil - and nothing else. I read this in Italy, and was really in the mood for some proper escapism, but I can only read about so many freshly harvested Tuscan feasts on repeat. I got really, really bored and gave up halfway through.
Profile Image for Debra.
478 reviews16 followers
November 15, 2016
I am a sucker for the continuation of De Blasi’s story. (See A Thousand Days in Venice in my Foodie Read list).
Profile Image for LindyLouMac.
866 reviews63 followers
May 25, 2008
In search of a new life Fernando cuts all his ties with his birthplace Venice and takes his wife Marlena to live in Tuscany. She is not keen to leave the Venice she loves but understands her husbands desire to leave the demons that trouble him behind. Will this new beginning work for them or will his melancholy follow them.
They settle in the small village of San Casciano dei Bagni near the borders of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio meet. Life is still ruled here as it has been for centuries by the seasons and the foods available around them. They become very close to two locals Barlozzo and Floriana and through them learn of the rhythms of life and love in a Tuscan village. As the story of these two couples unfolds it puts life into perspective for the four of them.

It appealed to me because of my own love of Italy and all things Italian, some of the episodes were oh so familiar; particularly as I know the region Marlena is writing about and have sampled similar dishes to those she includes recipes for at the end of each chapter.
However unless you are a dedicated Italiaphile I feel you may find this is just another Life in Tuscany book. Very similar to the many others available and does not particularly stand out from the crowd apart from some of Marlena de Blasi’s poetic prose.
Profile Image for Cheyenne.
7 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2016
Interesting read. Hard book to rate. I love much of the descriptive verses of food and scenery. I love her images of Venice... but, I just could not accept the entire concept of her relationship or his personality as described. She talks about this wonderful connection they have and then goes on to talk about how controlling he is and so very strange. This is supposed to be a story of how she actually fell in love and moved to Italy giving up all she knew. It just doesn't ring true or accurate in so many ways. If it was presented as fiction I may have enjoyed it more completely, thinking that our female character was in some kind of mental and emotional crisis hence all the inconsistencies. I have such mixed feeling about this one. I like the observations of her new city, the food, the local characters, and yet not the story they are written into about her love affair and marriage. There is such a disconnect. It stopped me short of becoming engaged in the love story and her life changes. As I love Italy and am always interested in gastronomic adventures I am glad I read it. Would I recommend it, to certain readers I know, yes.
Profile Image for ELDEE.
243 reviews
January 19, 2019
As with all Italian memoirs, it is about the FOOD and the culture. The author has a talent of making you feel present and hungry for the wines, olive oil, and regional food. You find yourself desiring dishes you normally wouldn't eat! The fresher and the more simplistic the better.
I found many times the author philosophized maybe too much and the story bogged down. She considers this publication a follow-up to "A Thousand Days in Venice". You feel at times that events had been written already. It was an enjoyable read.

Profile Image for Laurie .
317 reviews
June 3, 2017
I have read all of De Blasi's books. Loved them all. Not this one. It is one of her earlier books,maybe that is why. THAT SUMMER IN SICILY is my favorite tho. Her books are slow to get into but quite enjoyable.This particular book,Tuscany was slow thru the entire book. If you want a good book, Try the Sicily book, also slow to build but a lovely read and perfect for summer also.
7 reviews
October 21, 2009
I am finding it really hard to get into this book. I'll keep trying.
Profile Image for Audrey.
7 reviews
March 6, 2021
When I read Under The Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes, I put a trip to Tuscany on my bucket list. Marlena de Blasi has renewed my need to visit this place with A Thousand Days In Tuscany. I long to spend time in such a community. One where residents have communal meals and take care of each other. To step back into a simpler time and share good food and wine and life with each other. Beautifully written.
Profile Image for Callie Hornbuckle.
465 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2019
I enjoyed this memoir about an ex-pat living in Italy more than its predecessor: A Thousand Days in Venice. The author’s flowery, almost over the top language felt almost corny in Venice, which was primarily a love story. In this book she deals with friendships and loss, and her word usage is better suited. And, as before, her food descriptions are top notch
Profile Image for Prestoni.
184 reviews
October 1, 2017
Beautifully written this travel book of glorious food, life and love in a Tuscan village is inspiring and jealousy inducing. Inspirational and alluring. I want to cook all the food she speaks about, experience the harvests and foraging and all besides.
I would very much like to be a part of it!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
86 reviews
November 21, 2019
One of the most lush, romantic, delicious books I've ever read.
I don't know if food will ever taste good again after reading her magical story.
Profile Image for Mae Lender.
Author 20 books93 followers
July 24, 2020
Aegu tagasi meeldisid need raamatud mulle vägagi, sest eks "seal" tundus ikka ilusam ja ägedam ja ehedam... Nüüdseks olen aru saanud, et see, mis mind taoliste raamatute puhul kõnetas, on olemas kõikjal. Ka "siin", kus iganes see "siin" kellegi jaoks ka parasjagu on. Mõtlen viimastele aastatele Soonlepas, või ka nädalatele, ja pean nentima, et seesugust elu on võimalik ka ise elada.
Aga ega see teistkordne lugemine oligi mõeldud rohkem kergeks suviseks vahepalaks.
Profile Image for Sue Dix.
539 reviews20 followers
April 19, 2017
The descriptions of the people and the countryside are just as delicious as the descriptions of the food, and the recipes will make your mouth water. A thoroughly enjoyable, and as the title says, bittersweet adventure.
Profile Image for Elena.
585 reviews4 followers
October 1, 2019
An American chef and her Venetian husband leave the comfort of a stable job in Venice to rent out a home in a quaint village in Tuscany that used to be a stable. They befriend a sage-like elderly man named Barlazzo, who can sometimes be cantankerous, but it’s worth it because of the rich knowledge he possesses if the region’s history. Together with him, they embark on adventures, most of them culinary, and live the simple, rural life of Tuscany, immersing themselves it all its delights. This memoir is slow-moving at times as she reflects on such topics as love, career path changes, and the magic of a shared meal, but also picks up the pace, such as when they’re exploring nearby woodlands to hunt for mushrooms. Her writing is eloquent and fresh without being too flowery. I greatly enjoy travel memoirs and this is one I’m glad I picked up!
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,216 reviews61 followers
December 20, 2013
This is a book about food. Really. Ok, well maybe it's a book about Italian culture too. But there's a lot of food in it.

Three years after marrying her husband in Venice, Marlena is apprehensive when they sell everything and move to Tuscany. Here they have no job, are renting a house, but they quickly become adapted to village life and make a few friends. One of these is a man who used to live in their house long ago and is a great source of help on projects from making a bread oven to harvesting grapes. And of course, the entire time that they're living there, there is a lot of food and cooking going on.

Marlena describes her husband in favorable terms most of the time. But does share that he has a quicksilver aspect of his personality which gets him gloomy. In fact, most of the Italian men Marlena encounters (and one Russian) seem to have this trait. She herself, while the narrator, doesn't go beyond describing herself in terms of clothes and the food she's eating. She is very focused on clothes. In fact, the person who gets the most description is probably Barlozzo, the man who used to live in their house. He is kind of a funny character but seems to have a good heart.

I'm not sure where the thousand days part of this book came into play. It seems to span only a year. I'm guessing it was just a naming convention passed on from one of her other books. I loved all the descriptions of the food (and the recipes included are mouth watering as well). It was really that part of the book that shined. She had good material to work with though with all the local produce and markets. The actual renovation of the house and grounds I wasn't as interested in. But her stories of the people in the village were good and you really cared about what happened to the people and how their lives were going.

A nice book about travel/living in Italy in the Tuscany region. I'm sure most who enjoy other such books will take to this one with no problem. It seems to fit that whole genre of woman moves to Tuscany and finds love and food.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany
Copyright 2004
325 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2013

More of my reviews can be found at www.ifithaswords.blogspot.com
Displaying 1 - 30 of 405 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.