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5.0 out of 5 stars Frances Mayes 'gets' Italy...
Enjoyably written by someone who knows and appreciates Italy, especially Tuscany.
Even her philosophical diversions are fun.
Definitely worth reading!
Published 7 months ago by Peter Overing

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ANY OF US ITALIANS LEFT IN TUSCANY?
Snobbish book. Yet I have to say at times Frances Mayes displays a touching vulnerability. I'm Italian-American, and I wonder if others who are Italian or of Italian descent feel as sad as I do that so much of the rich beautiful terrain of Italy is being more and more dominated by rich expatriates, the kind who hobnob with Ms. Mayes and from whom she learns, and in...
Published on Nov. 30 1999


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, April 25 2001
By 
Dd (Napoli, Italia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Quick and simple...bad. I have lived in Italy for the past 3 years. As an American, I am embarrassed as Ms. Mayes personifies the term "Ugly American". A pleasant writing style is no excuse for bad manners. I think that Ms. Mayes should know how to embrace the customs and ways of another country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An imaginary Italy., March 15 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
This is a very frustrating book, especially for anyone who is involved with Italians or things Italian. The book is generally well and lyrically written. The real problem with both "Bella Tuscany" and "Under the Tuscan Sun" is that they are not actually about Italy. Rather, they are set in an imaginary Italy whose only citizens are stereotypes of the most astonishing obviousness. One is tempted to compare Mayes's project with older elitist visions of Italy--the tradition of James, Hawthorne, and Waugh. Here too the protagonists travel from the complexity and corruption of the metropolis to a bucolic paradise where the simple inhabitants have little more to do than laze around in the sun eating pasta and drinking wine (although at least in these earlier narratives Italy became a theatre in which the political and social dramas of the "first world" were played out). The concerns of Italians--inhabitants of a modern, richly complex and changing society--are completely elided by the narrative. Indeed Mayes doesn't seem to speak enough Italian--after several years there (!!)--to communicate with them substantially. This book is good for those who are looking for a fantasy Italy with which to exorcise the demons of modernity, but is utterly useless for those who love or who wish to understand the real country and its people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh, Jan. 9 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
This is a pretentious, boring, self-absorbed book. I couldn't finish it. The writer comes across as someone I would never want to meet or spend time with, although I'm willing to believe that this was just the effect her writing had on me. Her attitude toward Italy and the Italians I found patronizing and uneducated. And if I buy a book about Tuscany, I'm not looking to read about the author's family and childhood, etc. Highly UNrecommended. Read MFK Fisher for good food writing, and anyone else in the world besides Mayes for good travel writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what you'd expect...., Nov. 9 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
I read and thoroughly enjoyed "Under the Tuscan Sun". But, this book left me dry. She apparently has been changed by the success of her earlier work. She seemed self-absorbed and elitist. I actually thought those were the attitudes she went to Italy to get away from in the US. Not a solid follow up to a solid first book. I also heard she "dumped" Ed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy This Book !!!, Aug. 9 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
This is a pretentious, boring and poorly written book that has very little to do with Tuscany. The author is a wealthy American who vacations in Italy 3 months out of the year with her lover, Ed, and spends the majority of her social time with British and American expatriots. The Italians she knows are primarily tradesmen. They are drawn as caricatures with little or no depth. She declines a dinner invitation with an Italian family because after 7 years her Italian is evidently not good enough to converse. If this book is about anything it's about a subject near and dear to the author's heart: herself. Mayes is riddled with fears and she shares all of them with us. She's afraid of the mafia. When she goes to Sicily she thinks they're everywhere. They run into a funeral and it must be a mafia funeral. Their Sicilian waiter reminds her of a terrorist. It makes you wonder if she didn't check under the bed each night to make sure the mafia hadn't snuck in. She's afraid of robed priests because they remind her of the Ku Klux Klan! (I'm not making this stuff up) She's afraid of birds and bats. She's filled with insecurity. At the end of each trip she feels sad because her friends and relatives are going on with their lives without knowing where she is. No ego problem here! The author is ambivalent about religion in general and Chritianity in particular. She makes numerous insensitive comments regarding Catholicism, the primary religion in Italy. The author is downright rude and thoughtless. She paints an insulting picture of the "assault of houseguests" she faces each year. And with all of this is the same conspicuous consumption described in her previous book. She and Ed contantly eat and drink and buy their way through Italy. This time around they continue their spending by buying a new home in California. Even the recipes stink. Why this book is called "Bella Tuscany" is a mystery. Read the books of Tim Parks for a real description of life in Italy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Noiossimo, July 4 2000
By 
Stephanie Longo "Incoronatella" (Scranton, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
I really enjoyed "Under the Tuscan Sun", so I decided to read "Bella Tuscany". I found "Bella Tuscany" to be a little boring and not at all what I'd expected. I had expected to see Mayes grow more accustomed to living in Italy and there fore be more "Italian". She still seemed like an American living in Italy with the "Oh my I'm in a foreign country" syndrome most tourists encounter. I had expected Mayes to have grown a lot more as a writer also, I found this book to be dry. It was like she was rambling on and on and on. I was to the point where I didn't even want to finish the book just so I could be put out of my misery. The book should have ended at the end of "Anselmo's Idea of Tomatoes", she had the perfect book-ender as the chaper closer, instead she rambled on and on for 30 more pages. It was nice to see what happened to some of the characters and things like that. But, she is writing "In Tuscany", she could have saved some of the rambling for that. I'm not sure if I will even bother with "In Tuscany" because I found this to be so boring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Let's Go Shopping, May 5 2000
By 
Deborah E. Colter (Marietta, South Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
I loved Under The Tuscan Sun which focused on Tuscany, its people, places and food. This book is about Sicily, where the author was either cold, rained on, put in crummy rooms or deeply frightened by the mafia, which she seems to believe are everywhere, and Venice, where we learn about her bird phobia, and San Francisco, where she buys another house to renovate and gives the ultimate bird to her former husband by (if you believe it) not recognizing him at her daughter's wedding. It is also about Ed, who I refuse to believe exists. But most of all it's about shopping. Fran buys everything she sees, smells, or heard rumors of, and will doubtless be named the patron saint of shopkeepers in Tuscany and Umbria. This is a boring and self-absorbed effort that her editor should have stopped cold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Opportunistic Diletante, April 16 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy (Paperback)
Many superb books have been written about buying and restoring old homes and discovering new and engaging cultures. Frances Mayes has vulgarized the genre. That may be her only claim to the fame she so clearly covets in the world of letters. I truly hope she spends the rest of her days in the California she claims she hates so much. This for making me suffer through her "writing". Bella Italia deserves so much more...so do we. Try " A Tuscan Childhood". It's a wonderful read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does she really like Italy?, April 6 2000
By A Customer
Let's see, her first choice to live was Greece, and, throughout both books, although she loves her Tuscan home, her land [Whose land is this anyway, she snobbily thinks, when native Italians try to help her prune the garden] she admits she's "squeamish" about folk customs, food, the people in general. Mayes claims to be "at home" in Italy, that she is now Italianized -- and then gives us a recipe where she adds at the end of it, "Serves two." Serves -- TWO?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather have a root canal than read another Mayes book!, Dec 7 1999
By 
Jim (New Mexico USA) - See all my reviews
Ms Mayes doesn't have a clue about what it's like to be Italian. I found her books to be an innacurate description of the life and culture of my ancestry. Her style of writing is trite and patronizing. I found it totally offensive. I could not finish the book.
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Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy
Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes (Paperback - April 4 2000)
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