As someone who is moving to Tuscany soon, and as a fan of A Year in Provence
, I thought I'd enjoy this book. The truth is that it's OK, but nothing special. There are some great depictions of the Italian countryside, Italian people (especially workers), and lots of great descriptions of Italian food (I got very hungry reading this book). And that's about it. The rest is an unfocused mix of the author's thoughts, travels, and recipes, and it can be a chore to get through. This book would be a delight if you dropped the irrelevant material and cut it down to half its length, but as it is, it's hard to recommend it.
A few good quotes from the book:
A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice.
On my way out, I see a man in a sweater, despite the heat. The trunk of his minuscule Fiat is piled with black grapes that have warmed all morning in the sun. I'm stopped by the whiny, musty, violet scents. He offers me one. The hot sweetness breaks open my mouth. I have never tasted anything so essential in my life as this grape on this morning. They even smell purple. The flavor, older than the Etruscans and deeply fresh and pleasing, just leaves me stunned. Such richness, the big globes, the heap of dusty grapes cascading out of two baskets. I asked for un grappolo
, a bunch, wanting the taste to stay with me all morning.
How Italian will we ever be? Not very, I'm afraid. Too pale. To unable to gesture as a natural accompaniment to talking. I saw a man step outside the confining telephone booth so he could waive his hands while talking.