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Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Frances Mayes
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Produktbeschreibungen

Amazon.de

Often the most fascinating memoirs are written by people who seem to be quite unaware that they are actually monsters. Frances Mayes' entertainingly egocentric Bella Tuscany, the sequel to her best-selling Under the Tuscan Sun, nudges into this category. Like its predecessor, a lyrical account of an American teacher of creative writing's insertion of herself into Tuscan life and the Tuscan landscape, Bella Tuscany (shouldn't that be Bella Toscana, or is something to be inferred about the intended readership?) is a sustained, ecstatic trill of cypresses, dusty, immemorial hillsides and tile-roofed hill towns. With hunky husband Ed, Frances restores her farmhouse, plants flowers and grows vegetables, cooks, travels and generally swans about Italy, in the process transforming it into a vehicle for her glowing sensibilities. Occasionally she speculates briefly about those she encounters on the way--about the old farmers who tend her olive trees, about the Nigerian prostitutes surreally stationed along a lonely rural road by the Russian mafia--but the beam of her attention barely flickers. There is a telling moment early on: she looks out of the window; the landscape reveals itself for her to love. It is as though the whole of Tuscany, no, the whole of Italy is laid out for her benefit, for those exquisite Martha Stewart moments. And people are so kind: they just can't resist bestowing gifts on her. The lady at the nursery rushes out with a plant. The shy owner of the perfumery shop in town turns out to have paid for her cappuccino. Anselmo who manages their vegetable garden presents them with his wine-press. "This gentle courtesy happens frequently." Far more than any possible reader, she is an enthralled spectator of the pageant of her gorgeous life, which she is generous enough to share. One doesn't begrudge it her one bit. One reads, fascinated, then makes one's holiday plans for somewhere else. --Robin Davidson -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Pressestimmen

"A love letter to Italy written in precise and passionate language of near poetic density...A book to treasure, as the author so clearly treasures the life she engraves on our hearts."
--Susan Jacoby, Newsday

"Fall in love again with the charming people and countryside of Cortona in this evocative follow-up to Under the Tuscan Sun."
--People

"Mayes displays a gift for conveying everyday life through her writing...Perfect for those with the yen but not the means for a second home...Mayes presents a simpler, less frantic version of how to live one's life."
--USA Today

"Frances Mayes is, before all else, a wonderful writer...She never loses sight of the fact that millenniums-old Tuscany, with its immemorial customs and folkways, is not to be domesticated or made familiar.  Her Italy remains intransigently foreign, exotic, a continuing revelation of strangeness and unexpected beauties."
--Chicago Tribune

Werbetext

The endearing author whose bestseller made the world fall in love with Tuscany invites us back for an enchanting new season of friendship, festivity and food there and throughout Italy. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

Synopsis

Mayes invites us back to Tuscany for a new season of friendship, festivity and food. She is now truly at home, learning a new language and touring neighbouring towns, villages and islands, delving into gardening, wine-making and the experience of primavera. A section of recipes from her kitchen is included. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Buchrückseite

Continuing Frances Mayes's account of her love affair with Italy, Bella Tuscany presents the author now truly at home there, meeting the challenges of learning a new language and touring regions outside Tuscany, including castle towns, fishing villages and islands. With fresh adventures and updates on the characters introduced in Under the Tuscan Sun, she also explores new themes in this wondrous corner of the world, delving into gardening, wine-making, and the experience of primavera - a season of renewed possibility. And Frances Mayes reveals more simple pleasures from her Tuscan kitchen in a section devoted to recipes. In the sensuous, vivid prose that has become her hallmark, Bella Tuscany celebrates the author's deepening connection to the land and her flourishing friendships in a new-found haven of idyllic living. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Every Day in Tuscany, FRANCES MAYES is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the World; the illustrated books In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany HomeSwan, a novel; The Discovery of Poetry, a text for readers; five books of poetry; and most recently a southern memoir, Under Magnolia.  She divides her time between homes in Italy and North Carolina.  Visit France Mayes’s blog at www.francesmayesbooks.com.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Primavera

Fortunate that cypress shadows fall in wide bands across the sunlit road; fortunate that on the first day back in Cortona I see a carpenter carrying boards, his tabby cat balanced on his shoulders, tail straight up, riding like a surfer. The carpenter tosses the wood on sawhorses and begins to whistle. The cat bends and leans as he moves--a working cat. I watch for a few moments then walk on into town for a cappuccino. Thank you, I think. Fortunate that yellow blazes of forsythia light the hills. After seven summers on this terraced land, Ed and I feel a rush of happiness on turning the front-door key. I'm enchanted by the rounded Apennines, this quirky house that takes in the sun, and the daily rhythms of life in a Tuscan hilltown. He's far in love with the land. By now he knows the habits of every olive tree.

Fortunate. Otherwise, we might want to post a For Sale sign on the gate ten minutes after arrival because neither well pump is working: a grinding noise in the switch for the old well, a buzz for the new well. We peer into the cistern--at least there's enough water for a few days.

When the pump went down into the new well six years ago, I never expected to see it again. Now, on our first morning, three plumbers are hauling up ropes, their heads down the well. It's a beast. Then Giacomo stands on the well wall, the others beside him. They're counting, uno, due, tre, giving the heave-ho. Soon they're stripped to their pants, cursing and laughing. Up it comes, and Giacomo almost falls backward. They carry it to the truck.

The old well's pump--replaced just last year--they yank out easily. The contraption comes up with fig roots dangling and is pronounced dead on arrival. Why? They begin to dig for wires. By noon, the walkway is torn up, the lawn is carved into ditches and the mystery is solved. Mice have eaten the insulation around the wires. Why would they eat plastic when they can eat hazelnuts and almonds? The pumps have shorted out.

The new well's pump, it turns out, is also dead. Fizzled. Kaput. By the third day, we have new pumps, new wires sealed with silicone, which the original electrician neglected to do, lots of water, a patched walkway, and a depleted bank account. If mice eat plastic, what's to keep them from eating silicone?

Fortunate that we are served pheasant with roasted potatoes for dinner at the trattoria up the mountain, and that the early March dark spills forth a million twirling stars, because otherwise Ed's scrawled list might seem daunting: new grass, prune trees, build a shed for tools, remodel two old bathrooms, new septic system, paint shutters, buy desk and something with space to hang clothes, plant trees, extend garden.



Primo Bianchi, a stonemason who has done extensive work here during our restoration, arrives to discuss the projects. He can start in July. "I was on your roof in January," he tells us. "Your friend Donatella called and said there was a leak." We've seen the dripping stain on the yellow wall of my study. "It was the wind. You lost some tiles. When I was working in the afternoon, the wind came again and blew down my ladder."

"Oh, no!"

He laughs, pointing both forefingers at the ground, that gesture meaning Let it not happen here. Dark comes early in winter. I imagine him, his back against the chimney, sitting on the cold tiles, his pale blue eyes squinting at the road below, the wind standing his hair on end. "I waited. No one came by. Then a car but he did not hear me. After perhaps two hours a woman walked by and I called for help. This house was empty so long--she thought I was a spirit and let out a scream when she saw me waving on the roof. You need to think of a new roof soon."

He walks off a measurement of pipes we'll need for the new drainage system. It looks like a plan for trench warfare. "Hurry and order the furnishings for the bathrooms if you want everything here by July."

Fortunate that the place is restored--central heating, new doors, finished kitchen, one lovely bath, refinished beams, barrels of new paint, rebuilt stone walls, refitted cantina for oil and wine. Otherwise, these new projects might seem like restoration itself. "You may think you're through with old houses," Primo tells us, "but they are never through with you."

Soft spring air, an elixir of joy simply to breathe in and out. Quick streams are opening on the terraces. I take off my shoes and let the cold, cold water bathe my feet. The rocky hillsides sprout ferns, glossy green. A new lizard runs across my toes and I feel the clutch of the tiny feet.



Primavera, first green, and the wet grasses shine. A European spring, my first. I only have read of Proust's chestnuts flowering, Nabokov's linden lanes, Colette's double-red violets. But no one ever told me about quince, their sudden pink flares against stone walls. No one said the spring winds can turn murderous. No one mentioned lilac, and somehow during my summers in Italy, I never noticed the heart-shaped leaves. Now I see the Tuscan hills spattered with enormous white or smoky-lavender bushes. Near our house, a hedge of lilac leads to an abandoned farm, and in the rain I cut wet armfuls to fill all my pitchers and vases. More than any flower, the mesmerizing perfume seems to be the very scent of memory, hauling me back to college in Virginia and my first breath of lilac, which didn't grow in the warm latitude of my childhood home in Georgia. I remember thinking, How could I have lived eighteen years without knowing this? I had a terrible crush on my philosophy professor, married with three children, and over and over I played Harry Bellafonte, Green grow the lilacs all sparkling with dew. My dorm window overlooked the James River through a tangle of brush. Springtime is here and it's here without you. That my professor wore drip-dry shirts I crassly blamed on his wife; that he combed a long strand of hair over his pate I tried to ignore.

Violets, the suffocatingly sweet-scented ones, bloom along the spontaneous springs. Naturalized double daffodils, tromboni in Italian, mass along the terrace edges. The faint mists of hawthorn (biancospino, white thorn, or, locally, topospino, mouse-pricker) drift along the upper terraces and, below, the fruit trees continue to outdo themselves. We won't mow--the luxurious grass is overtaken by white camomile and marguerites.

What is this happiness that keeps coming in waves? Time, the gift of time, the free running of time--and Italy owns so much of it. Being from the South, I'm used to people talking about The War Between the States as though it were a decade ago. In the South the long dead and buried are talked about, too. Sometimes I thought Mother Mayes would come walking in the door again, bringing back her powdery lavender scent, her spongy body I could feel beneath the voile print dress. Here, it's Hannibal. Hannibal, who passed this way and fought the Roman Flaminio in 217 B.C.  All the hilltowns celebrate jousts or weddings or battles which occurred hundreds of years ago. Maybe having so much time behind them contributes to the different sense I absorb in Italy. Gradually, I fall into time. At home in California, I operate against time. My agenda, stuffed with notes and business cards, is always with me, each day scribbled with appointments. Sometimes when I look at the week coming up, I know that I simply have to walk through it. To be that booked-up, blocked-in feels depleting. When I make the weekly list of what needs to be accomplished, I know I'll be running double-time to catch up. I don't have time to see my friends and sometimes when I do, I'm hoping to cut it short because I need to get back to...
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