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I thought I had our Italy itinerary set... until I found a new book by Frances Mayes

So, we're going to Italy next spring/early summer. We're taking the RS South Italy tour, then spending 10 - 14 days on our own. I'm thinking 3 or 4 nights in Siena, 3 or 4 nights in Bologna, maybe pop in to Florence or Orvieto....

And then I found "See You in the Piazza," a new book by Frances Mayes. She, her husband, and sometimes some other folks are traveling throughout Italy, and we are in trouble. Her descriptions of various towns, villages, and yes, even cities, are so seductive that I'm tempted to throw out all our plans and start over.

Her main loves are food, wine, and architecture. She's not a big art fan (I guess I can excuse that,) but her delightful prose is messing with my mind. I'm not even halfway through the book yet, and I'm in serious scheduling trouble.

But I do recommend the book, even if all your traveling is done in your armchair. Maybe especially if all your traveling is done in your armchair.

Enjoy!

Posted by
5534 posts

I wish I knew where she goes in Italy. Is there a list of places she includes in the book before you start reading?

Posted by
6001 posts

Thanks for the heads up Jane, I just put it on hold at my library. No plans for any Italy trips in the future but I love her writing.

Posted by
6001 posts

Suki, if you go to Amazon and search for the book and then click 'see inside' it gives you a table of contents with the regions and towns.

Posted by
501 posts

Jane, thanks for the heads up about the new Frances Mayes book, I love her books. As for your plans, go ahead and change them!!
There was very recently a thread on this forum about people reading books and then planning their trips so they can see the sites mentioned in the books. You'd be surprised how many people said they do that; and I must admit, I've done the same. So do it, I bet it would be fun.

Posted by
10148 posts

Thanks for the heads up on this book.

Posted by
1529 posts

Thanks, Jane. I have read all her books, she’s a delightful writer, also have seen her interviewed on TV. CBS Sunday Morning I think.

Did you know she’s originally from a little town in Georgia - Fitzgerald? A bit of trivia.

Posted by
3916 posts

Suki, Nancy nailed it. The table of contents lists the places she visits, although some of the essays go a bit beyond what's in the title. There's also an index, which I always appreciate. I had to look up "Stendhal Syndrome" the second time she used it.

"Stendhal Syndrome: Travelers who are ovetwhelmed by too much beauty
are in the grips of a state described in the nineteenth century by
Standhal... After contemplating a fresco in Florence, his character's
sensations and passions collided: 'I had palpitations... the life went
out of me.'"

Per Mayes: "Such travelers are in need of a break and a cold glass of water."

And did I mention there are recipes from the restaurants she visits? And even a recipe index. I'm having palpitations myself.

Posted by
7603 posts

Jane! You have to stop this incessant reading and informing yourself of what's "there", lolol!!

I first came across Stendhal Syndrome in a series by Alexander McCall Smith - his 44 Scotland Street books. One of the characters goes to Florence and gets Stendhal Syndrome and goes to recuperate in a local convent. Very funny. And yes, I had to look it up to see if it really was a Syndrome listed in the book that classifies psychiatric disorders, lol! (It's not - yet but they do treat people for it in Florence!)

Well, off to load this on my Kindle app. The awesome thing about the Kindle app is the dictionary function.

editing to add: Her farro salad recipe sound like one I sort of recreated after eating it in Padua! I'd kind of forgotten about it but the tomatoes are finally in here in N. Idaho and the basil is proliferating as well....sounds like dinner.

http://francesmayesbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/TuscanSunCookbook_57-Farro-salad.pdf

Posted by
1863 posts

Jane! Thanks for sharing this. I have enjoyed reading the Frances Mayes books. It brings back memories of visiting the places in previous books and taking cooking classes in Tuscany. I think Italy is calling us back to visit "off the beaten path" places! Definitely will add this book to my list! BTW our daughter was recently in Lazio visiting a friend who lives near the three mentioned towns in the index: Sabaudia, Sperlonga and Gaeta. She raved about the beauty of the coastal area. For her, it was a nice break from Rome and other large, crowded cities.

**Edit: Subsequent to previous posting I found out about 2 other scenic stops in the region: Sermoneta and Terracina. Roman ruins in Terracina! A popular vacation area for the Italians.

Posted by
11410 posts

"Such travelers are in need of a break and a cold glass of water."

Pish. I require something stronger than H2O to dispel a Stendhal meltdown
For medicinal purposes only, of course. 😉 🍺🍷
I tend to have multiple fits daily when in Italy.

Posted by
3280 posts

Jane, did you read "Under the Tuscan Sun"? Wonder how you would compare the writing of each. I found "Under the Tuscan Sun", kind of slow though I really enjoy the movie. (Incidentally, I might be late to the show, but the movie, "My house in Umbria", is very enjoyable, too) Your description of the new book sounds wonderful especially given my upcoming trip to the area. Would this be a book to borrow from the library or might I read/use it multiple times?

EDITED TO ADD--I just found this in my local library's "cloudlibrary" and I'm now browsing it. Easy to do if anyone wants to give this book a peek.

Posted by
35 posts

Yes! I happened upon it at my library a couple months back, and what a treat. I enjoy her writing style, and like you have my list of areas/places in Italy to explore expanded. I'm thinking a 90-day visit may be my only option. Italy continues to beckon.

Posted by
1260 posts

Rick interviewed Mayes on his radio show about this book a few months ago and I went out and bought it as I was about to leave for Italy. I'll dip into it again before my next trip. There's probably a link to that radio show on this site.

Posted by
3280 posts

If you have an iphone, you can get the Rick Steves Audio Europe App. From there you can access the RS interview of Frances Mayes. You can also download when you have wifi, many of the walking tours so you can play them when you are offline.

Posted by
5534 posts

I found the list of towns and cities visited by clicking on “Look Inside”. I have been to some of them and look forward to reading about the others.

Posted by
1366 posts

I'm heading to Terezin and Nuremberg, so I'm reading "IBM and the Holocaust." I can see that my next read needs to be Frances Mayes and a trip back to Italy. I'm 2nd in the queue at the library!

Posted by
3916 posts

Pam, as you know by now, I'm totally addicted to prepping for our next trip. I just picked up 3 more books at the library to add to the stack I already have.

Kathy, I agree; water doesn't help much. I prefer your remedy.

Jules M, I did read "Under the Tuscan Sun" some years ago, and remember I wasn't as crazy about it as most folks. I haven't seen the movie.

Janis, we were thinking about making a big loop, starting in Rome pre-tour, then heading north, then back down to the Rome area before flying home. The villages you mention may fit into our (extremely tentative) plans.

Posted by
7603 posts

Jane, I thought of you earlier while perusing FB and a Booklovers Meme popped up - Booklover Points. Very funny!

Posted by
2575 posts

I am reading this book now. I like her style. It makes my mind slow down and ponder the possibilities. But, I wonder what poetic license she has taken on some of these descriptions and just how much of their time revolves around eating? Certainly some folks will drive 20 kilometers for a restaurant or be satisfied with walking an off season beach, but many readers here are still on the first tier cities. These are seem to be 3rd or fourth tier towns. I don't think in my lifetime can I be this self indulgent for time and money on such out of the way places. Certainly need to suggest it for reading to the next 'off the beaten path' question.😁

Posted by
3280 posts

MariaF, re. poetic license by Frances Mayes, my impression is a lot, not that it matters so much to me. Did you catch the feature on Florence on CBS this morning? It was rebroadcast again this past Sunday. I've watched pieces of it online. Anyway, I only caught about 20 seconds as I was leaving the house, and there was an interview of Ms. Mayes. She was with her husband or partner and what I caught seem to indicate that at least as far as her love interest, that may not have been very accurate. BUT, I only caught that small portion and wasn't paying a lot of attention. Maybe you can catch the feature online.

Posted by
2575 posts

I don't have TV and not sure I can see CBS from Canada but check it out.
I also meant to say I tried an audiobook that she narrated. No offence to you from the South, but you cannot transport audiences to Bramasole with a Georgia accent and little verbal cadence. I couldn't last a chapter. I'll either read them or check the narrators.

Posted by
13 posts

I love to stay in one place but my husband likes to see different things, so we compromise. But I'm really just writing to say that any time spent in Orvieto, Lucca, and the Cinque Terre can be absolutely great. We also spent a week in Bologna and its central location makes it good for short day trips elsewhere.