Book Review: Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

bella Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes


TBR pile

Bantam Books 2000 (originally published 1999)

 Synopsis- 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, Mayes 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 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 Mayes’s deepening connection to the land and her flourishing friendships in a newfound haven of idyllic living.

 Review- Bella Tuscany is the sequel to Mayes’ renowned Under the Tuscan Sun, a memoir later adapted to the big screen. I really love travel memoirs, especially those set in Italy with a focus on setting up a new life and discovering a foreign culture, language and lifestyle.

In Bella Tuscany, Frances returns to her Tuscan holiday home with her partner Ed to experience their first Tuscan spring season. There’s a shift from the housing renovations that dominated Under the Tuscan Sun with the couple turning their focus toward the garden and bringing life to their property. There’s more delicious food and recipes to be shared and I felt reassured that Frances continued to struggle with the Italian language despite spending a quarter of each year in Tuscany.

I especially enjoyed reading about the ways in which Frances and Ed tried to incorporate their Italian holiday lifestyle into their everyday working life in San Francisco. This is something that’s always at the top of my list when I return from a holiday… to live a more relaxed life that’s less influenced by technology… but of course after a couple of weeks I’m returning home from work too tired to take my dog for a walk, sit in front of the television while eating dinner and wondering why I have no free time?! Perhaps I’ll have better success when I return from my trip this time…

Bella Tuscany didn’t blow me away, it didn’t have the same awe and newness of setting up home in a foreign land as Under the Tuscan Sun, but I did find it a pleasant, quick read that continued the couples’ Tuscan adventure and did cause me to relapse into fantasising about buying a home to renovate somewhere far away like Tuscany. Sigh. We can only dream huh?

Overall Rating


“I liked this”

Bella Tuscany can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers


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