Happiness wherever

Author of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun,’ Frances Mayes, will be in town at the end of the month to discuss new work.

March 11, 2010|By Candice Baker

“A villa in Tuscany.”

For the past two decades, the phrase has been synonymous with the good life — the really good life. Think dappled sunlight, artfully crumbling edifices, the scent of fresh-cut herbs and a stellar bottle of Brunello.

One woman was almost solely responsible for many of our terracotta-hued daydreams. Frances Mayes first hit the collective consciousness with the publication of her now-iconic memoir, “Under the Tuscan Sun.”


The book went on to become a popular (although romanticized) film starring Diane Lane as Mayes, in her quest for simple abundance through the purchase and renovation of a dilapidated Tuscan farmhouse, Bramasole. As we say in the States, it had “good bones.”

Over the past 20 years, Mayes has released a slew of other Tuscan-inspired works, as well as a world travelogue and a novel. A former writing professor at San Francisco State, Mayes will appear in Newport Beach later this month to sign her newest book, “Every Day in Tuscany,” and discuss Italian life and writing.

“This is my third memoir about living in Italy. As the title suggests, it is very much a book about the particulars and pleasures of everyday life,” Mayes blogged earlier this month. “There are no chases, no drug deals, nothing more torrid than the fire in the bread oven. There is one horrid scrape with an ugly threat — but otherwise, what I am in love with is rural Tuscany: the friends, daily passions and celebrations of piazza life.”

In the book, Mayes also discusses Renaissance artist Luca Signorelli, and creates a “trail” for travelers to learn more about his life and work.

As usual, the memoir also includes recipes from Mayes — now an accomplished Italian chef — featuring names like Giusi’s Crespelle ai Porcini e Ricotta (Giusi’s porcini and ricotta crepes) and Torta di Suisine con Mandorle (plum tart).

Gardening, Mayes’ other major passion, also is woven throughout the tome.

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