Wednesday, June 16, 2010
A Free Trip to Italy
I bet that I am one of the few people left who hadn’t read the book or seen the movie: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It was only because of a comment at a recent book luncheon that I learned that Mayes has a local connection to the San Francisco Bay Area. So after a spate of books about wars, death, disappointment and overall sadness, I needed a “vacation”. With this book in hand I was transported to Italy without the expense or hassle of a 10-hour flight.
For the most part the book is about Mayes’ renovation of an abandoned villa in Tuscany. Her descriptions of nature, the weather and the local food are magical. Who knew this was also a cookbook? There are two sections of mouth-watering recipes: one for summer foods and one for winter. I especially enjoyed the sections of her own vacation travels around Tuscany searching for Etruscan tombs and Roman roads. Has anyone been to the hot waterfall at Saturnina? That alone sounds worth the trip. The terra cotta horses (in Italy now, not China) from the 4th or 3rd century B.C. are another reminder of just how really young our own country is by comparison and how insignificant may be the crises of the moment even as we are disappearing.
I was a little put off by her ruminations comparing the religion of Italy with the “Repent” and “Jesus Saves” culture of her own Southern (USA) upbringing. It was too much for me that this lapsed Methodist/lapsed Episcopalian would install a ceramic Mary with a small cup for holy water (for which she substituted the spring water from her property.) But if you wonder why we call them the “dog days of summer” or why a cappuccino drink is so named, it’s all in here.
Now I feel rested and refreshed – just as I would from a real vacation.