A Thousand Days in Tuscany

Published By: Algonquin Books

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Biography & Autobiography

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Reviewed by Kathy Perschmann, Chanhassen (MN.) Librarian

Marlena de Blasi follows up her Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance, with her newest book, A Thousand Days in Tuscany.

This begins with the arrival of American food writer Marlena, and her Venetian husband Fernando, in the small Tuscan village of San Casciano de Bagni, where they rent an ancient farmhouse, with no telephone, central heat, or television. Fernando has given up his job in a Venetian bank; and they will be living on their small savings and Marlena's earnings for her writing.

Her children are grown and settled; now they are on their own grand adventure. On the day they move in, the villagers gather around, and help them clean and unpack; then there is an impromptu potluck party in the piazza around the town bar, with fired zucchini blossoms as the main feature. They become especially close to Floriana and old Barlozzo, who regales them with tales of the past; of instructions on how to bake, build an outdoor oven, gather and forage; and who imparts much of his wisdom.

We follow them when they harvest grapes for wine as well as figs, olives and chestnuts. They forage for spring greens and truffles and harvest eggs from under chickens. This is a beautifully constructed symphony of words, philosophy, sounds, scents, tastes, wonderful characters, beautiful rustic scenery, history, and of course love...love for Fernando, Floriana and Barlozzo, the villagers, the food, for Tuscany, for Italy, for life.

Interview with the author and reading group guide are located at the back of the book.

Armchair Interviews warns: You will immediately want to have wine with each meal, and drizzle bruschetta (brew-sket'-ah) with olive oil and a pinch of salt, and simmer some beans along with herbs and maybe some pancetta.

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